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Burleigh Family

She hath done what she could - inscription on tombstone of Emily Spry Burleigh

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Alternate Spellings - Burley, Berley, Burligh (all the Mercer County records are as Burleigh)

Links - Jay, Sanders, Isaac Willits, Atwater, Anderson

Contacts - Terri Nielsen has kindly sent us her father's research on the Burleigh family. Jan Ramos has sent information on Zella Willits Gamble and her (adopted) descendants. George Fulton is descended from James and Emily Spry Burleigh's daughter Sarah Frances Burleigh Fulton and has sent information on that family. Marna Wilson has a project up on the Bridgford family (William H. Bridgford married Charlotte Burleigh)

Photos - Irene Burleigh Willits Anderson & George Anderson/Zella Willits Gamble & Edwin Gamble {Click }; Edwin & Zella Willits Gamble and adopted daughter Dorothy Irene in 1901{Click}; Church dedicated to the memory of Zella Willits Gamble in Harvey, Illinois {Click} (Courtesy of Jan Ramos). The Burleigh Sisters: Amanda Burleigh Saunders; Irene Burleigh Willits Anderson; Mary Ann Burleigh Smythe; Sarah Frances Burleigh Fulton; Charlotte Burleigh Bridgford{Click - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view}(courtesy George Fulton)

James and Emily Spry Burleigh

We are lacking in information on the antecedents of this family, not having researched them prior to Mercer County. The family came to Mercer from Muskingum County, Ohio. The Burleigh family was well established in America by 1790; there are 59 heads of household in the 1790 census with some variation of the Burleigh surname. Six families are found in Pennsylvania and 36 families in New Hampshire in 1790. James and Emily Spry Burleigh came to Mercer County about 1835, so were among the first settlers. Emily's obituary at the end of the page says the families came in 1839 so James may have come ahead and the families followed, as was often the case. Emily was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in 1806, and her family removed to Muskingum County, Ohio, where Emily married James Burleigh 2/24/1824. Emily's obituary is posted at the bottom of the page, courtesy Terri Nielsen.

In the first election, held in Mercer County on August 1, 1836, James Burleigh was elected a county commissioner. On September 21, 1839, he purchased 67 acres in the SE quarter of Section 30, Township 14 North, Range 5 West (New Boston Township). Jan Ramos tells us there is a US land patent dated 10 November 1841 on the southeast quarter of Section 30, in the name of both James Burleigh and George Jay, Jr (probably a relative). This was just north of the future town of New Boston (see 1875 plat map). The land acquisition is listed in public land records as: James Burleigh, SEFraction Sec 30 14N 5W, 66.96 acres purchased 9/21/1839. This may be the source of the obituary information that they came in 1839. It is not listed under Jay.

In the 1840 census James Burleigh is listed in New Boston town, engaged in commerce. The family consisted of James, age 30-40, wife age 30-40, 1 male 15-20, 1 male under 5, 1 female 5-10, and 2 females under 5. The son age 15-20 was John Burleigh who died in December 1846 in Mercer County. The male under 5 was Benjamin, the female 5-10 was Amanda, and the two females under 5 were Charlotte and one unknown. Two more daughters, Elizabeth (born 1827) and Mary Ann (born about 1828), are not listed but may have been living with, or visiting with, relatives at the time of the census.

Emily's obituary says they had eight children, six daughters and two sons. It also says that the Burleighs came to Mercer County with the husband's relatives, the Jays. We do not find cemetery records for James and Emily in Mercer County from the DAR walkdown in the 1960's, but Terri Nielsen's father found Emily's grave many years ago in New Boston Cemetery: Emily Burleigh, died Nov. 20, 1887, aged 81 years Mother "She hath done what she could." James Burleigh died in February 1844. In that time period, he may have been buried in the Davis Cemetery but no stone remained in the 1960's.

The Methodist Episcopal Church Society was organized in New Boston in July 1838 at the residence of Emily Burleigh (also inconsistent with the obituary arrival date, but the information is from the 1882 Mercer County History and could be inaccurate, or the obituary could be inaccurate). There are three Burleigh marriages in the 1840's including James's widow Emily Spry Burleigh and two daughters Elizabeth Jane and Mary Ann.

Emily Spry Burleigh Stannard

Emily Spry Burleigh married widower Roswell Stannard on 11/3/1849 in Mercer County. Roswell Stannard had a previous wife, Mehitabel, as they are found as members of the Edwards River Baptist Church when it was constituted on June 29, 1839. They are in Township 14 North Range 5 West in 1840: Roswell Stannard, age 50-60 and one female age 40-50. We find no children for Roswell and Emily Burleigh Stannard, and because of their ages, it is likely that Emily and Roswell had no children together.

Emily Burleigh Stannard is found with Burleigh children in the town of New Boston in the 1850 census with her new husband: Roswell Stannard, age 50, laborer, born Massachusetts; Emily Stannard, age 43, born Pennsylvania; Amanda Burleigh, 18, born Ohio; Charlotte Burleigh, age 15, Benjamin Burleigh, age 12; Sarah F. Burleigh, age 8, and Irene Burleigh, age 6, all born Illinois. We find no further record of Roswell Stannard.

The marriage was apparently short lived as Emily applied for a pension in 1864 as Emily Burleigh and stated she had no marriage other than to James Burleigh. The 1914 Past and Present of Mercer County history tells us that Emily Burleigh was receiving an $8 pension in New Boston Township in 1884.

More on the Children of James and Emily Burleigh

Elizabeth Burleigh Gibson and James Ham Gibson

Daughter Elizabeth Burleigh married James Ham Gibson 8/20/1844, in Mercer County. Elizabeth Jane Burleigh Gibson died January 12, 1852, age 24 yrs, 6mo, 10 ds. She is buried in New Boston Cemetery along with a daughter Luticia and a son George Oliver who died as infants.

James H. Gibson married second, Mary Ann Lemon Sanders, widow of Charles Sanders, on 5/9/1852 . We find James H. Gibson and family in Millersburg Township in 1860. The family consists of James H., age 39, laborer, born Kentucky; Mary, age 32, born Pennsylvania; Mary E., age 13; Amanda, age 8; Ezra, age 7; Erbin, age 4; and James, age 1, all born Illinois. With them is Mary E. Sanders, age 10, daughter of Charles and Mary Lemon Sanders and stepdaughter of James Gibson. Mary E. Gibson, age 13, was daughter of James and Elizabeth Burleigh Gibson. She married Abram O. Clark 8/22/1864 in Mercer County. Mary E. Sanders was born May 9, 1850 and married Robert Teal 9/14/1879. Mary Ann Lemon Sanders Gibson died 1/5/1881 and is buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Millersburg. We have not followed this family further as they are outside our area of study

Mary Ann Burleigh Smith

Daughter Mary Ann Burleigh married John Smith on 6/16/1847 in Mercer County. Jan Ramos sent us the 1850 census record for John Smith: Twp 13N, Range 4W, Mercer County, 31 Aug 1850, John Smith, 28, born Pa, farmer; Mary Ann, 22, born Ohio; William R., 1, born Ohio. They are not found in Mercer County in 1860 or 1870. John Smith died in Sherrard in Mercer County 3/14/1900 (if it is the right John Smith!). Also note on the Burleigh sisters photograph that the spelling "Smyth" was used.

Amanda Burleigh Sanders

Daughter Amanda Burleigh married Ira Sanders 8/18/1853 in Mercer County; they are not found in Mercer County in . Note spelling as Saunders on her photograph.

Charlotte Burleigh Bridgford

The only Burleigh name found in the 1860 census in Mercer County is daughter, Irene Burleigh, age 16, working as a domestic in the household of William Bridgford in Millersburg (more on Irene below).

William Bridgford married Irene's sister, Charlotte Burleigh, on 8/30/1855 in Henderson County [next door to Mercer County]. They are living in Millersburg Township in 1860: William Bridgford, 38, farmer, born Ohio, Charlotte, 25, born Il, and son Frank, 4, born Il. William Bridgford enlisted in Company G of the 102nd Illinois Infantry and was elected second lieutenant. He eventually progressed to Captain of the Company. For those interested in following this family, William applied for a Civil War Pension on April 26, 1880, Application #364709, Certificate #314439.

Son Frank and another son Alvin are found in Washington County, Iowa, in 1880 working in a hotel as a barber and clerk, respectively. Frank Bridgford is found in a Salt Lake City Utah Directory in 1890 as a barber and manager of the Salt Lake Employment Company on West Temple Street.

William and Charlotte (Lottie) are found in Henderson County, Illinois, in 1880 with another son Oliver, named after other Bridgford relatives in Mercer County.

William died before November 12, 1898 when Charlotte filed an application for a widow's pension in Missouri: Application #686030, Certificate #474916.

Marna Wilson has a Web Site (see Contacts above) on the Bridgford family. William H. Bridgford was son of Thomas and Elizabeth Bridgford and had Bridgford brothers, uncles, etc. who came to Mercer County. His mother Elizabeth and sister Eliza Bridgford are found in New Boston in 1870: #121 Elizabeth Bridgford, 65, born Ky; Eliza Bridgford, 27, born Ohio. William and Charlotte are not in Mercer in 1870 but were probably in Henderson County.

Benjamin Burleigh

Son Benjamin Burleigh enlisted in a Rock Island County Company, Company I, 45th Regiment, on December 24, 1861. He enlisted from Keithsburg in Mercer County. As many soldiers did, Benjamin died of disease at Memphis, Tennessee, on January 24, 1863. His name is included on the Soldiers’ Monument at Aledo. His mother applied for and received a pension. Jan Ramos has found a Benjamin Spry in census records who well may be the parent of Emily Spry Burleigh and young Benjamin Burleigh may have been named for him. In that time period it was usual to select names for children honoring grandparents or other relatives (or famous people). Benjamin Spry is found in the 1810 US Census Index in Erie County, Pa; in 1820 in Springfield Township, Erie County; and in 1850 in Perry Township, Muskingum County, Ohio, so it fits well with Emily's history.

Sarah Francis Burleigh Fulton

We have heard from George Fulton, a direct descendant of daughter Sarah Francis Burleigh. He tells us that she married Thompson Fulton. George has Thompson Fulton's family bible where he recorded the births, marriages, and deaths of their children. So far we have not located a record of the marriage of Sarah and Thompson but it may have been in Iowa as their oldest child was born in Iowa.

Sarah Francis Burleigh Fulton was born 6/14/1841 in Mercer County, and Thomas Fulton was born 9/23/1830 in Derry Pennsylvania. They are not found in Mercer County in 1860 but are found in Keithsburg in the 1870 census: Thompson Fulton, 40, farm laborer, born Pa; Sarah, 35, born Il; Edward, 10, born Il; Harvey, 9, born Il; Clinton, 6, born Il. George Fulton tells us that Edward was born in Spring Run, Iowa, and this would be consistent with the family not being in Mercer County in 1860. The Fultons are still in Keithsburg in 1880: Thompson, 49, born Pa, parents born Pa; Sara, 39, born Il, parents born Ohio; Harvey, 18, Il, Clinton, 15, Il, Tessa, 4, born Il. We were unable to locate son James Edward in the 1880 census.

Both Sarah and Thompson Fulton died in the early 1900's in Lincoln, Nebraska. Son James Edward Fulton married Clio Atwater, daughter of Sylvanus Atwater on 3/6/1895 in Mercer County.

Irene Burleigh Willits Anderson

Daughter Irene I. Burleigh married Walter D. Willits, son of William and Chariah Drury Willits, on 11/5/1863 in Mercer County; they are not found in Mercer County in 1870. On 4/14/1867 Walter D. Willits advertised his farm for sale in Township 14N Range 4W (Millersburg), 4 miles Southeast of Aledo.

The family apparently went to Kansas as the 1880 census gives their second daughter's birthplace as Kansas. When time permits we will follow up on this. Walter and Irene Burleigh Willits had two daughters, Ada B., born about 1865, and Zella V., born about 1874 in Kansas.

Walter Willits died 1/12/1875 and is buried in the Davis Cemetery in Mercer County. Irene Burleigh Willits is found in the 1880 census in Mercer County; her occupation is teacher. With her are daughters Ada and Zella. Ada died in 1882 and is buried in the Davis Cemetery.

Irene Burleigh Willits married George V. Anderson, son of Anders P. and Augusta Anderson, on 9 May 1884. They lived in Harvey, Illinois (Cook County) later in life. They both died in Harvey in 1936.

Daughter Zella Willits married Edwin Gamble. They had an adopted daughter Dorothy Irene Gamble born in 1898 and adopted in 1901 (see photo link above). Zella died in 1915 and a Methodist Church in Harvey was dedicated in her honor (see photo link above). Edwin Smith Gamble took care of Irene and George until his death in 1935 (see obit on Cook County IlGenWeb Page). Jan Ramos has more on this family.

Obituary of Emily Spry Burleigh

"Keithsburg Times, Nov. 30, 1887 Obituary for Mrs. Emily Spry Burleigh, died in New Boston, Nov. 20. Emily Spry Burleigh, one of the oldest citizens of Mercer County. Mrs. Burleigh was born in Pennsylvania in 1806. She removed to Muskingum County, Ohio when quite a child. She was married to James Burleigh in Jan. 1824 and came with her own and her husbands family the Jays, to Illinois in 1839 landing at New Boston on the 5th of May. She was the mother of eight children, six daughters and two sons, of whom, five daughters survive her. Two live in Nebraska and two in Kansas and on still in New Boston. Her husband died in Feb. 1844, her oldest son in Dec. 1846 and her second son in Feb. 1863 in Memphis, Tenn., of disease contracted in the army. Mrs. Burleigh had been a member of the Methodist Church 62 years and always an active devoted member. It is believed that the first service held by that church in the County was held at her house. As she wished she might do, she spent her 81st birthday in heaven and friends left behind laid away the mortal frame no longer needed for the spirits home. She was the youngest and last one left of a family of 12 children."

9/18/2007 A new page has been added for the Jay family and the Jay information from this page removed.