|William Burrow’s headstone at the |
National Cemetery in Fayetteville.
What we know about our William Burrow is that he was born in Missouri in 1833, married Frances Stacy in 1853 (she died in 1863, around the time William was killed in combat), and was the father of Jane and Martha Burrow. His father was James Burrow, and his mother was Martha McGee, daughter of the Cumberland Presbyterian minister and revival leader William McGee. (Martha McGee and her granddaughter Martha Burrow were presumably namesakes of William McGee's mother, the Revolutionary spy Martha Bell.) James and Martha McGee Burrow came to Missouri from Tennessee in the early 1830s.
A few newly discovered nuggets lay out the case pretty well. Most important is a passage from a 1917 book called The Ozark Region, Its History and Its People, which contains a lot of biographies of local folks. An item about a man named Harry Moore, who would be Walter Vermillion's first cousin, begins like this:
The father of Harry Moore is Walter Moore, an old citizen of Lawrence county, who had lived to the time of his death, September 10, 1916, upon a farm north of Aurora for more than forty years. Walter Moore was born in Edwards county, Illinois, on the 9th day of January, 1846, and was left without either parent before he was one year of age. His grandparents took him to Barry county, Missouri, early in the year 1847, and here he grew to manhood, working upon the farm and thus acquiring a knowledge of that business which made him a farmer for life. Mr. Moore married Miss Jane Burrow of Lawrence county, a daughter of William Burrow. She was born in Lawrence county on the 31st of December, 1858 [sic—other sources say 1855].
William Burrow was a farmer who enlisted in the Union army at the outbreak of the Civil war, and was killed at the battle of Fayetteville, Arkansas. He is one of the honored dead who sleep in the National cemetery at Fayetteville. Shortly before Mr. Burrow's death his wife had passed away, and his daughter was thus left, as her future husband had been, an orphan. Like him too, she was taken to the home of her grandfather. This was James Burrow, a native of Bedford county, Tennessee, who came to Missouri about 1832 and bought a tract of land, on which is located the celebrated Orange Spring. He was born in 1799, and passed away in 1880, at the advanced age of eighty-one years.
We have well established that Jane Burrow was the sister of our own ancestor Martha Burrow (who married Wash Vermillion and was Blanche's grandmother). Jane Moore would later be one of the people who regularly wrote to Martha's son Ira in prison. Census records show that both Jane and Martha lived with their grandfather James Burrow after their parents' death. This biographical item, likely reported by Harry Moore himself or a family member, connects William Burrow at Fayetteville to our family.
I had been a bit confused/skeptical because William is also identified in a Goodspeed history of Lawrence County as having been a member of the Lawrence County Home Guard during the war. But I'm guessing he left that outfit to join up with the real army in Arkansas. Civil War records show that the William M. Burrow who fell at Fayetteville was a sergeant in Company E, 1st Regiment, First Arkansas Union Cavalry.
A record of a pension application from December 8, 1873, identifies William Burrow as "1Sgt E, 1 Ark Cav." The application does not name the minor dependent, but lists her guardian as Walter Moore. Walter married Jane Burrow in 1872, but she did not turn 18 until December 31, 1873. Perhaps Walter served as legal guardian of his wife (and maybe Martha as well) for the purposes of the pension. At any rate, this again connects our known family to the fallen soldier.
The only other reference I've found to William Burrow's service and death comes from an article about the Battle of Fayetteville originally published in North and South magazine and reprinted here. Relying on a battle report in federal records written by commanding officer Albert Bishop, the author writes:
About six o’clock the Confederates made their initial move toward Fayetteville, charging on horseback out of the ravine and up toward Federal Headquarters and the nearby Baxter house. This attack by Carroll’s Cavalry and Dorsey’s Missouri squadron drove the defenders back into the rifle pits and houses, where they rallied and from where they poured in a considerable fire from their long-range Whitney rifles. In the streets Cabell’s men met with effectual resistance from the windows, doorways and corners of the houses. One of the defenders, First Sergeant William M. Burrow of Company E, First Arkansas Union Cavalry, fell badly wounded. “As his comrades were bearing him from the field, he begged them to ‘lay him down and go to fighting,’” wrote Lieutenant Colonel Bishop. Burrow died from his wound two weeks later.
Like a lot of the family history I write about here, I never heard any of this growing up. William's daughter Martha, Blanche's grandmother, died too young to pass family stories on to her own children, much less her grandchildren. And Blanche's own father died when she was still an infant, so I think a lot of family lore just got lost along the way.
The Civil War was complicated in the hills of Arkansas and Missouri, and I don't know what William Burrow was fighting for when he gave his life. But I know that Blanche, a patriotic woman, would have been proud of her great-grandfather if she had known the story.