Monday, August 12, 2013

Condemned to a life eternal?

Is it simply because churches recorded and preserved documents, that clergymen stand out in my tree? Without having compared my family history to yours, I feel as if I have been preceded by an inordinate number of 'men of the cloth.' Perhaps reading has long appealed to my ancestors, particularly when compared to toiling in the fields. Peer-reviewed research by Buttery and Roberston indicates spirituality may emerge from genetic code. My sister is deeply religious. We descend paternally from Rev. William Hardesty (1776-1846) who was with Methodism as it institutionalized. At least a dozen pastors inform our maternal line. The martyr John Rogers (1500-1555) is among them: Anglican prebendary at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, he helped translate and edit the first English Bible. Cardinal Reginald Pole ordered Rogers burned at the stake after trial for such heresy. 

This blog sprang from research on adventurers pioneering into Kentucky as the nation broke into revolution. These headstrong ancestors were not a cross-section of society. Remarkable tales of self-reliance and personal initiative indicate a breed of individualists. Initial settlers were isolated over extended periods of time from tidewater institutions which were attending to other matters. I do not take for granted that these men pulled a mantle of republican self-government over their efforts, nor how quickly they placed religious activity at the center of community. For all I know, religiosity tamed 
wilderness when women began arriving in larger numbers.

Virginian Rev. Andrew Tribble (1741-1822) had run afoul of the law when colonial authorities in Orange County indicted him for preaching Baptist doctrine. Tribble carried himself, his strict beliefs, and his family to the frontier. My 4x gr-grandfather 'Old Ironsides' will get his own Hard Honesty 
post at some point.
[2018 Update: A. Tribble, T. Jefferson: Men’s Opinions and Beliefs Depend Not on Their Own Will is out for peer review.]

This entry follows a post on Thomas Burris (c1722-1789). A peeved Col. George Washington suspected martial discipline, appropriately applied, might condemn Burris "to a life eternal!" In hell, I assume. I here depict Burris' children's migration into Kentucky. By marrying his daughter, Sarah Ann Burris (1753-1830), Preacher Tribble became adjunct to his father-in-law's legacy in afterlife. 

The Burris brood carried civilizing effects of religious practice westward, into primitive conditions.

Daughters of the American Revolution [citing pages 757 & 8 in Abercrombie and Slatten’s Virginia Revolutionary Public Claims, Vol. III] credit Thomas Burroughs, husband of Frances Tandy (1730-1816), with providing unspecified ‘material aid’ to patriots engaged in Revolution. Many assert Burris, 
who'd lost an arm during colonial interests' French and Indian War, continued combat during Revolutionary War. I am willing to share in the contention that his son, Thomas Burris Jr. (c1757-1836) is the more likely candidate. But I honestly don’t know.

A veterans' pension record indicates a Thomas Burris mustered in as a Private on 23 February 1776. All service, which seems to have concluded November 1779, was within the Third Virginia Regiment of Foot. The subject moved back and forth between at least four companies. He twice served - as Corporal - in Captain John Francis Mercer's company. The transient nature of this Burris' service stands out among records I review. Perhaps this is the rambunctious Tom Burris, Sr. Or a combination of father-and-son war records, fused together.
[See note on Burris Revolutionary Service.]

Thomas Burris, Sr. is forged – in folklore if nowhere else – from a warrior tradition. His legacy; no doubt cultivated by wife Frances, a woman of some refinement; is greater than that, however.

The Thomas Burris, Sr. estate contained a lot of land. 

John Francis Mercer portrait by Robert Field.
John Francis Mercer (1759-1821)
During the French and Indian War, Burris, Sr. had served under Captain George Mercer, elder brother of the above John Francis Mercer. Their father John had been one of the first to join George Fairfax [cited in correspondence here], George Washington's half-brothers and other wealthy Virginia planters, in forming the Ohio Company of Virginia. By 1763 George Mercer acted as London agent for this group of wealthy land speculators. No doubt distinctly separated by class, Burrises and Mercers were in close and certainly intimate proximity over time.

Burris, Sr.'s 1789 estate included thousands of acres of land in a part of extreme western Virginia known as Kentucky. He accrued it either by reward for service or through speculation. To best capitalize on such ventures, Ohio Company contracts required inducing a specific number of settlers to create agrarian economy on granted land. Burris was not a high-level investor organized to do such, but he likely understood land values appreciate as settlement inspires demand for adjacent parcels. Perhaps his heirs simply wanted new opportunity.

Thomas Burris, Sr. married Frances Tandy in 1750. They’d had four daughters by the time Burris lost his arm. Of the four, my 4x-great grandmother Sarah Ann married Pastor Tribble in 1768. Absent an unknown first wife, it is almost assured that ‘Sallie’ bore her first child a month past her 16th birthday. Ten years after the Burris/Tribble marriage, Sarah Ann's sister Frances Tandy Burris (1762-1828) married William Bush (1746-1815). Those who don’t know the exploits of Daniel Boone companion 'Billy' Bush miss out on a colorful character. In his father Phillip's will, dated 10 May 1771, William is said to have been "absent for some time past and not heard of.”
[See note on Phillip Bush will.]

Bush had been making history. In 1770 he labored tenaciously to help cut Boone's Trace into Kentucky. His work opened Transylvania Company lands to settlement and speculation.

Without citation, a 'Tribute to Captain Billy' reports, "When his father died in 1772, Bush returned to Virginia with every intention of settling down and becoming a respectable citizen. He married Frances Tandy Burrus.”Age 16 in 1778, bride 'Franky' was half the groom’s age.

On 18 March 1780, Thomas Burris Sr. executed a pair of land warrants, apparently for two, thousand-acre parcels. On the same date, Andrew Tribble obtained a warrant for 500 acres of Kentucky land. 
[Survey below.]

William Bush had been busy. His parents initially Episcopalian, Bush had fully embraced Baptist doctrine well before luring family members west to land he’d explored north of the Kentucky River. Across from Fort Boonesborough. Several accounts declare Bush willing to give away parcels from his claim, to entice settlement. Possession of that land was still being contested by Native warriors when, in the summer of 1780, the adventurer Bush led five brothers and a sister out from Orange County, Virginia. Included in this contingent were "some of the best families of Virginia," according to Baptist hagiography. "There were five married daughters and three sons of Thomas Burris, a rich planter of Virginia, the sons and the husbands of four of the daughters all being brothers-in-law of Captain Billy Bush.”
[See History of the Churches of Boone's Creek Baptist Association of Kentucky, by S. J. Conkwright, 1923; pg. 20.]

The Bush/Burris migration is a story of resilience. Billy Bush forged ahead of the caravan, to scout conditions around Boonesborough. In time, forty-four pioneers in his wake ran out of road. No longer suitable for wilderness terrain, they likely bartered their wagons away at Fort Chiswell, about nine miles east of present Wytheville, Virginia.

Image of 'Creek Indians in Earlier Days.'
Bush was waiting when, in December 1780, the group arrived at Black’s Fort on the Holston River in the Wolf Hills of western Virginia. Near present-day Abingdon. Though the quote lacks his phrasing, Bush is to have conveyed that "... troubles with the Indians at that time rendered it impolitic and unwise to proceed farther."
[See A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, by E. Polk Johnson, 1912; pg. 1700.]

Re-created Holston-era blockhouse
Indigenous Cherokee and Muscogee (also seen as Creek Confederacy) had united with Tories to serve under coordinated command. They had attacked the isolated outpost in July four years prior. After causing many casualties, warriors had driven all militia out from garrisons west of the fortification.The noncombatant Bush/Burris band was vulnerable. Families wintered-over near the refuge of what was probably not much more than a blockhouse behind a stockade.
"... within one month after their arrival at Holston, a part of the colony organized themselves into a church and held regular services, with Elder Robert Elkin as their pastor. The name of this church at that time, if it had one, has not survived, but after the departure from Holston, it has been rightly named a Travelling Church, for led by her pastor she held regular church services and transacted church business." [See Conkwright; pp. 19-20.]
Behind this group migrated followers of Baptist Pastor Lewis Craig. As they had come over 'in a body' from Virginia, I contend this contingent rightly deserves appellation of 'Travelling Church.' "The moving train included church members, their children, negro slaves and other emigrants (who, for better protection, had attached themselves to an organized expedition), between five and six hundred souls." At least 200 were adult members of Upper Spottsylvania Church. "It was the largest body of Virginians that ever set out for Kentucky at one time. And not only the members but nearly everything else pertaining to Craig's Church was going. Its official books and records, its simple communion service, the treasured old Bible from the pulpit -- nearly everything in fact but the building itself ..."
[See The Travelling Church, by G. W. Ranck, 1891; pg. 13.]
"Attracted by glowing accounts which were given by returning explorers of the beautiful scenery, the unexcelled productiveness, and the abundance of wild game of the charming region beyond the mountains, and revolting against the ecclesiastical persecution and domination of the State Church authorities of Virginia, the larger number of the members of this church, having been, at their own request, constituted into an independent church, and taking along with them the pastor and the old church book, began their long and tedious journey to the "foreign land." Carrying their women, children, and baggage on horseback, they travelled [sic] through the wilderness for 600 miles. Famine, cold, fatigue, and sickness impeded their journey. The wild beast and treacherous Indian made perilous their march. Winter, with its ice, snow, and mud, tested their patience and tried their strength. Many times during their journey, when a halt was called, did they engage in religious services. Many times did the primeval forest of the Dark and Bloody Ground resound with the hymns of Zion; the vales which formerly had reverberated with the scream of the catamount or the war whoop of the infuriated savage, now for the first time echoed with the hallelujahs of the saints."
[See Kentucky Baptist History 1770-1922, by W. D. Dowlin, 1922; pp. 31-32.]
The Craig group arrived at Black's Fort to find the Bush party had been in temporary settlement for at least nine months. A chronicler describes the Bush Colony from a point of view held by fellow Virginia Baptists:
"For nearly a year they had experienced that "hope deferred which maketh the heart sick" -- nearly a year of such waiting as had to be endured at an exposed and isolated station whose gallant defenders often during the Revolution had barely enough provisions to keep them alive. And Craig's church waited also, and while it waited its pastor preached again and again, and there were baptisms, washing of feet and many prayers." [See Ranck, pg. 22.]
Ranck describes reconnaissance the Craig group had received at Fort Chiswell, about sixty miles behind them:
"The disquieting reports they had heard at Fort Chiswell [of fresh signs of Indians and outlawed Tories] were confirmed. Kentucky and the road leading to it was beset by savages and they must do like other emigrants who had arrived at the Wolf Hills before them -- camp as best they could and wait for a safer time to start again."
Following General Gates' defeat in the August 1780 Battle of Camden, the southern wing of the Continental Army had disintegrated in South Carolina. Partisan struggles broke out. "The tories upon the waters of the Holston were now as dangerous and hurtful as the Indians," declared John Haywood.
[See The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee from its earliest settlement up to the year 1796, by John Haywood, Arthur St. Clair Colyar, 1891; pg. 76.]

Though Craig's were 'Separatist' Baptists, and the Bush Colony 'Regular' Baptists, it appears Elder Lewis Craig ordained Brother Robert Elkin. On 26 September, 1781 the Elkin group from Orange County is to have constituted itself, drawing up a membership list. It is apparent that 25 of the 41 original members were women. Captain Bush was in residence, with his wife Franky and six other adults in his family. The list does not include any other Burris family members. It is possible that the Burris clan dropped out of Craig's group, to wait in safety. Perhaps the Burris clan were present, but chose not to constitute themselves in an Elkin congregation. (Elders Tribble and Elkin were to have a divisive falling out - over church doctrine - by the end of the decade.)

I'm always amazed when I read accounts where bands of men in short order felled trees and 'cabined in' for the winter, or in advance of an impending attack. Says Ranck, "Huts were erected and occupied, but the undaunted pioneers determined all the same to start again as soon as possible and such poor preparations as circumstances permitted were made for the winter travel to which they might be subjected. Bullets were moulded, ammunition gourds replenished, venison 'jerked,' pack-saddles repaired, extra deer-skin moccasins made, clothing given especial attention, and every effort was made to strengthen the sick and feeble for the hardships yet to come." Gambling the odds of survival greater as warriors and partisans were less likely to campaign in wintertime, Craig and his party set off in late October or early November.
[See Lewis Craig, the Pioneer Baptist Preacher, His Life, Labors, and Character, by Lewis Thompson, 1910; pg 24.]

The Bush Colony would remain in limbo, encamped on the Holston River, for another two years. Caution was on the wind. In the spring of 1782, Regular Baptist Preacher John Gerrard had been organizing congregations in what is now Hardin County, Kentucky for more than a year when he set out hunting. "He was never afterwards heard of and is supposed to have been murdered by the Indians."
[See A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume I, by John H. Spencer, 1886; pg. 17.] Elder John Taylor, in his History of the Ten Churches, wrote, "It was a gloomy thing at that time [1782] to move to Kentucky." Raising crops on the banks of the Holston seemed a wise choice for the Bush Colony.

Spencer lamented conditions at the intended destination:
"The year just closed [1782] had been fraught with many dangers, trials and sorrows. One preacher, out of nine, had fallen a victim to savage barbarity, and many other settlers of the country had perished in the same manner. The imigrants [sic] had been compelled to remain in forts most of the summer, so that they had raised but little grain, and now set in the winter, always dreary enough to the poor, but doubly gloomy when the snow covers the fresh graves of murdered husbands and fathers. Many poor widows and orphans, hundreds of miles from all their old friends and surrounded by an almost boundless wilderness, every acre of which teemed with deadly danger, were weeping and shivering in rude log cabins in Kentucky. How much they needed the comforts of a holy religion, to encourage them amid their deep despondency." [See Spencer; pg. 40.]
Some of the Burris clan were in a 'delicate' condition. While encamped on the Holston, Franky Bush bore her first child, Elkanah, on 1 June 1783. Two days later, sister Sallie bore her seventh surviving child, Silas Burris Tribble. As many as twenty-seven Burris-Tandy grandchildren were displaced in the hinterlands, in temporary quarters near Black's Fort. [See note depicting Burris Family head count.]

All told, the Bush Colony had raised three crops of corn before, on 1 September, 1783, they were finally summonsed onward. “Upon receiving this news, Wolf Hills was made to rebound with the sounds of rejoicing, such as had not been heard since the surrender of Cornwallis” (in 1781). [See Conkwright; pg. 19.] Bush’s oldest brother had died at Black’s Fort: Josiah left a pair of shoemaker's pincers, an old sword, some old books (including a Bible and old hymn book), pipe and tobacco box, Negro man John, and Negro man Solomon. Josiah’s widow Sarah and their children pressed on to Kentucky, presumably with their captives.

When the contingent arrived at Craig's Station (also 'Cragg's Station,' near what is now Lancaster, Kentucky) sometime in the spring of 1784, "they found empty cabins awaiting them. Craig and his colony of Baptists had moved near Lexington, Kentucky." The last leg, a winter journey of more than 200 miles, must have been grueling. Due to "the badness of the weather and our scattered situation, nothing of importance was done" by church members until April. On 3 April 1784, we find the first preserved record of the band holding services ... in the cabin of their pastor, Elder Elkin. "William's brother Phillip Bush [Jr.] was elected clerk. Joseph and Mildred Embree were received into the church by letter,” [See Conkwright; pp. 21-22.] documentary evidence of a second Burris daughter in proximity to William Bush. Joseph Embree (c1727-1818) had married Mildred Burris (c1750-1797) c1765.

Image of Providence Church, Clark County, Kentucky.
Old Stone Meeting House
On 27 November 1784, the first meeting of the Howard’s Creek Baptists was held at William Bush's cabin. By 1787 these pioneer Baptists erected their first meeting house, “made of logs and with portholes for defense against Indians. According to tradition, while one part of the congregation kept watch at the portholes, the rest worshiped," says Conkwright. According to Hatton, here: "There was a secret cellar under the pulpit for powder, shot, and guns." A map of farms before 1800 shows how the Bush Colony settled around the church, which also served as a fortress. On the same lot, they built the Old Stone Meeting House, known since 1790 as Providence Church.

The legacy of Thomas Burris, Sr. extended beyond thousands of acres in Kentucky. It exceeded the
641 pounds, 17 shillings, 4 pence in his estate and split eleven ways in 1800. He left for posterity more than a beast by the name of Jack, the negro boy Absalom, negro woman Nan, negro girl Sukey, negro boy Ben, negro boy Duke, negro girl Agnes, negro girl Dinah, negro girl Violet, negro girl Alice ... and the unnamed slaves wife Frances held in trust for her heirs. (Frank had escaped captivity when Frances drafted her 1816 will.)

The Frances Tandy-Thomas Burris legacy includes spousal choices made by their daughters.

Frances Tandy Burris and her husband William Bush were able to expand the foothold of Christian teaching while simultaneously warring with Natives who opposed their territorial expansion. They were able to inspire community among men of tremendous self-reliance, and to encourage that those relationships be based on values that wartime struggle in a wilderness might have otherwise eroded.
"... strong, brave men, with hearts full of love and faith, ... were ready to dare every danger, to pray in the rude cabins of weak and timid christians, [sic] to cheer and encourage despairing mourners, and to warn reckless sinners of their awful danger." [See Spencer; pg. 39.]
The Traveling Church had persevered against almost unimaginable environmental challenges. They had braved Native contention for the land they sought. Beyond necessity and innate character, Spencer also attributes their resilience to the experience of resisting oppression by the dominant culture. Men like Tribble "had been tried in the relentless fires of persecution and purified as silver. Inured to hardhips and dangers, they had lost the sense of earthly fear, and were prepared to surmount every difficulty ..."

Sarah Ann Burris's husband, Rev. Andrew Tribble, would pastor Tate's Creek and Unity churches. A son credited 'Old Ironsides' with more than 2,000 baptisms. Tribble also diligently grew his flock by fostering an organized structure of mutually-supportive Associations, or communities of like-minded believers.

Also in the migration was daughter Jane Burris (1759-1811) who had - in 1776 - married Elder James Quisenberry (1759-1830). Quisenberry would organize the Cane Springs Meeting House and pastor the Red River and Friendship congregations in rural, nascent Kentucky.

Mildred Burris's husband, Elder Joseph Embree, would become a Deacon in Bush's Howard's Creek/ Providence Church in 1788.

The Tandy-Burris spiritual legacy emerged in succeeding generations, particularly among grandchildren born to Sallie and Rev. Andrew Tribble. The year following Burris' death, Nancy Tribble (1788-1862), married David Chenault (1771-1831). Brother Chenault served four churches over a period of fifty years. A Burris-Tribble son, Peter Burris Tribble (1774-1849), also took on the role of Baptist preacher. [See Spencer; pp. 130 & 207.]

These men, by and large, both preached and toiled in their fields. Chenault, who served for twenty years as as Justice of the Peace in Madison County, Kentucky is to have refused compensation for his pastoral duties. In his book Raccoon John Smith: Frontier Kentucky's Most Famous Preacher, John Sparks quotes Chenault: "A man who preaches for money is a gospel peddler." Chenault considered his biblical teachings "as free as the water that runs in the branch." He was known to follow this up with, "but if you've got any poor calves or colts ... run 'em down to my farm."
- § -
In January 1783 Daniel Boone surveyed 500 acres in what was then Fayette County, Virginia, now Clark County, Kentucky for Tribble. His client was Rev. Andrew Tribble. The parcel at Howards Lower Creek adjoins that of a Thomas Burrus.

Bold face indicates the author's direct ancestor.
Thomas Burris service in the Revolution.
From a certificate of service, furnished by the Chief of the Records and Pension Office, Washington:

“It appears from the records of this office that Thomas Burris enlisted February 23, 1776, as a private in Captain William Washington's Company, 3rd Virginia Regiment of Foot, Revolutionary War, and his name appears on the muster rolls of that organization to July, 1777. He is reported with the rank of Corporal on muster rolls, as follows: Captain John Francis Mercer's company of this regiment to and including May, 1778; Captain Robert Powell's company, 3rd and 7th Virginia (consolidated) regiment from May, 1778, to September, 1778; Powell's company, 3rd Virginia regiment, for October, 1778; Mercer's company, 3rd Virginia regiment to April, 1779; and Captain Valentine Peyton's company, 3rd Virginia regiment, to November, 1779.”

Some credibly report Burris mustered out as a Sergeant. This wartime record would be congruent with a summer 1780 departure for Kentucky by Thomas Burris, Jr.
The 1771 will of Phillip Bush
Virginia records contain two interesting entries. On 6 March 1745, "William Bryan of St. Thomas Parish, Orange County, sold to Philip P. Bush of the same, in consideration of five shillings and the rent of one ear of Indian corn yearly ..." The deed was witnessed by Zachary Taylor (1707-1768) a first cousin on my maternal grandfather's line and the Virginian who would become grandfather of the future President in 1784. Family lore portrays the James Madison who witnessed Bush’s 10 May 1771 will as another future President: born 16 March 1751, Madison would have been twenty years old at the signing.
Burris Family Head Count
Thomas Burris and Frances Tandy had eleven surviving children between them. Daughters Fanny (c1747-1825) and Elizabeth (1751-1841) were married and settled and did not participate in the migration. Young Mourning Burris (1774- bef 1860) also remained in Orange County, Virginia ... with her widowed mother Frances. All but Elizabeth would die in Kentucky, however.

In addition to Frances Tandy (Burris) Bush and Sarah Ann (Burris) Tribble, three other daughters of Thomas Burris and Frances (Tandy) Burris and were to have migrated together. Mildred (Burris) Embree had borne her sixth child, Mary/ Polly, on 2 Oct 1779. The group left Orange County, Virginia the following summer. Mary Burris
(1756-1788) had married in 1733: she had already borne Lewis Perry (1753-1833) perhaps three sons before the group set out. Jane Burris likely gave birth to Frances, her third surviving child, while encamped at Black's Fort on 22 February 1782. If birth records are correct, Jane bore another child, Joel, before they reached Kentucky ... and after leaving the Black's Fort.

In addition to Thomas, Jr. two other Burris/ Tandy sons made the journey. Thomas and wife Elizabeth Stevens
(1758-1836) married in 1778; they may have had a second or third child in 1782, en route. Brothers Roger Tandy Burris (1769-1828) and William Tandy Burris (1770-1830) were the youngest family members to travel and were unmarried teens upon arrival in Kentucky.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Impatient Man at My Elbow

My 5x gr-grandfather, Thomas Burris (c1722 – 1789), made sacrifices in what Americans call the French and Indian War. He fought from darn near the inception of hostilities. According to Hawthorne in the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol. III (pg 107), Burris “fought at the Battle of the Meadows in early July 1754, and was one of the number ‘who received the present of a Pistole from the Country as an acknowledgement of their gallant behavior upon that occasion.’” Of 400 Virginians engaged in service to The Crown, 17 were killed and 43 wounded (a 15% casualty rate in nine hours of combat). According to an unknown book; found in Burris Family Folders at the public library in Winchester, Kentucky: “George Washington personally presented [Burriss] with a pistol for bravery. The citation is in Washington's handwriting. He is referred to as Sgt. Burrus.”
See note: A Pistole was probably not a weapon.

It's incontrovertible that the 22-year-old Col. George Washington knew Private Burris, ten years his senior. Both a Thomas Burris and Thomas Bhurras are listed on a roll for the Virginia Regiment which surrendered Fort Necessity to the French and their native allies that summer. Washington, however, sternly and suspiciously noted that he was uncertain whether some of his troops arrived in camp after the battle.

19th century rendition of Fort Cumberland in 1755.
This gruesome letter, from Lt. Col. Adam Stephen, to Washington (in charge of Virginia troops at Fort Cumberland on the Potomac River (right), where routed Virginians had retreated and been joined by Marylanders) describes how Burris became a casualty between 9am and noon on 25 Sep 1755. Another man "who would not venture to Run" was captured. Wounded by a tomahawk, “Burris was lucky enough to escape.”

Maryland Gazette, 2 Oct 1755
Burris was tomahawked the year following the Battle of the Meadows at Fort Necessity. It is likely that the regimental surgeon, Scotsman James Craik (1730-1814), performed the amputation. The Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), dated 2 October 1755, has an account of this affair (left). Stephen’s incident report does not mention a wound to the head.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now occupies the land on which the French Fort DuQuesne stood. Young Washington was one of British General Edward Braddock’s two aides in an attack on Fort DuQuesne. Private Burris had likely seen action at Braddock’s Defeat/ Battle of the Monongahela/ Battle of the Wilderness on 9 July, 1755. He served in Company M, under Capt. George Mercer, maternal cousin to George Mason.

The National Archives have done an excellent job of  cross-referencing Burris entries in their collection of Washington's papers. Following the hyperlink trail, I met with some consternation their next revelation. In this letter, Col. Washington - while at his headquarters in Winchester, Virginia - writes Stephen, his second-in-command, about the ‘villain Burrass:’
6 September 1756 –  [Cpl. Philemon Waters and Thomas Burris both served in Mercer’s company.] “Waters and Burrass behaved extremely ill when they were sent down last. If I could lay my hands on them, I would try the effect of 1000 lashes on the former, and whether a General court-martial would not condemn the latter to a life eternal! I shall not at this time enumerate the different kinds of charges laid to both—but desire you will enquire minutely of Mr Burrass what he did with the mare he brought from Fort-Cumberland: She was a creature belonging to the Heirs of Theobald, [poss. Michael Teabolt] caught by Captain Ashby for me. I intended to have had her appraised, and allowed the heirs her full value. She was first carried to Fort-Cumberland, then brought down by that villain Burrass, and here sold or swapped—I want to know to whom, that I may get her, & do as I first intended.” 
Washington carries on for many paragraphs, explaining how he wants plunder handled in the future.

It was on 25 May 1757 that the Virginia House of Burgesses resolved that the Treasurer pay £10 out of Public Money ‘in his hands’ to Burris “as a Recompence for the Loss of his Arm in the Service of his Country,” which was, at that time, more likely Virginia than England.

Journals of the House of Burgesses, page 478. Entry for 25 May 1757.

I'd like to think it a tribute to Burris' character that, despite wounds received, he persevered in wartime service. Fitting his abilities to military need, he was chosen to act as a courier. Because some correspondents referred to the messenger, my ancestor remains in the historical record.

Commisary officer Maj. John Carlyle writes Washington from Alexandria. The one-armed Burris is apparently back in good graces: he had delivered Washington’s letter written on 27 August. Five days later, we have this reply.
1 September 1758 – “It is Extream Wett Weather & Burriss In his Shirt I recolected I had the Suit of Cloaths that was At Williamsburg I therefor Lett him have them to Carrey Up & Deliver to You.”
What service was Burriss then performing for his country? Was he modelling a fine suit of clothes? More likely he stood; tired, wet and bedraggled; in worn buckskins. Carlyle had added fineries to his saddlebag.

Also dated 1 September 1758 is a letter destined for Washington from his mentor, George William Fairfax, penned at Fairfax’s plantation Belvoir. He begs off in the second sentence, writing,“… I dont care to detain the bearer.” 

Near the end of this rather short note, Fairfax writes:
“And being call’d upon by an impatient Man at my Elbow, which I hope will be a sufficient Apology to conclude with all our Compliments …”
In the curator’s notes we find:
“The impatient man was Thomas Burris who brought down from GW at his camp the two [now] missing letters to Fairfax (dated 22 & 27 August) as well as the missing letter of 27 Aug. to John Carlyle, and the missing letter to Humphrey Knight referred to in Knight’s letter of 2 September. Burris got back to Fort Cumberland from Alexandria and Winchester on 11 Sept. with letters from Alexandria and environs, written by John Carlyle (1 Sept.), George William Fairfax (1 Sept.), Sarah Cary Fairfax (1 Sept., missing), Humphrey Knight (2 Sept.), John Patterson (2 Sept.), and probably John Kirkpatrick (3 Sept.), and with letters from Winchester and environs written by Charles Smith (7 Sept.) and perhaps by Christopher Hardwick (3 Sept.).” 
The unmarried Washington was supposedly sweet on Fairfax’s wife, Sarah (Cary) Fairfax. It is not unlikely that the missing note from her was deemed too personal to survive. A purported love letter from Sally, dated 12 September 1758, is thought to be a forgery. The date of the missive fits the scheme of things, however.
See note: Convergence on the Cary clan.

On the cover of a letter, written 2 September 1758 by Humphrey Knight at Mount Vernon, to be delivered to Washington, was the notation: “Sr I was obli[ged] to let Bu[rris] have 2.6 shillings before [he] would go away: H.K.” Knight, reporting the plantation’s profitability to its owner, may have sought to highlight fiduciary responsibility to his employer. Burris seems not only impatient, but insistent.
Washington's map of route between HQ & Ft. Cumberland.

These curator’s notes give readers a sense of the time Burris was investing, and how far he traveled between collection points. It may have taken ten days to get from one end of the circuit they've described to the other. 
(See Google map here.) 

Washington's map (right) relays his perception of the geography Burris operated in, when close to the front lines. Missives from landed gentry do little to describe the risks he faced as a wartime courier.

On 7 Sep 1758 Capt. Charles Smith writes Washington from Fort Loudoun, which was under Smith's authority.
“I was oblig. to keep Burris one Day after he came from Alexandrey, there being many Gentlemen at cort wanting to write to ther friends at camp & withall to send the Last Papers up. I have kept a hors Burris Wrode Down here very Poor, which most People says he is yours …” 
Memories of ‘sharp dealing’ may have lingered in Smith’s assessment of Thomas Burris’ character. The consequences of being caught trading in horseflesh a second time could have been deadly for Burris. The selection of able mounts might indicate Burris' desire to succeed in his task ... in difficult terrain.

Smith continues about the horse more than a week later:
18 Sep 1758 – “The Horse that Burres rode Down is a Light bay about 14 Hands high, favours a horse I have seen you have no brands, only some white hairs Groing on the top of his Neck the Reason of my Stoping him—Burres first told me he was Your’s, & you Lent him & afterwards Offered him for Sale, hardwick says he Does not know him to be Yours.”
From the curators:
“Thomas Burris brought GW’s letters down from Fort Cumberland to Winchester and Alexandria in late August. Smith took this horse - the ‘Light bay’ - from Burris on Burris’s return from Alexandria to Winchester [en route] to Fort Cumberland. This was the same “villain Burrass” who in 1756 “sold or swapped” one of GW’s [Teabolt’s estate’s] horses …” 
Is there an aspersion here, cast by curators in the National Archives?

A month later, Smith continues to contend with the ‘Light bay.’ He writes Washington on 12 October 1758, “I have sent the Horse I Stopt from Burris to Your Quarter …” The man responsible for Washington's Bullskin Plantation reports he does not recognize the horse as Washington's.

Thomas Burris, Sr. had married Frances Tandy (1730-1816) in 1750. They’d had four daughters (including my 4x gr-grandmother Sarah) by the time Tom lost his arm in 1755. Two more children were born between his trauma and the inception of Burris’ courier service. Daughter Jane was likely conceived in late September or early October of 1758, around the time Burris disappears from this set of records.

North American hostilities between France and Britain ended in 1760. Frances bore Thomas two more sons and two daughters in peacetime. Thomas lived out his days in Orange County, Virginia, but Frances and the children migrated to his Kentucky lands after his death. [See Condemned to a Life Eternal.]

Notes ~
Burris' Pistole:
A Pistole was probably not a weapon. It was likely a Spanish doubloon, perhaps in addition to ‘bounty money’ of £2 8p Burris received for service from 29 July – 29 September 1754. A 'Pistole' is also colloquialism for a land patent greater than 100 acres. I’ve found no land records for Burris/ Burras/ Burrace/ Burroughs/ Bhurass/ Birris/ Burrows from that era. His 1788 will, however allocates more than 2000 acres in Kentucky, perhaps granted during the revolutionary era.

Mapmaker and surveyor George Washington aspired to follow Fairfax into land speculation. According to Loudermilk, the 'New Store' in Stephen's 1755 account of Burris' wounds (above) was a storehouse or magazine, situated by the Ohio Company of Virginia and protected by Fort Cumberland. Those with access to men like Mercer and Washington had opportunities to cash in on westward expansion. In 1767 Washington acquired the land on which the Battle of The Meadows was fought. He kept title to the 234-acre tract that he called 'Mount Washington,' until he died.

Side Note on Sarah Cary:
Sarah Cary (1730-1811) and I both are to have descended from Col. Thomas Randolph (1683-1729) and wife Judith Fleming (1689-1743). Cary’s great, great-grandparents are my 6x great-grandparents … via Randolph lines that lead, individually, to each of my maternal grandparents.