Taking a look back, in late 2000 my sister and I were just getting started on our Burnett(e) line. We knew our great-grandfather was Thomas Terrell Burnette. The family Bible listed his parents as Samuel P. Burnette and Virginia Overton. We started our research by looking at the Ancestry.com message boards and quickly found a woman looking for Samuel and Virginia. A week or so later we discovered a man doing the same thing. That soon followed with two more researchers—all with the same goal. We were scattered across five states—Virginia, Georgia, Maine, Alabama, and Tennessee. For the most part, each of us could document our direct lines and were aware of Samuel and Virginia, but didn’t know much more. We shared what we knew, compared notes, and then set out to do more research. I offer here details found in records as well as our speculation.
In my Family Tree Maker file, I have Drucilla Henson listed as being born on January 22, 1818 in Knox, Tennessee. Her parents were William Henson and Charity Charlotte. I sourced this information based on an email from one of the researchers. Unfortunately, I don’t know where he got this info and he died a couple of years ago. The same researcher recalled stories being passed down that Burnett was not the original family name. He was told it might have been Cain, Caton, or Katon. He was also told that Samuel may have assumed the name of the family he lived with ... or he may have been an orphan. He recalled his grandmother telling him that somewhere back in the line a widow married a Burnett and the children assumed the name. Based on this information, he searched Georgia and Tennessee records and found a Knox County marriage record for a Drucilla Henson who married William Caton on September 26, 1840 in Knox County, Tennessee.
|Knox County, TN marriage record for William Caton and Drucilla Henson|
|1850 Knox County, TN census record for Drucille, Edward, and Mary Caton|
|1850 Blount County, TN census record for Samuel Caton living with Lucinda Hitch|
- Samuel, age 18, born in Tennessee
- George, age 16, born in Tennessee (as in Edward George)
- Elizabeth, age 15, born in Tennessee
- Madison, age 4, born in Georgia
- Francis, age 1, born in Georgia
|1860 Gwinnett County, GA census record for Drucilla, Joseph, and family|
Sometime before 1864, the family moved to Newton County, Georgia where Joseph was listed in the “1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia.” On April 6, 1867, Joseph was recorded in the Newton County “Georgia, Returns of Qualified Voters and Reconstruction Oath Books, 18671869.”
On September 22, 1870, Drucilla and Joseph lived in Conyers, Newton County, Georgia. Drucilla was “keeping house.” Only two children lived in the home now—Francis J. (age 12), and Laura S. (age 10, born in Georgia). Laura was born after the 1860 census. The family lived next door to John M. and Jane Overton and six houses from Abijah and Elizabeth Overton. John and Abijah Overton were brothers. Drucilla’s son Samuel would eventually marry Millicent Virginia Overton, daughter of Abijah and Elizabeth Overton. It’s fun to figure out how and/or where people meet.
|1870 Newton County, GA census for Drucilla, Joseph, and family. John M. Overton lives next door.|
On June 15, 1880, Drucilla and Joseph lived in District 476 of Rockdale County. The enumerator recorded two daughters living in the home—Laura (age 18—another age issue) and Jane (age 16).
|1880 Rockdale County, GA census record for Drucilla, Joseph, and family. Last record found.|
By the way, group research can be so much fun. Each person brings something different to the table. Try it sometime if you haven’t done so already. We had a ball and made new friendships along the way.