Friday, July 17, 2020

George Cleveland Burnett

George Cleveland Burnett
, son of Edward George Burnett and Frances “Fannie” Rice was born November 1885 in Covington, Newton County, Georgia. The Burnett family was a large one with 10 children. I can document 8 of them by name—Captain Charles Burnett, Richard Clifford Burnett, Maggie Burnett, William Clarence Burnett, Claud Young Burnett, Ida Burnett, George Cleveland Burnett, and Cornelia “Nealy or Neal” Ann Burnett. The 9th and 10th children can be documented but not named via the 1900 Gem Creek, District 85, Newton County, Georgia census record that shows Fannie had 10 children, 8 of which were living.

This has been a hard family to research, beginning with George’s father, Edward. Edward’s last name was actually Caton, not Burnett. After much research many years ago by a group of Burnett relatives, we came to the conclusion that Edward’s father, William Caton, died or divorced his mother Drucilla Henson just prior to 1850. Around 1854 or 1855, Drucilla married Joseph Burnett and they moved to Gwinnett County, Georgia. At least two of Drucilla’s three children with William Caton changed their last name to Burnett, Edward and his brother Samuel Pride Burnett. Samuel is my 2nd great grandfather. If you’re interested in reading about the name change, click here

George and I are 1st cousins 3x removed. Our nearest common relatives are William Caton and Drucilla Henson. 

George was just eight years old when he lost his father Edward who died in Conyers, Rockdale County, Georgia on April 18, 1894. Edward was buried at Almand Cemetery there in Conyers.

On June 25, 1900, 14-year-old George lived with his family in Gum Creek, Newton County, Georgia. His widowed mother was a farmer on a rented farm. There were four children living in the home—Clarence, Ida, Cleveland, and Nealy (Cornelia). Clarence was working as a farm laborer and both George, who was enumerated as Cleveland, and Cornelia were at school. It was noted that Fannie, Clarence, and Ida were able to read, write, and speak English. George’s brother Richard (enumerated as Clifford) lived next door with his wife Mary and daughters Fannie and Katie.

On April 27, 1910, George lived with his brother Richard and his family on Hammonsville Road in the Gum Creek neighborhood of Newton County. George was a farm laborer on a home farm, most likely helping his brother work his farm. George was unable to read or write. Richard and his wife Mary had six children—Fannie M. Burnett, Katie Bell Burnett, Metz Burnett, Ray Burnett, Charles Burnett, and Billie Burnett.

George enlisted in the U.S. Army for a period of three years at Ft. Slocum in New York on November 9, 1910. He stated that he was born in Newton County, Georgia, was 25 years old, and a farmer. George had blue eyes, medium brown hair, a ruddy complexion, and was six foot one and a half inches tall. He was discharged on November 8, 1913 at Fort Mason, “once known as the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, US Army, in San Francisco, California.” If I’m reading the paper trail correctly, at the age of 28, George re-enlisted in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio on July 16, 1914. At the time, he lived in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia so I’m not sure why he would have re-enlisted in Ohio. By December 1917, he was serving as a Mess Sergeant. On June 18, 1919, George served with the Quartermaster Corps, “the U.S. Army’s oldest logistics branch.” He received an honorable discharge on July 8, 1920 upon the abolition of the Regular Army Reserve following the passage of the National Defense Act of 1920

George's World War I service card

George apparently remained a part of the Organized Reserve until his death of tubercular meningitis in St. Louis, Missouri on November 8, 1921. At the time, he was a soldier at Jefferson Barracks, “a training and recruitment station for soldiers heading to Europe,” there in Missouri. At age 35, George never married. He was buried in the Burnett family plot at Almand Cemetery in Conyers on November 11. On June 2, 1932, the Conyers Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy filed an application for a military headstone. It was to be delivered to George’s brother Clarence who lived in Conyers. 

Application for Headstone

The stone was shipped in late September and reads:

[it has a cross above his name]
NOVEMBER 8, 1921


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