Friday, October 23, 2020

Jesse Burnette, a family twin mystery

Jesse Burnette is part of a family mystery for me. Years ago, Daddy told me that my great-grandparents, Thomas “Tom” Terrell Burnette and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jones of Walton and Greene counties in Georgia had two sets of twins. One set lived but the other set didn’t survive infancy, dying weeks apart, cause unknown. The twins that survived were Claudia (Daddy called her Claudie) and Maudie. I don’t remember them, but Daddy often spoke of his aunts. Claudia lived to be 82 and Maudie 96. No one knew anything about the other set of twins, other than they supposedly existed. It wasn’t until I started researching my family that I learned of Jesse.

When the 1900 Walton County (Vinegar Hill District), Georgia census was taken on June 26, the enumerator recorded four children living in the home with Tom and Lizzie—Luther Terrell Burnette (age 5), Eva Drucilla Burnette (age 4, enumerated as Ever), Floria Mae Burnette (age 2), and Jesse (age 1). Jesse was enumerated as their son, born January 1899 in Georgia. Since I know his three older siblings were born in Walton County, I would assume he was as well since they lived there in 1900. One thing that puzzles me though is the enumerator recorded Elizabeth as the mother of five children, with five children living. So, why did he only record four children? Where was the fifth child? Was it alive and living with another family member? Or did the enumerator make a mistake? I may never know the answer to these questions but I do know that Tom and Lizzie had eight more children after the 1900 census was taken—Willie Lloyd Burnette, Prince Albert Burnette, Claudia Burnette, Maudie Burnette, Henry T. Burnette, Eleanor Estelle Burnette, Samuel A. Burnette, and Julia Virginia Burnette. Claudia and Maudie were the only children that were twins.

The 1900 census record is the only record I’ve found to document Jesse’s life by name. Was he a twinless twin when the census was taken? If so, that would mean his brother or sister probably died in May or June and he died shortly after the census was taken. But I can’t prove that. 

1900 Walton County, Vinegar Hill, Georgia Soundex Card

1900 Walton County, Vinegar Hill, Georgia census

The 1910 Greshamville, Greene County, Georgia census taken on April 28 does show that Elizabeth was the mother of 10 children with 8 of them living. All of her known children are accounted for in the 1910 record so there clearly was another child. Was it a boy or girl? What did they name it? Was that child Jesse’s twin?

1910 Greene County, Georgia Soundex Cards

Sadly, I have no idea where Jesse or the other child were buried either. I checked several Walton County cemeteries in Find a Grave where other Jones and Burnette family members were buried but don’t find anything. Georgia didn’t start registering births and deaths until 1919 and there are no official birth records before then. So many questions that I can’t answer and will probably never have answers.


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