After finding my great, great-grandmother Temple Burton’s tombstone this week, it seems right to focus on the surname Burton for Surname Saturday.
According to a myriad of ancestry and genealogy sites on the internet, Burton is of English origin and means “settlement by a fort.” Alternate spellings are Burtone, Bortune, or Bortone.
I also found a few Burton family crests and coat-of-arms, including this one at BurtonsCoast2Coast.
Tempe, aka Tempy or Temple Burton is the oldest ancestor of African descent that I’m able to trace on my father’s side. According to an obituary included on Ray Bellande’s Ocean Springs website and archived at the Southern University of Mississippi, Tempe was born in 1821 and her tombstone lists March 1, 1925 as her date of death. That means she lived a whopping 104 years! Census reports show that many of those years were spent with Col. W.R. Stuart and his wife Elizabeth McCauley Stuart in Ocean Springs, first as their slave and after emancipation as their cook.
My family believes that the Colonel and Tempe had several children together including, Alfred Burton Stuart and my great-grandmother, Josephine Burton Ford.
Alfred Burton Stuart was born in April, 1860 and died on Oct. 4, 1928 in New Orleans. With wife, Clara he had nine children, including the musically talented, Tempy Stuart Smith. My grandmother, Lillie Mae Ford remembered Tempy Smith and her family as “famous New York City musicians.” After living in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Tempy and her family did relocate to New York City in the late 1920s. My cousin, Monique Smith Anderson, also partner on this research journey with me, is a direct descendant of Tempy Smith.
Josephine Burton Ford was born around 1875 according to census records. She raised her children in Ocean Springs, Mississippi after marrying the Reverend James Ford on April 17, 1894. Census forms show she lived in Ocean Springs until 1920, but after that, I can’t find a trace of her. Josephine and James had at least six children, two of which stayed in Ocean Springs. My grandfather, Martin Luther Ford was born to the couple on October 19, 1905. He married Lillie Mae Daniels Ford and they raised their five children there. Eventually, Grandpa Martin moved the family to New Orleans where he died in January, 1985.
My father, Joseph Burton Ford is the last of Tempe’s descendants to carry her surname.
The only famous Burtons I can think of are Richard Burton and Tim Burton. (My husband reminded me of Roots’ LeVar Burton). But I’m sure there must be some historical figures that I’ve overlooked. If you know any, shout them out to me.
What historical figures share your name?