Wednesday, October 22, 2014

52 Ancestors - #42 Rosetta George – The Mother of Gems


My paternal great grandparents were B.W. (Burrell Williamson) and Rosetta George Burris. I don’t know much about my father’s grandmother because Rosetta died when he was only seven and a half months old.

Burrell Williamson Burris

Rosetta George
(Photos from original oil paintings)

Rosetta George was born September 17, 1871 at Brumley, Miller County, Missouri. Her parents were Bryant S. George and Sarah K. Hawkins. Her eldest brother was Dr. Charles Elmore George and he was born in February 1868. They had a brother Bryant E. who had died at 8 months of age on November 19, 1870. Another brother Frank was born February 3, 1873 but only lived until he was 6 ½ months old. On October 5, 1874, their youngest brother Phineus Haziah was born. Rosetta was the only daughter.

In the June 18, 1880 US Census for Glaize, Miller County, Missouri, her brother Charles is twelve and helping their father with the farm. Rosetta was 8 and Phineus was 6 years old. Sometime after she turned nine years old she became a Baptist.

Miss Rosetta George was married to Mr. B.W. Burris on April 14, 1887. She was just 15 ½ years old. He was almost 29 years old. They had four children - the first was Pearl born March 5, 1888.  W. Edgar Burris, their only son was born on March 9, 1889 and died ten days later.  Their second daughter Opal was born September 9, 1891 and died July 7, 1892. Opal and Edgar were both buried at the Hawkins Cemetery in Brumley, Miller County, Missouri.

Rosetta George Burris


Rosetta, Pearl and BW Burris

In her younger years, Rosetta taught seventeen successful terms of school all together. In June 13, 1900 they were still in Miller County, Missouri and he was a farmer and she was a teacher. It was after this that the Burris family went from Miller County to the west and spent several years in the western states; they homesteaded for a while in eastern Washington State near Ellensburg in Kittitas County and then moved to Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado where they finally had another child, my grandmother Ruby who was born April 24, 1902. While they lived in Colorado, Burrell worked as a dairyman for the Riverside Dairy.

They then moved to Viola, Arkansas, where B.W. engaged in the mercantile business for three years and Pearl met her first husband; they were still in Viola, Arkansas in August 1908.The family then returned to their home state of Missouri and settled in Raymondville, Texas County, Missouri where Burrell and Rosetta lived for the rest of their lives.

They were in Raymondville by December 5, 1909 to run a mercantile business (in 1910 they were co owners with Sherman Shipp and Dr R. C. Haggard.) Sallie Hamilton who lived on farm next door to them had been the Raymondville Postmistress since December 10, 1906. On July 1, 1914 Rosetta was appointed Postmistress. Rosetta was a successful partner with her husband in the mercantile business. In 1918 it was known as BW Burris & Company and it was a retail store with dry goods and groceries. During World War I, Rosetta took an active part in all Liberty Loan campaigns. B.W. owned the store until about 1925.

At the time of her death Rosetta was a member of the Royal Neighbors lodge which was a fraternal beneficiary society founded in 1895 by nine women when women were not allowed to vote, couldn’t own property, or have life insurance. The society provided life insurance for women and stood firmly behind the women’s suffrage movement.  In fact, the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote had just been ratified nine days before Rosetta died. Royal Neighbors were one of the first to insure children and to recognize mortality schedules establishing that women live longer than men, and to reflect that difference in their premiums.

She was also a member of the Yeoman, which was most probably, the Brotherhood of American Yeoman which was founded in 1897 and was also fraternal benefit/insurance society that had both men and women as members.

Rosetta had been ill for awhile and was going to have surgery at West Side Hospital in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. It was a private hospital established in 1896.

Rosetta wrote her daughter Ruby a letter and mailed it at noon on August 19, 1920 in Rolla, Missouri – her return address was “Rosetta Burris - Rolla on way to be operated on.” According to her letter she had arrived in Rolla at 10 a.m. and had paid Mrs. Ben Williams $3 to give her a ride from Licking which was 35 miles. Licking itself was 12 miles north of Raymondville where she lived. “I feel all right will leave on the 3:55 train. I have a room where I can rest good. I tried to sleep but could not. Now don’t worry about me I will get along all right.” She admonishes her husband to take care of Ruby. “Don’t let her have to draw any water or lift or be on her feet. I do hope she will keep up and get better.” And now, for my favorite line of the whole letter “Don’t forget the chicken shut up in house.” She also instructs him to get eight pounds of unslacked lime and to “put 2 or 3 # in cistern and to put some in a jar of water and to pour some every day in closet and keep the rest closed tight in something tight you could put quite a bit in ½ gal fruit jars. You see the lime kills all germs.” Rosetta closes her letter with “Love to all & a big kiss for Baby. Now Ruby, take good care of yourself. Bye bye. Mother”

A postcard from Rosetta to her daughter Ruby was postmarked August 21, 1920 10:30 p.m. St Louis, Missouri. Her message to her daughter was “This is Sam Louder’s instructions on the other side. Mother” The other side of the card said “Late to bed and late to rise, makes it hard to open your eyes.”

On Friday, August 27, 1920, Rosetta saw her doctor, Dr. Claude Corel, at 4 p.m. just before her surgery and then died at 5:30 pm following the surgery. She was 48 years, 11 months, 10 days old at her death. The death certificate states that she died of corcumonia of the uterus – shock following operation for corcumonia of uterus which he said was confirmed by a necroscopic (or post-mortem) examination of uterus. I have not been able to find the meaning of “corcumonia” anywhere – it is not listed as a medical term that I have been able to find either.

When Rosetta died, she left behind her aged father and mother, Bryant and Sarah George of Raymondville, her husband, B. W. Burris, two daughters, Pearl Toft and Ruby Mitchell, two brothers, Charles Elmore George and Phineus Haziah George, and a grandson, Lionell Burris Mitchell.

Her funeral was held at the Raymondville Baptist Church at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 31st. Rosetta was buried at the Allen Cemetery just outside of Raymondville. B.W was buried next to her in 1934. In 1975 my father (their grandson) Lionell Burris Mitchell purchased a headstone for their graves since as he put it, “their two gems couldn’t be bothered to do it.”


Great Great Great Grandparents: Haziah George/Mary Jane (Jennie) Wilson

Great Great Great Grandparents: William David Hawkins/Catherine Elizabeth McCubbin

Great Great Grandparents: Bryant S George/Sarah K Hawkins

Great Grandparents: Rosetta George/Burrell Williamson Burris

Grandparents: Ruby Burris/Roscoe Arthur Mitchell

Parents: Lionell Burris Mitchell/Elva Rosalie Tucker

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