Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Mary Angeline BURNS Gorham 1844 -1916
Copyright © David V. Kester, 2001
Mary BURNS Gorham Photo at right
Letters sent to Mary BURNS Gorham
Township: Burlington Township, Bradford County PA
Transcribed  by David Kester
Year: 1857-1869
Photo Source : David Kester
War Hits Home (1862-1863) A—(War Hits Home (1862-1863) B)


Feb the 28 1863

Dear Granma, it is Monday and the snow is so deep that I cant go to school, so I thought that I would write you a few lines to let you know that I have not forgotten you although it seems a great while since you went away from home. We are all well at present and hope that these few lines will find you the same. It seems lonsome when we go over to your house and not see you there; have you heard from Jimmie since you have been down there? We got a letter from him about two weeks ago. Uncle Horace got two the next day after we got ours. He sent one of them down to Leraysville, but I guess that you was gone before it got there for aunt Jane had a letter from aunt Mary and she said that you had not heard from him yet. He wrote that he was healthy but there was a good many that could not say that. He said that he had been in a battle and he said that he did not want to be in another. Well, I guess that aunt Mary will send you the letter and then you will know more about it. Uncle Gerome has got his discharge. He is in Illinois now, he is sick now. Henry Harris(117) has got his discharge, he is pretty sick. Dr. Sweeny is doctoring him, he is to your house. It has been very sickly here this winter.

[Floretta Kendall]


(117) Private James Henry Harris, Company E, 141st Pa. Volunteer Infantry enlisted Aug 25, 1862 and was discharged with a Surgeon’s certificate on Jan 22, 1863. After recovering from his illness he reenlisted Feb 14, 1864 in Co. B, 161st PVI where he served until the end of the war, and was discharged Nov 12, 1865.


Burlington Feb the 25 /63

Dear Sister & Family

Yours of the 16[th] is now before me, and with pleasure, I hasten to reply, not that I have anything of much importance to communicate, but as the old proverb says, do unto others as you would like to be done by. It had ben so long since I have written to you, and you did not write, I thought you had entirely forgotten us. But we was gladdened with the arrival of your kind letter, which came to hand last Sunday. Lawrence, Rob, Sarahan and myself was over to Horace,s Sunday. He had brought your letter up their the night before. So I read it with gratification and we was all glad to hear from you, but felt sorry to think you had to make so short a visit amoung so meny Uncles and cousins. I know you would enjoyd yourselves if you could of stayed and made a good visit. I suppose mother stayed out their. When & how is she coming home, is any of the Beech woods folks a going to fetch her back? I would like to know. Mother said if any of them come out she would write and let us know. It is lonesom hear without mother. Lawrence & me was over to Dan,s(118) last night. I took your letter over for Elvira to read. We talked about what a change time could bring forth, Only one short mounth ago Mr Rundle [Rundell] had his little family all around his table, as promisin with health and long life as any of us. But alass! The circle is broke, death has entered.(119) You will readily recollect Mary, when the cold hand of death Broke the little circle that we ust to enjoy. We can simpthise with those that have the afflictions to bear. Week ago last Saturday(120) they Buried Roccenie [Roxena] Rundall, she died with the same complaint. Deretha Rundall,(121) the last one out of the four girls, they don’t expect her to live, we heard today she was worse.

We are all well now, Floretta & Lettia(122) had a sore throat a few days but I doctored them thoughly, they got over it. Mary Travis(123) is quite sick with Diphtheria. Doctor Tuttle was there yesterday to see her, he thinks she will get along now, (Hurm [Herman?] Tuttle, he is Doc Sweeny[‘s] student).

Kizah,s(124) man has got his discharge and come home. He has ben back about three weeks. He is a hard looking spessiman for a living man. He looks more like a gohst than a person, Docter Sweeny is docterin him, He is some better. Kizah & him was over to old Henreys to cut apples, they came with the horse & cuter [cutter, a small sleigh]. They are coming down here before long.

You want to know how Sarah E(125) & her man gets along, well they got along pretty fast the other eavning, I think, when their horse ran away with them. Sam & here was at the party to the corners. They started home, their horse got scart & run, the wagon tipped over and about that time Sarah Elen jumped out. The horse broke loose from the wagon and went home and left them to look out for themselves. Sarah Elen has got the right kind of man for her. They are two willing ones, he is willing to go and she is willing he should! They go some whares most every day, but I guess they cant always visit and ride around.

I saw Jany & Sarah Campbell(126) last night. Sarah said she wanted to go and see you and would if her father ever went that way again. He went to the viladge [LeRaysville] but did not know whare you lived. Jany said she wish she could go and stay two or three weeks if there had ben good sleighing. I presume you would [have] seen some of the folks from this way. We have had a great deal of snow, but no sleighing.(127) It snows one day and thaws the next.

Mary you must come up, I can tell you more in an hour than I could write in a week. I am a poor hand to write a letter you know. Leren Hill(128) has got his discharge and got out of the sloughter yard. Luckey for him, he is fat as a bear and well as he ever was. He has ben up to see Jany. But poor Joe Morley,(129) his Father went after him but could not get his discharge. He was sick and could not speak a loud word. He sat in his tent on the cold ground without a sock on his foot and covered with lice. Uncle Jace said he never had such feelings in all his life, it is hard to think of.

Emily(130) is looking for Wright home on a furlow with Alexander,[131] he is sick. We heard Eck got his discharge, if he has he will be home soon. O how I wish Jimmie could come home. He wrote in Robs letter he was sick of the war. He had ben in one Battle he never wanted to be in another. I hope he will not have to experience another such a scean. Horace sent you James Letter, you will hear from him. I wrote to Jimmie last week, but don’t expect he will get it. He don’t get no letters from home, I don’t know why. I hope he will get it, he wants to hear from home so bad. We expect Gerome home every day. He wrote that he was at Black-bury(132) Station where John & Mary(133) lives. He says he has ben in a hair breadth of getting killed.

Well I must close now for the children have come home from school and you might as well try to write amongst a pack of wild geese And I guess it will be a weeks job for you to read what I have wrote. You would not wonder at it if you knew what a crazy old pen I have had to write with. I will let Sis(134) finish. So good bye, from your affectionate Sister,

Jane A. Kendall to Mary Gorham

Mary, you will find enclosed a piece of poor Maryann Rundles(135) shroud, the last remains we have to see. They was all buried in flanel. They have not had their funerals yet, but will as soon as the family gets well. Write when you can and don’t say you have nothing to write about. If you cant think get James to help you. I suppose Liza(136) wrote that aunt Patty(137) was dead, her funeral was up to our school house. I was over to Sarahans yesterday to the quilten, she has just wrote a letter to Mother.

Trancriber’s Note: The accounts recorded in letters #48, 49 and 51 by Sarah Ann, Elvira and Jane Kendall respectively, indicate four of the Rundall daughters, Luranna, Mary Ann, Roxana and Doretha died during this terrible epidemic. In Leon Lane’s Notebook I (son of Noel W. and Floretta KENDALL Lane), he quotes a January 13, 1936 letter from David Rundell "My sisters Mary Ann, Diretha, Susana and Roxana all died with that dreadful scourge diptheria (sic) in January and February 1863." This variance in the names of the girls who died has not as yet been resolved and perhaps may never be. The written testimony of a family member seems irrefutable, even though given 73 years after the fact. Likewise the written accounts of the three Kendall wives recorded at the time of this epidemic seem equally unimpeachable. All three mention Luranna by name, with a slight difference in spelling and with Elvira being the only one to state that she died. Elvira also wrote that Susan was "sick with the same complaint", but her statement that "The Doctor thinks that… if Susan can stand the grief, she will get well" seems to indicate that they were referring to Susan, the mother, who did survive. A possible explanation would be that the Kendalls universally referred to Susana by the nickname Luranna, however there is nothing to support this supposition. No cemetery records have been found which would resolve this discrepancy.


(118) Dan Kendall, brother of Lawrence and Robert and husband of Elvira Lane.

(119) see letters #48 & 49 re the diphtheria epidemic which hit the Rundall family very hard.

(120) February 14, 1863, Roxena Rundall, the third of the Rundall children to die.

(121) Doretha Rundall was the fourth daughter to die in the Rundall family.

(122) Jane & Lawrence’s daughter named for her grandmother Letitia CAMPBELL Burns.

(123) Possibly H.M. Travis age 12, d/o Myron and Phoebe BAILEY Travis.

(124) Keziah Travis, age 20, d/o Zury and Fanny Travis.
(125) Sarah Ellen Travis, age 19, d/o Myron & Phoebe Travis m. Sam Gibbs, age 31.

(126) Jane’s sister-in-law Sarah Jane Kendall, age 18, d/o Elam & Deborah KNAPP Kendall. and Jane’s cousin Sarah Ellen Campbell, age 19, d/o Josephus & Asenath MILLER Campbell.

(127) Heverly’s Bradford County Chronology said the winter of 1862/63 was a, "Winter of much snow and little sleighing."

(128) Pvt Lorenzo D. Hill, Co.E 151 Pa Vol. Infantry mustered in 25 Aug 1862. Was discharged with a Surgeon’s Certificate 18 Jan 1863.

(129) Joseph Morley, age 26, s/o Jacob & Harriet Morely.

(130) Emily Lane, age 19/20, d/o Daniel & Lydia MORTON Lane m. Sgt. William S. Wright, of Co. E, 141st Pa Vol. Infantry, age 19/20, s/o Lyman & Lovince Wright.

(131) Alexander (Eck) Lane 2nd, 20, s/o Rev Alex and Catherine SHOEMAKER Lane, mustered in Co.E, 141st PVI 25 Aug 1862 but was not discharged until 28 May, 1865, see letter #72.

(132) Blackberry Station Illinois, where Jane & Mary’s brother Jimmie was initially camped.

(133) John Miller, brother of Jane’s Aunt Asenath MILLER Campbell lived in Belvedere, Illinois.

(134) Sis was a a nickname for Floretta Kendall who was actually Jane’s daughter.

(135) Mary Ann Rundall age 19 was the second of the Rundall children to die with diphtheria.

(136) Eliza Jane GORHAM Beech, half sister to James J. Gorham of LeRaysville.

(137) Martha J. Clark, d. 3 Feb 1863, age 67y7m2d, w/o William Clark, 1793, d. 2 Mar 1856.


[Feb 25, 1863]

Dear Aunt

As ma has been writing A few lines to you and left some spair paper at my disposal I thought I would trouble you to read a few lines more. I have nothing to write that will interest you. I have just finished writing my composition. We are going to read composition to morrow. Delia and me is going to read them. We read composition two weeks ago tomorrow. Ma and aunt Sarah Ann was there. Aurilla Clark(138) read them, we spoke pieces. Porter(139) and me spoke one about the red apple. Porter and Debbie spoke one, Debbie had to wear specticles. Porter was her son. We are going to speak pieces Friday after next. Sara(140) won’t tell us when school is out, it does not last long anyhow. Lettie & Wilber(141) & me has left off head of our classes more times than any the rest of the scholars. Sara says that Lettie has learnt faster than any other scholar this winter. Owen(142) has got so that he can spell better than Willie Clark.(143) Willie is six years old and Owen is only four. He has been to school every day this winter and has had the hooping cough all the time. He has not had it very hard. Allie McMurrin has had it offal hard, when he gets to coughing he can hardly catch his breath. The baby has not got it very hard.

Debbie has had a valentine and Jennie(144) has had three. There was a gold ring in one of them. She has more than her share of valentines and letters. She had a letter from [cousin] Granville the other day. She has got his likeness. We all went a sleigh riding the other night, Zolph (145) took a load, Wells Morgan was up here and he wanted to go with Lettie, there was 14 of us. When we came back we stoped to Hol Compton[‘s](146) and had a nice play. Jamie rode up as far as Hols and stoped there. Aunt Sarah ann is going to have a quilting to morrow. There is three funeral up to our schoolhouse week from next Sunday. Ezrah Watkins,(147) Nab Watkins(148) [and] one of the Powers(149) that died in the war. So good night, give my love to all.

Floretta to Aunt Mary


(138) Orille Clark, age 14, d/o Joseph & Lydia Clark. Orille died in December of 1863, probably of diphtheria (see letter #63).

(139) Porter Kendall, age 13, s/o Daniel & Elvira LANE Kendall.

(140) Their teacher (& aunt) Sarah Ellen Campbell, d/o Josephus & Asenath MILLER Campbell who wrote to Mary while attending the Susquehanna Collegiate Institute. See letters #10 & 11.

(141) Floretta’s sister Lettia Kendall, b. 12 Mar 1855, d. 13 Feb 1882, m. Wm. Alexander Lane;and their younger brother Wilbur, age 9.

(142) Owen is Floretta’s youngest brother.

(143) Willie Clark, is Orille’s younger brother.

(144) Sarah Jane Kendall, age 16, d/o Elam and Deborah KNAPP Kendall. See letter #42.

(145) Zopher S. Morgan, age 27.

(146) Holister N. Compton, age 33, s/o Hubbard Holister & Almira Compton.

(147) Pvt. Azeriah J. Watkins, Co. D, 50th Pa. Vol. Infantry, age 23, s/o Alex & J.A. Watkins.

(148) Pvt. Albert T. Watkins, Co. E, 141st Pa. Vol. Infantry, age 17, d. 27 Nov 1862 near Falmouth Va.

(149) Pvt. George Powers, Co E, 141st PVI, d. 13 Jan 1863 at Washington,D.C., buried Military Asylum Cemetery.

Transcribers note: the following is a portion of a letter from Sarah Ann BURNS Kendall to her mother Letitia who has been staying with her sister Mary in LeRaysville and now has apparently gone on to visit other Burns family members in Susquehanna County. While it has no portion of a date, it can be ascertained, from its content, to have been written in late February or early March, 1863. The family’s main concern at that time was the lack of any news from their brother Jimmie who was known to have participated in two battles with Sherman’s 15th Army Corps enroute to their historical confrontation with the Confederate soldiers who were entrenched at Vicksburg, Mississippi.


…we have wrote to him and Jane has wrote and Horace has wrote but I am afraid he will not get any of them. I do not know the reason he does not get any letter from us, it may be he will get them yet; it was about a mounth after he wrote to us before we got it; James was in the battle at Arkansas Post.(150) He was at Napolion Citty when he wrote but he told us to direct our letters to: Memphis Tennessee 113 Reg. Ill. Vol.

Mother we would like to hear from you and to know when you are a coming home and how you’re a coming. Mary wrote to Jane that you had gone to beech woods and that was all she wrote about you; she said the snow all went off so they had to come home and did not stay but one night. That was to bad; they could not see them at all. We have had a great deal of snow here this winter but it does not stay on long enough to go a grate ways from home so we shall not go down to Mary’s this winter.(151) Is store goods there as deer as they are here? In Towanda, Powels Store(152) Calico is from 22 to 28 cts a yard and factory cloth from 30 to 40 cts a yard and is still a rising. If you know where Ziba(153) is let me know so I can write to him. Mother give my love to all of my Unkles and Aunts and Cousins out there. Tell them to write to me.

Sarahann K.


(150) From Fort Hindman, at Arkansas Post, Confederates had been disrupting Union shipping on the Mississippi River. Maj. Gen. John McClernand, subsequently undertook a combined force movement on Arkansas Post to capture it. Union boats began landing troops near Arkansas Post in the evening of January 9, 1863. The troops started up river towards Fort Hindman. Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s corps overran Rebel trenches, and the enemy retreated to the protection of the fort and adjacent rifle-pits. Rear Adm. David Porter, on the 10th, moved his fleet towards Fort Hindman and bombarded it, withdrawing at dusk. Union artillery fired on the fort from artillery positions across the river on the 11th, and the infantry moved into position for an attack. Union ironclads commenced shelling the fort and Porter’s fleet passed it to cutoff any retreat. As a result of this envelopment, and the attack by McClernand’s troops, the Confederate command surrendered in the afternoon. Although Union losses were high and the victory did not contribute to the capture of Vicksburg, it did eliminate one more impediment to Union shipping on the Mississippi. And Jimmie Burns lived to fight another day.

(151) Heverly’s Bradford County Chronology describes 1862/63 as a "Winter of much snow and little sleighing".

(152) Collins & Powell Dry Goods.

(153) Cousin Ziba Scott Burns, s/o Henry and Catherine SCOTT Burns of Susquehanna County (see letter #58).


Burlington Apr 28th 1863

Well Aunty I will try again and scribble A few lines to you. We are all well except Aunt Elvira. She is pretty poorly. She is better now than she has been. I have no news of any importance—We have heard from Jimey. He is well but homesick. "I am well as a soldier can expect to be. We are all in camp front of Vicksburg. I expected that we would attacked Vicksburg long before this time, but the blood is not spilt that has got to be spild before this place is taken. We started out of camp the other day on an expedition. We expected that we was going to try to get around back of Vicksburg and make the attack. We went up the river(154) 50 miles. We built a bridge across the slew 1 mile long then went across to a bayou and got into some small boats and went up through the woods and brush 40 miles and then got off on dry land and marched 14 miles down the stream. There we found five gunboats. They had cum down this small stream. The rebs had fell a lot of trees before and behind the boats and completely blockaded them in. The rebels was like to capture them. The day that we marched the 14 miles was on Sunday and they said if we had been one day behind they would been taken. We met the rebels before we got to the boats and had a skirmish with them for three or four hours, through the swamps, over logs, behind trees, but we drove them back. There was four or five of our men wounded and one killed. When we came back it rained very hard. The mud was up to our knees and sometimes over. We had a hard time I tell you before we got back to our camp." He says he would like to come home but don’t expect to untill three years is up. I cant write any more of Jimmeys letter because it wont get maled today.

Philander, Granvil & Byington, Lucy Sara & Jennie talk of going down to your home next Saturday or Sunday. They thought of surprising you, but I thought I would drop you a line. If they don’t come you must not be disappointed. I must close. This is offal poor writing. You know I can write better, but I am in a hurry. Give my love to Granpa and Aunt Polly. Kiss Johny for me. I am much obliged for "love in the tub."(155)

Floretta to Mary


(154) The Yazoo River which joins the Mississippi at Vicksburg.

(155) A song which several of the young girls in the family have been learning.


June the 6 /63

Dear Sister Mary

With a Heavy heart and a Trembling hand I set down this morning to inform you of the sad news that come to our view last night, the death of our Dear Brother James. O Mary, can it be true, can it be posable that it is our Brother, O God for-bid!

Philander received a news paper and a letter from Gerome last night stating that the 113 Reg. Company G, Ill. Vol. -Killed- James Burns & two other names was all in that company, but a great many wounded. O, why must it be Jimmie? We feel in hopes that it may be some mistake, but fear it is to true. James always wrote his name James A Burns. But the A is left out in the news paper. If thare had ben another James Burns in that company Jimmie would of ben apt to wrote it in some of his letters to us.

Mary the last letter that James wrote was to Floretta dated April 22.(156) He said read this it may be the last you ever will hear from Jimmie. O, nust it be that we can never see, nor hear from him a gain in this world?

Probaly we shall have a letter from his Captain stating the particulars. When we do we shall want a funeral. We will write to you and let you know in time to come up.

Mary, I cant write much now. You must excuse me, I can not write, we are all well except Alvira [Elvira] she is under the doctors care. All so Mother Kendall(157) is sick. The children is all had the measels. We have had a letter from aunt Clarica,(158) Emma(159) is not a coming, she is teaching school, in Dundaff.

Good by Mary, we will write a gain soon.

Jane Kendall


(156) Floretta copied Jimmies letter into her own letter to Mary. (see letter #54)

(157) Deborah KNAPP Kendall, b. 22 May 1804, d. 19 July 1891

(158) Clarissa BILL Burns 1812-1884, w/o Thomas Chase Burns, a brother of Mary’s father Orry Burns and Emma’s father Alexander Burns. The Burns family originally settled in southeastern Susquehanna County. Orry alone migrated west to Burlington Township in Bradford County.

(159) Emma, nee Mary Emily Burns, age 22/23, d/o Alexander and Emily READ Burns of Clifford, Susquehanna Co.(see letter #58).


May 28, 1863

Rear of Vicksburg

H. O. Burns,(160) Dear Sir,

It becomes my painful duty to inform you of the fate of your brother and my constant companion since we enlisted. Both in sickness and health have we shared each others troubles and joys and the 8th of May we left our old camp and marched down the river to Grand Gulf,(161) some 60 miles, and then through the country to Jackson(162) and to the battlefield, where I now am, on the morning of the 20th.(163) He received 2 letters, one from his mother and one from you, which was gladly received, and at 10 o’clock our brigade was ordered to charge the rebel breastwork. We started and charged over the first hill, and there I was obliged to bid the boys good bye and to await the appearance of those who should need my aid.

At 8 o’clock in the afternoon the Captain came back with the wounded and informed me of the painful news that Jimmie was no more and that his death was instant and without pain. He was firing by the Captain’s side at the time of his death and the Captain received a slight wound at the same time. You cannot know what a void is in the hearts of us boys. We feel as though we have lost a brother. Still, we feel that James is now in a happier and sunnier land where war and sorrow are not known and his last words to me, on the morning of the battle was, "Doc, if I never come out of the fight write to my folks and tell them that I have a hope beyond this earth and that I shall look for them all to meet me in a better clime than this and where a dear father has gone before me."

You have our warmest sympathies in this your great bereavement. I hope that comfort will come to your hearts in the thoughts that, though lost to earth, he is safe in the bright mansion above where the weary are cared for and enjoy the light of God. Excuse the brief letter and remember me as a friend and sympathizer and willing to give all further information required.

Dr. H.(164) B. Osborn

To: Mr. H. O. Burns


(160) Horace Orry Burns, Jimmie’s oldest brother and head of the Burns family since their father Orry died 29 Sep 1861.

(161) Twenty miles south of Vicksburg near the confluence of the Big Black and Mississippi Rivers.

(162) On May 14, Confederate forces ordered the evacuation of Jackson knowing that the superior Union Army approaching from the south would probably overwhelm the town. A relatively small contingent of 6,000 rebels remained to defend the town until the evacuation was completed. Union forces attacked in numbers and slowly but surely pushed the enemy back. the Yankees entered Jackson and had a celebration, hosted by Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant who had been travelling with Sherman’s corps, in the Bowman House. They then burned part of the town and cut the railroad connections with Vicksburg. The fall of the former Mississippi state capital was a blow to Confederate morale. The celebration was cut short and Grant’s ebullient forces marched on to Vicksburg, arriving on the night of May 18 before the highly touted "works of Vicksburg."

(163) There were two major Union assaults preceding the siege, the first on the 19th of May did not include Jimmie’s unit, the 113th Illinois Infantry. While union forces did reach the enemy’s entrenchments, rebel forces were strongly reinforced in their front making it impossible to effect a lodgement in their breastworks. However they held their positions with tenacity until nightfall, then withdrew. The 20th and 21st of May were employed in skirmishing with the enemy, reconnoitering the ground and improving the Union troop’s positions. Individual brigades were utilized in these operations. It was during these maneuvers that Jimmie "gave his last full measure of devotion". The second assault on May 22 was equally ineffective in dislodging the entrapped Confederate Army and the Seige of Vicksburg had begun. Forty-three days later, on July 4, 1863 Vicksburg surrendered after prolonged seige operations. This was the culmination of one of the most brilliant military campaigns of the war. With the resulting loss of the South’s vital stronghold on the Mississippi, the Confederacy was effectively cut in half.

(164) Harris B. Osborn was from Geneva County, Illinois.


June 11th [1863]

Dear Aunt Mary

I will take my pen in hand to let you know that we are all well at present. I staid here with Granma last night. She was going to you but Granma Campbell(165) came up here this morning & so she told me to write to you and let you know when Jimmies funeral is.(166) It is a week from next Sunday, the 21 at 11 O Clock. We got a letter from his Docter. I will write the letter over on the other side of this sheet.

Now I will write some of the news around here. Mr. Wright(167) has come home on a 30 day furlow. He was wounded in his leg just above his knee & Emily has got A young soldier, his name is Webster L. Wright. Delinda Smith is married to Bill Barber. Bill Compton(168) & Susan Fuller is married. Justin Morely(169) found a Dead baby in a basket on his stoop. There was a line in the basket. It said keep this two or three days for the brute is bound to kill it.

I will have to close so good by.

To Aunt Mary/ D.O. Kendall


(165) Eleanor MILLER Campbell, b. 1788, d. 29 Jan 1875, widow of Cephas Campbell.

(166) Vicksburg National Cemetery was established by an act of Congress in 1866. It has the distinction of having the largest number of Civil War interments of any national cemetery in the United States. Of the approximately 17,000 Union veterans buried there, only 5,000 are known. The soldiers that succumbed as a result of the Civil War were typically buried close to where they died. If the name of the soldier was known, their grave was marked with whatever materials were on hand. The most comon method was etching the name on a board. After the establishment of the Vicksburg National Cemetery extensive efforts were made to locate the remains of the Union Soldiers throughout the Southeast and move them to Vicksburg for reinterment. By the time this occurred many of the wooden markers had faded or were lost to the elements making identification impossible. In Jimmie’s case the problem is exacerbated by the fact that he enlisted in Illinois and therefore Bradford County, PA has no record of him even being in the Army. Illinois service records list him but his place of origin was left blank. It is for this reason that James A. Burns can be called the man without a county, which explains why I have attempted to highlight his military service through this medium.

(167) Sgt. William S. Wright, Co. E. 141st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia May 1-4, 1863.

(168) William H. Compton, age 26, s/o Hubbard H. and Almira. The Comptons lived a few miles up Kendall Hill Road just below the Smithfield Township Line.

(169) Justin Morely lived near the corner of the present-day junction of Slater Road and Covered Bridge Road. Even in 1863 it was more populous and well traveled than surrounding rural areas. This incident was not mentioned again in the remaining twenty-nine letters of this collection. It is unknown whether or not the identities of this baby or its parents were ever discovered and it would be fruitless and inappropriate to speculate on the matter. But surely, even in this time when death by a variety of causes was much more commonplace than it is today, this was indeed a shockingly tragic event.

Transcribers Note: The following letter, written by Mary’s cousin Emma Burns of Dundaff, Clifford Township, Susquehanna County, was actually copied by her niece Floretta Kendall.


I will write Emma’s letter on this piece of paper.

July 23 [1863]

My Dear Aunt [Letitia CAMPBELL Burns]

Nearly all our communications are sad ones and this will be but another to prove it. I think no one has written you of Aunt Caty’s(170) death so I take the sad task upon myself. She died of the appoplexy(171) Tuesday 21st at 6 oclock & 25 minutes A.M. at her sons home at the city where Jonathan moved this spring. About a month previous to her death, her daughter Lucy came from York state to spend the remainder of summer with her mother and relatives, anticipating all the pleasure of a long visit with her friends, but all her anticipations were destined to be suddenly changed to the deepest sorrow and mourning. Her funeral sermon was preached yesterday by Eld Pitcher from Psalms 145.17.(172) The children were all there excepting Ziba.(173) He was in the Pa battels(174) and has not been heard of since. They feel very anxious about him. Aunt Caty was taken sick the Wednesday preceding her death with a trembling sensation all over her body. In a short time she was unable to help herself and was confined to her bed, sleeping nearly all the time, it being almost impossible to wake her. When interrogated how she felt in regard to death she replied "I am in the hands of a just God." From a day before her death she was seeming unconscious of everything. It seems so strange and pleasant too that she should come back to die among her friends. Uncle Harry(175) is not feeling well. We have heard of cousin James death. Dear aunt I had hoped to see him again, but no. He has fallen a sacrifice to his country, a patriot and hero. May he rest from the strife and tumult of war and awake to an eternal peace in heaven. God grant us strength to endure affliction.

I wrote you last spring that I should visit you. Soon after I had the offer of this school in Dundaff where I am now engaged in teaching. I have 50 scholars. I felt somewhat disappointed in visiting you but I shall try again this fall. Mothers(176) health is not good. The seasons here has been very backward. People are just commencing haying. We have had two severe floods.(177) The last one did great damage, injuring crops, carrying off bridges and washing off roads at a fearful rate. Aunt Harriet(178) doesn’t recover her health yet. I would like to write more but it is nearly school time, so good morning dear aunt, write soon.

Emma Burns(179)

My love to all the cousins.


(170) Catherine SCOTT Burns, d. 21 Jul 1863, w/o Henry "Harry" Burns

(171) A sudden loss of sensation and movement due to a disturbance of blood supply to the brain; a stroke.

(172) "The Lord is just in all His ways and kind in all his doings." RSV

(173) Ziba Scott Burns was killed 1 Jul 1863. Per Leon Lane’s Notebook II, a letter written to tell of Ziba’s death said "He was shot through the head so he did not suffer as so many did".

(174) The common name for the Battle of Gettysburg among northern Pennsylvania people, most of whom had never heard of that tiny village in the southern part of their state.

(175) Caty’s husband whose actual name was Henry Burns, 1796, d. 1873.

(176) Emily READ Burns, b. 28 Feb 1807, d. 1875, m. 19 May 1831, widow of Alexander Burns, b. 28 Feb 1807, d. 3 Oct 1862.

(177) Apparently there was widespread flooding throughout the region. From the weekly newspaper, "Bradford Reporter", Towanda. Thursday July 30, 1863: "A violent thunderstorm occurred on Friday night last in this vicinity, causing much destruction. For two hours the rain poured down in a deluge, flooding streets and making torrents of the small streams. The Russell’s establishment was filled with water, doing them considerable damage. Bartlett’s Foundry was flooded, causing great inconvenience and loss, while many of the houses adjacent received a liberal deposit of gravel and mud. In the north part of the town, Murray’s house was undermined and fell over with a crash, nearly or quite destroying the building. The basement with its contents was entirely cleaned out. Their loss is heavy." (see also letter #59)

(178) Harriet CLAWSON Burns. w/o Ellery Burns. Their son was the "Cousin Ira" mentioned in letter #8. It was not Ira Campbell of Liberty Township, Tioga County as previously stated in footnote #(4) of Part I.

(179) Emma never married and was a school teacher her entire working life. She taught first in Dundaff and later in New York State at the Geneseo Normal School in Livingston County, where she earned a state teacher’s pension for her 37 years of devoted service.


[August 1863]

Sister Mary

I do not know as I can add anything that will interest you, But however I will write a word or two. I have just come over to mothers. Floretta and Deborah has just finished writing to you. I thought I would weary your Patience a Little longer. All though I do not feel in writing mood for I have work very hard this week. It is a huring [hurrying] time for men folks it has Ben a cathing [catching up] time for getting in crops. Our wheat groad some befour it come off good weather. We have had a tremendous flood here.(180) it took off all the little Bridges made quit a distraction in our july. Lawrence says it was fifty dollars damage to him. It came very near taking off Horace Hurmans house. he had an ox drown, found him in a week after the flood in Charles Knapp flats.(181) Hen Hill(182) foulks had to leave their House. They lost a wagon & garden was entirely Spoilt. Uncle Josephus(183) claims Five Hundred dollars damage. Aunt Seaneath(184) has made a visit out west [Illinois] found them all well except Uncle Owen,(185) they don’t expect him to live long. Uncle Owen sent mother a new dress called mohere` Poplin. Mary I would finish this page but Floretta & Deborah is waiting for me to close. Mother(186) says she cant wait any longer she wants to hear from you. I hop she wont be so lone some when Lucy(186) comes home. Uncle Jacke(187) says maybe she will partly fill the place of her [Letitia’s] daughter Mary So good knight Mary Gorham.

Jane Kendall Write and oblige


(180) See Letter #58 regarding damage from the same series of thunderstorms in Susquehanna County.

(181) Over a half mile to the west of Kendall Hill
(182) On Slater road west of Kendall Hill. At several hundred feet of elevation from Sugar Creek, but adjacent to Wallace run, a tributary.

(183) Josephus Campbell lived on the main road west of Luther’s Mills, ¾ mile from Sugar Creek where the terrain is relatively flat.

(184) Asenath MILLER Campbell w/o Josephus had several brothers living in Illinois besides Owen.

(185) Uncle Anning Owen Campbell b. 23 Jul 1807.

(186) Their mother, Letitia had been living with Mary And James in Leraysville since autumn of 1862 and had only recently returned to her home on Kendall Hill in Burlington Township.

(187) Lucy E. MORELY Burns, w/o Mary’s brother Horace.

(188) Jacob Morely, Lucy’s father.