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View Tree for Charles BurkhamCharles Burkham (b. Abt. 1780, d. 1837)

Charles Burkham (son of Charles Burkham) was born Abt. 1780 in Virginia, and died 1837 in Red River County, Texas. He married Nancy Ann Abbet on September 30, 1804 in Madison County, KY.

 Includes NotesNotes for Charles Burkham:
From "Red River Recollections", written by Eunice Wheat Futrell, and submitted by Jo Ann Tate Null:

Charles and Nancy Ann (Abbet) Burkham

Virginian Charles Burkham, his Indiana-born wife, Nancy Ann Abbet, and at least three of thier young children, James, Susannah, and Cynthianna, arrived in the Red River Valley on July 4, 1816, according to the Wavel Registor of 1830. By March, 1820, and perhaps sooner, the family had crossed the river to permanently locate in the Burkham Settlement at the mouth of Mill Creek, which became a haven of protection, substance, and camaraderie for such men as Henry Stout, David Crockett, the Hopkins family, Nathaniel Robbins, and others entering Texas from Missouri Territory, later Arkansas Territory.

A Charles Burkham received land grants along Simpson's Creek near the Pennsylvania border in Virginia as early as 1774; gave civil service to the Army of the Potomac in 1776 from his lands in Monongalia County; appears on the 1790 census of this area; and is mentioned in a family diary upon his death in December 1810, in Washington County, KY. That same year the Charles who came to Texas appears with his young family on the Clay Co. KY census.

Charles and Nancy Ann married on September 30, 1804, in Madison County, KY. Family legend has it that Charles served in the War of 1812, and since daughter Susannah lists her birthplace as Indiana, the possibility does exist that Nancy Ann and the children stayed with her parents until Charles returned from the war. Charles may have heard about the rich Red River Valley during his military service and soon after his return the trip was planned and made, a caravan of family and friends to a beautiful and wild land.

Descendants of Susannah have recorded events which took place on the way to Texas and those events taking place in the first few years after their arrival. Many of the Old Miller county records burned, but those preserved in the Barker library at the University of Texas give numerous references to the active part that Charles Burkham and his eldest son, James.

The Burkham Settlement was located near a Shawnee Village. Many tribes traversed the bountiful land, including Caddo, Kiowa, Choctaw, Cherokee, Delaware, Pawnee, and Comanche. In 1826, about fourteen men traveled west, hunting and trading with the Indians. Among the names known to have ventured this risky expedition were Charles Burkham, Eli Hopkins, Henry Stout, James Clark, Charles Humphreys, a Ford, a Tyler, and a Wallace. The Indians demanded that Charles Humphreys be turned over to them for "depredations" against the tribe, saying that they could identify him as the man missing a front tooth. Refusing to turn Humphreys over to the Indians, the brave group was able to escape. Another close encounter took place the following year when Burkham led a party of neighbors to find the Indians who had killed a man named Murphy near the Burkham Settlement. When they finally met with the Indians, Burkham had only eleven boys and two men to fight about five hundred warriors. After the encounter, the group quietly slipped home, traveling three days without food for fear that the Indians would find them if they shot game.

By the summer of 1827, Charles Burkham, Nathaniel Robbins, and newcomer Dr. Lewis B. Dayton, had permission to form an army funded by Mexico to march on the Comanche and Pawnee who were causing deaths, hardships, and inconvenience to the settlers living south of the Red River. Burkham had been given a captaincy in the Mexican Army to gather at least two thousand men. On June 12, 1827, Burkham addressed the inhabitants of Lost Prairie, twenty miles east of Pecan Point near Spanish Bluffs.

"I have the pleasure to inform you that I have completed my business with the Mexican Government to go against any hostile Indians in the Government (Mexico)... Any man or men wishing to engage in the service will be thankfully received at any place above the Spanish Bluffs on the south side of the Red River, as it is unknown where the boundary line between the two governments will fall, and I do not wish to get in any difficulty whatsoever."

Many of his neighbors felt Burkham and the others were too hasty in this alliance and too trusting in the Mexican promises. Those not aligned with Burkham continued to wait for word from Washington on boundary lines or hope for help from the United States soldiers at Fort Towson, north of the Red River. The army to fight the Comanche and Pawnee never gathered.

Land, of course, was foremost in the minds of these settlers. Burkham purchased land from Juan Garza in Nacogdoches in 1834. He sold this land to Collin McRae, who later sold half of it to John H. Dyer. Burkham went with Ben Milam to the Mexican officials in an attempt to clarify land titles for the settlers of Old Miller County. Milam had improved about six acres of land in the Burkham Settlement before going south to join the Texas Revolution.

Burkham and his son, James, signed a petition dated October 18, 1830, requesting a "good and passable road" for settlers east of Jonesborough in the Sevier Township. Others signing the petition were Samuel Burnam, N.G. Crittenden, J. H. Little, James Rodes, William H. Hopkins, Thomas J. Hopkins, James Clark, J. E. Hopkins, Eldridge Hopkins, Francis Hopkins, and R. M. Hopkins. Charles Burkham served as sheriff of Old Miller County about this same time. He was also appointed a commissioner by Thomas P. Eckridge, Judge of the Superior Court of Miller County to locate a permanent Seat of Justice for the county on October 23, 1832. Several meetings or terms of the court had been held in the Burkham cabin. Others on the commission were Travis G. Wright, William Collum, and Samuel Worthington. Of course, they decided on Jonesborough, near the future Clarksville, Texas.

Of the Burkham children born before the family came to Texas, James Burkham married Matilda ____, a Tennessee girl, in 1830. They had five children born in Red River County; Elliott, about 1832; Charles Barnett, July 28, 1833 (great-grandfather of the author); William, about 1838; Thursay Ann or "Teresa", about 1841; and Thomas Jefferson, about 1844. Susannah first married James Barker, who died in 1833. Later she became the wife of Hudson Posey Benningfield. In her first marriage she had two young daughters, Lucinda and Polly Ann. By Benningfield she had Robert, Benjamin, James, Rebecca, Rita, Nancy, and Belle. Cynthianna had four known children by her marriage to Thomas Holloway. They were Marion, Elmira, Elizabeth, and Elzy.

At least three children were born to Charles and Nancy Ann after their arrival in Texas: Phillip, who died before 1830; Ahijah, born about 1819; and Benjamin Franklin, born about 1825. Ahijah married Louisa Jane Birdwell. Their son, Charles E. Burkham, was named for his grandfather. Their daughters were Elvira and Mary. Benjamin Franklin Burkham and his family appear on the 1850 census of Hopkins County.

In 1836, Charles and his young son, Ahijah, joined Captain Thomas Robbin's Company of mounted riflemen from Red River County to fight for Texas Independence. James was with William Becknell's Company; Becknell had lived for a time at the Burkham Settlement. Nancy, Susannah, Matilda, and young Benjamin Franklin, kept the homefires burning during the absence of their loved ones. They rejoiced when the men returned to announce the defeat of the Mexicans. A clear title to the land would soon be theirs!

In the winter of 1837, however, a tragedy occurred which changed the destiny of the Burkham family. Charles and another man, perhaps Levi Davis, went after a runaway slave. They stopped at the Page house to make inquiries. There, they were murdered. Page thought the chains and hand irons in the saddlebags were gold. Some days later, Page's son-in-law was found riding Burkham's mule. He told what had happened. The neighbors rode to Page's house, captured him, and took him to Clarksville where he was hanged from the limb of a blackjack oak. Some say that the tree is still standing in the Clarksville Cemetery.

In February, 1838, family friends, James E. Hopkins and James S. Ward, took an oath before the Board of Land Commissioners for Red River County, consisting of James Latimer, M. W. Matthews, and David Lane, that the late Charles Burkham was entitled to land from the Republic of Texas, having lived in the area continuously since March, 1820. Early maps of Red River and Bowie Counties show several other grants of land to the Burkham family.

James was kept very busy following his father's murder. As administrator of the estate and guardian for a time of his minor brothers, he was ordered by the court to have a sale of belongings and land to settle debts. James E. Hopkins was appointed guardian over Ahijah and Benjamin Franklin for a time in 1842. Jonathan Bateman and John Tisdell were appointed appraisers of the estate. James bought back much of his father's equipment, cattle, sheep, hogs, mules, horses, wagons, some household belongings, slaves, and land.

In 1845 another tragedy came. Nancy Ann suffered a stroke. Family legend says that following her husband's death, she took a trusted slave and buried the gold which they had brought to the new land. On her deathbed she struggled to tell the children where the gold was buried, but could not. The trusted slave disappeared. Soon after his mother's death, James moved his family near present day Sulphur Bluff, in soon-to-be-formed Hopkins County. Ahijah and Susannah stayed in Red River County for a few more years.

For his military service, Texas Governor George T. Wood gave the heirs of Charles Burkham clear title to land nine miles northwest of DeKalb, February 28, 1848, in Bowie and Red River Counties. A few days later the heirs received a league and labour of land six miles from DeKalb in Bowie County. After this time, Ahijah, Benjamin Franklin, and Hudson Posey Benningfield, marched to San Antonio to serve in the Mexican War. In 1854 Ahijah died, leaving Louisa Jane and three children. Louisa Jane then married William Ash, who had been in the Mexican War with Ahijah. James gave his headright in Red River County to Louisa Jane and her children.

Four grandsons born in Red River County, sons of James and Matilda Burkham, and Charles Burkham's youngest son, Benjamin Franklin Burkham, served in Company F, 23rd Confederate Cavalry on duty in Texas. They were: Eliott, Charles Barnett, William and Thomas Jefferson.

Many of the descendants of Charles and Nancy Ann Burkham are still living in the Northeast and East Texas area. The name "Charles" has been passed through the family many times. (The author, Eunice Wheat Futrell writes:) I am proud of my heritage,and proud of the pioneer spirit of these ancestors. My daughter, Mary Katharine Futrell, and I have joined the Daughters of the Republic of Texas this year to show our appreciation of this rich heritage. My two sons, James David Futrell and John Wheat Futrell, share in this appreciation. I am indebted to my mother, Dessie Burkham Wheat, and her brothers, Woodrow Boss Burkham and Albert C. Burkham, and her sisters in New Mexico and Texas, children of Samuel Marvin Burkham and his wife, Fearl Ester MCullough; to my brother, Walter Wheat of Big Spring, Texas, and my sister, Wanda Sue Wheat Hicks of Dallas; to Zadie Harper (Mrs. Leslie) of Sulpher Bluff, daughter of Fannie Burkham Burkhead Murphree; to Grace Burkham Whitney of Leesburg, Texas, and John Burkham of Marshall, Texas, son and daughter of Kimp B. Burkham and his first wife, Vinnie Newkirk; to Mary Helen Stubbs of Sulphur Springs, great-granddaughter of James E. Burkham and his wife, Mary Isabell "Belle" Jarvis; and Durl Burkham of Carmichael, Ca., son of Jeff Burkham and his wife, Clara Winters; and to my wonderful great-aunt Ora Burkham Buchanan of New Boston, daughter of Charles Barnett Burkham; and to so many, many others who have joined in the hours of research and discussion on our family. Also, I thank Skipper Steely for his book, "Six Months from Tennessee," which gathered information on Charles Burkham so early in Texas, and stimulated interest and research from descendants around the country.

Bibliography: Archives, General Land Office of Texas; Archives, State of Texas, Austin, Texas; Brown, "Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas"; Steely, "Six Months from Tennessee"; Strickland, "Chronicles of Oklahoma"; "George Travis Wright Papers," Barker Archives, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.


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From the "New Handbook of Texas, Vol. I", Lytle Library, written by Christopher Long, submitted by Jo Ann Tate Null:

Burkham, Charles (? - 1837). Charles Burkham, pioneer Red River County settler, was born in Virginia before 1790. By 1804 he was living in Madison County, Kentucky, where he married Indiana native Nancy Ann Abbet on September 30. The couple had at least six children, including James Burkham. According to family legend, Burkham served in the War of 1812, though no record of his service has been found. In 1816 he moved with his wife, three oldest children, and several other families to Arkansas Territory, where he settled in the Red River Valley. In March 1820, the group crossed the river and founded a permanent settlement, known later as Burkham Settlement, on the mouth of Mill Creek near the present border of Red River and Bowie counties. Burkham was particularly interested in gaining title to his land and over the course of the next decade and a half negotiated with authorities in Miller County, Arkansas, and Mexico seeking clear title. In 1836 he and his son Ahijah joined Captain Thomas Robbin's company of mounted riflemen. Burkham was murdered by a man named Page in the winter of 1837, while hunting for a runaway slave. Page thought the chains and hand irons in Burkham's saddlebag were gold.

Bibliography: Pat B. Clark, "The History of Clarksville and Old Red River County" (Dallas: Mathis, Van Nort, 1937). Claude V. Hall, "Early Days in Red River County," East Texas State Teachers College Bulletin 14 (June 1931). "Red River Recollections" (Clarksville, Texas: Red River County Historical Society, 1986). Rex. W. Strickland, Anglo-American Activities in Northeastern Texas, 1803-1845 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1937). George Travis Wright Family Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

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About James Burkham, mentioned here:

"Burkham, James (1805-1880). James Burkham, pioneer settler, was born in Clay County, Kentucky, in the late summer of 1805, the son of Charles and Nancy Ann (Abbet) Burkham. ... In March 1820, the group crossed the river and founded a permanent settlement, known later as Burkham Settlement, on the mouth of Mill Creek near the present border of Red River and Bowie counties. During the Texas Revolution Burkham joined Captain William Becknell's company, which set out to join Sam Houston's main army but arrived the day after the battle of San Jacinto. Burkham served again briefly in the militia in 1841 and in recognition of his service was awarded a first class land grant in Red River County near Avery, a bounty warrant of 320 acres in Lamar County, and a plot of land now in Hopkins County. After his mother died in 1845, he moved to Hopkins County and settled near Sulphur Bluff. Burkham was a Mason; in Hopkins County he became a member of the newly organized Old Tarrant Lodge No. 91. Around 1853 he is said to have sold his slaves to James L. Latimer. Burkham and his wife, Mathilda, whom he married in 1830, had five children. He died at the family homestead near Sulpher Bluff on June 4, 1880."

Bibliography: Pat B. Clark, "The History of Clarksville and Old Red River County" (Dallas: Mathis, Van Nort, 1937). Claude V. Hall, "Early Days in Red River County," East Texas State Teachers College Bulletin 14 (June 1931). "Red River Recollections" (Clarksville, Texas: Red River County Historical Society, 1986). Rex. W. Strickland, Anglo-American Activities in Northeastern Texas, 1803-1845 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1937). George Travis Wright Family Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

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About the Burkham Settlement mentioned earlier:

Burkham Settlement, Texas. Burkham Settlement was among the earliest Anglo-American settlements in Texas. It was founded by Charles Burkham, his wife, Ann (Abbet), their children, and several other families. According to the 1830 register of the Wavel Red River colony (see Wavell, Arthur Goodall), the Burkham group reached the Red River valley on July 4, 1816. By March 1820 they crossed the Red River to locate permanently at the mouth of Mill Creek, near what became the border of Red River and Bowie Counties and a short distance from the Pecan Point settlement. Also among the early settlers were Hudson Posey Benningfield, Henry B. Stout, and Isaac Bateman. The settlement served as a foothold for Anglo-American colonization in the region and paved the way for large-scale settlement of Northeast Texas during the 1820's and 1830's. The area was a stopping point for others entering Texas, including David Crockett, Nathaniel Robbins, and Francis M. Hopkins. As late as the 1930's descendents of the original settlers still lived in the area."

Bibliography: Pat B. Clark, "The History of Clarksville and Old Red River County" (Dallas: Mathis, Van Nort, 1937). Claude V. Hall, "Early Days in Red River County," East Texas State Teachers College Bulletin 14 (June 1931). Blewett Barnes Kerbow, The Early History of Red River County, 1817-1865 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1936). "Red River Recollections" (Clarksville, Texas: Red River County Historical Society, 1986). Rex. W. Strickland, Anglo-American Activities in Northeastern Texas, 1803-1845 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1937). George Travis Wright Family Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.




More About Charles Burkham:
Military service 1: 1847, War for Texas Independence, served under Captain Thomas Robbin's Company of mounted riflemen from Red River County.
Military service 2: 1836, War for Texas Independence, served under Captain Thomas Robbin's Company of mounted riflemen from Red River County.

More About Charles Burkham and Nancy Ann Abbet:
Marriage: September 30, 1804, Madison County, KY.

Children of Charles Burkham and Nancy Ann Abbet are:
  1. +James Burkham, b. 1805, Clay County, KY, d. June 04, 1880, Sulpher Bluff, TX.
  2. +Susannah Burkham, b. February 19, 1812, Indiana, d. February 27, 1880, Atascosa County, TX.
  3. +Ahijah Burkham, b. Abt. 1819, d. date unknown.
  4. Phillip Burkham, b. Bet. 1820 - 1830, d. Bef. 1830.
  5. Benjamin Franklin Burkham, b. 1825, d. date unknown.
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