The Burch Family of Amherst County VA

Since I had been focusing on the Phillips family lately, I decided to research more into the related Burch Family lineage.  Nancy Jane Burch was married to Oscar F Phillips ad they were my second great-grandparents.  Nancy was the daughter of Stephen A Burch and Elizabeth McDaniel, my third greats!  Researching this Burch family was a challenge and I still am left with questions!  You can read more about the Phillips family here: A Family of Phillips! 

Stephen Burch was born about 1786 in Fauquier County, Virginia and was the son of Leonard Burch and Monokey Guy Webster – yes, her name was “Monokey” according to many of the records.  Her mother’s maiden name was Mary Guy so that is where the “Guy” came in.   Stephen’s father, Leonard, was listed in the Fauquier County tax list in 1788 as was Leonard’s father, John Burch Sr and two of Leonard’s brothers named John Burch Jr and Francis Burch.   More on them will be coming in another post.  After about 1796, Leonard Burch moved his family, including 10 year old Stephen, to Amherst County, Virginia.  By 1801, all the Burch brothers lived in Amherst County.  It was quite a long move as shown by the two maps of the counties!

Fauquier Co VA 001      Amherst Co VA 001

I found that Stephen had at least two sisters named Ann and Nancy and one brother named Simeon.  Ann died about age 4.  Stephen and his brother Simeon were sometimes confused with each other in some family histories but Simeon was born in 1790, 4 years after Stephen.  Solving the mystery of the name of Stephen’s wife was another challenge as some records stated that her name was Elizabeth Miller and not McDaniel.   Census records just listed her as “Betsey Burch” with Betsey being a common nickname for Elizabeth.

There is a marriage record for Stephen Burch and Eliza Miller in 1813 in Amherst VA but this is probably not our Stephen Burch.   Evidence that Elizabeth’s birth name was McDaniel comes from several sources including the death certificate of their son, James Marshall Burch, which names his parents as Stephen Burch and Elizabeth McDaniel.  In the Virginia, Deaths and Burial Index, the death record for Stephen listed him as married to “Elizabeth McDaniel.”  Finally, John McDaniel and Margaret Rucker McDaniel, likely Elizabeth’s parents, were neighbors of the Burch family according to the 1850 Agricultural Census so it is likely that Stephen knew Elizabeth as a neighbor and married her.

Stephen and Betsey Burch had about 15 children that they raised in Amherst County, Virginia.  I was able to find information on most of them.  One son died at age 22 years of typhoid fever and another son died at age 20 of brain fever.  One daughter, Soluda, was classified on the 1850 Census as an “idiot” as she must have had some type of mental disability.  I found out that census enumerators used the term “idiot” for “a person the development of whose mental faculties were arrested in infancy or childhood before coming to maturity.”  For us, in a more enlightened age, a number of known disabilities would have fallen in this category, including Down’s Syndrome.  Soluda was born in 1830, never married, and lived to 1890.  It is not known where she lived after her parents died.

There are census records for Stephen Burch from 1820 to 1840, but the most information about the family comes from the later census of 1850.  In 1850 the entire family was living in the household of a man named Madison Davis, age 40, who was a dentist and owned a large farm.   It appears that Stephen and his sons worked the farm for Davis.  Madison may have been related somehow to the Burch family.  Also the Agricultural Census of 1850 listed Stephan as also owning a small farm of  his own but he was less well off that most of his 40 some neighbors as the farm was only worth about $200 and about $7 worth of farm implements.  He also owned one horse, one milk cow, and nine swine and his farm produce 10 bushels of wheat and 200 bushels of Indian corn.  He owned no slaves.

Ten years later, in 1860, things did not improve much and 74 year old Stephen was still a farmer but owned no real estate and must have rented a farm and his personal estate was only $150 value.   Worse yet, his wife, Betsey Burch, died in 1860 of unknown causes.  He now had one horse, two milk cows, three other cattle, two swine for a total livestock value of $100.  He also produced 35 bushels of wheat, 125 bushels of Indian corn, 25 bushels of oats, and 350 pounds of tobacco.  The next year brought more woes to the widower Stephen as the Civil War began and his sons and sons-in-laws were of age to join the fight.

Three of Stephen’s sons enlisted the same day, 29 June 1861, in Company G of the Virginia 51st Infantry Regiment to fight for the Confederacy.  Most likely the three brothers, James Marshall Burch, Fielding Burch and Milton Burch wanted to stay together.   Their brother-in-law, George Washington Moon, who married Caroline Burch, also joined the 51st.   Their sister Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzie) Burch had married Benjamin S Phillips (who was the son of my 2nd great-grandfather, Capt. Benjamin Phillips)  and Ben enlisted in Co. H of the Virginia Artillery.  Benjamin either died in battle or as a result of war injuries, disease or other causes, shortly after 1861 leaving Lizzie a widow.

James Marshall was engaged in 25 engagements and wounded five times and Fielding lost the use of his left hand.   Milton was discharged in January 1865 after being disabled.  The 51st Virginia saw duty in the Virginia Peninsula Campaign, Virginia Valley Campaign, Richmond, Petersburg, eastern Tennessee, and the Battle of Manassas.  From what I found, “on March 2, 1865, the battered, depleted and severely outnumbered 51st Virginia and the rest of Wharton’s division was overwhelmed by Sheridan’s Federal Cavalry under Gen. George Custer at Waynesboro, VA.  The majority of the regiment was captured and sent to Fort Delaware or Elmira NY as prisoners (until the war was over).”

The Burch family was truly involved in the Civil War and the War certainly changed the lives of all of them!  After the war, Stephen Burch was missed in the 1870 Census although he was still living.  He died 10 Dec 1875 in Pedlar and Elon, Amherst County, VA at age 89.  According to Find A Grave, the body of Stephen has been lost or destroyed and believed to be buried at the Clarence Davis Cemetery on the Davis Farm.  This must be the farm that Stephen managed for Madison Davis in 1850.  It is very possible that Betsey McDaniel Burch may be buried in the same cemetery.  Find A Grave information:

Capture.PNG clarence Davis cemetery

In the next post, I hope to write more on the Burch family including the children of Stephen and Betsey.   There are some very interesting stories to be told!

Sources: 

  • Huffman, Jon E. The John and Nancy (Burch) Nichols Family, published online, 2008; Pages: 1-7.
  • Year 1850; Census Place: Eastern, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M432_933; Page: 89B; Image: 180.
  • Census Year: 1850; Census Place: Eastern District, Amherst, Virginia; Archive Collection Number: T1132; Roll: 1; Page: 176; Line: 18; Schedule Type: Agriculture.
  • Year: 1860; Census Place: Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M653_1332; Page: 252; FHL film: 805332.
  • Census Year: 1860; Census Place: Amherst, Virginia; Archive Collection Number: T1132; Roll: 5; Page: 9; Line: 10; Schedule Type: Agriculture.
  • The Family of James Marshall Burch of Lynchburg, VA: Information About James Marshall Burch;  Ancestry.com User Trees.
  • Historical Data Systems comp. U. S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.
  • Find A Grave, findagrave.com; citing George Washington Moon; Memorial 88518360.
  • NARA M324.  Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers from Virginia Units, 1861.
  • Virginia, Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2011;  Also: FHL film 2,056,972.
  • Virginia Marriages 1785-1940, database, FamilySearch.

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