The website www.findagrave.com contains burial information on over 49 million individuals (as of August 2010).It is supported by the voluntary contributions of thousands of researchers throughout the U.S. (and beyond) who electronically submit gravesite data and photos.Inasmuch, one might assume that their website is geographically unbiased, or in other words, given the widespread support and electronic submissions, one might assume that all areas of the country are evenly represented.(In fairness, I should note that individual researchers might submit large numbers of entries, and therefore bias this randomness a bit.)
Given this assumption of randomness, one might then assume that the by-state distribution of a given surname at Findagrave might approximate the migration patterns of that family, and also approximate the relative sizes of various lines of that name.The lack of bias doesn't mean that the families will not be geographically clustered; it means only that Findagrave should approximate their actual size and distribution.
With these assumptions in place, I embarked upon a project a few weeks back to estimate the percentage of Burnleys who descend from my wife's immigrant ancestor, John Burnley of New Kent Co., Va., and to determine where these Burnleys were located.The results were rather fascinating.
To begin, I should note that as of August 2010, Findagrave lists 432 Burnleys' gravesites (including both surnames and married surnames).Of these, due to my research interest, I eliminated the records of 26 foreign burials (about 6% of the total records), and also those of 43 African Americans (about 10% of the total records).This left 363 Caucasian Burnleys who were buried in the U.S. as the basis of my study.
From these 363 burials, I determined that:(a) 65% (or 236) can be linked to John Burnley of New Kent Co., Va., through one of his three sons - Hardin, Israel, or James.(The connection of John to Hardin, Israel, and James was established by Emma Dicken in her book, "Our Burnley Ancestors".John was born in England.);(b) 20% (or 73) can be linked to about 16 other Burnley immigrants, most of whom came to the U.S. in the 19th century, and all but one who came from England; and (c) the remaining 15% (or 54) I was unable to map.These three groups will be referred to below as A, B, and C, respectively.
From these data, one might conclude that John Burnley of New Kent is the ancestor of about two-thirds of the Caucasian Burnleys who have lived in America.In other words, the "A" line is by far, the largest.Furthermore, it also seems clear there is no dominant second line, but rather, a number of smaller "B" lines that together account for no more than a third of the total Burnley population.
The results at the state level were even more interesting.In the discussion that follows, I use the syntax of"(A-B-C)" to represent the counts from the categories above.For example, listing a given state as "(11-1-3)" means that in that state, 11 of the grave inhabitants descend from John, 1 descends from another immigrant, and 3 are unknown.
At Findagrave, there are seven states with 20 or more Burnley gravesites each.These states are clearly the primary historical residences of Burnleys in America, and in fact, account for 68% of the Burnleys in this study.
Five of these seven states, i.e., Mississippi (50-0-0), Georgia (33-0-1), Tennessee (29-0-3), Missouri (27-0-8), and Kentucky (22-0-3), appear to be dominated by members of the "A" line.In other words, if you descend for a Burnley who lived in one of these states, then you are most likely a descendant of John.
The other two states are Virginia (33-11-8), and Pennsylvania (0-22-0).
In Virginia, which tied for the second largest number of "A" members (i.e., descendants of John), it appears that a second, relatively major, "B" line sprung up in the central part of the state, around Nelson, Amherst, and Albemarle counties.I have not yet determined the immigrant ancestor(s) of this line (perhaps Alexander?), but most of these Burnley seem to have descended from some close relatives who were born in Virginia in the mid to late 1800's, including John Daniel Burnley, George Washington Burnley, and James E. BurnleyThere were also a few descendants from two other immigrants listed in the group of 16 mentioned above.
The other state, Pennsylvania, by far, is largest "B" state from above.In fact, all 22 of the burials there can be linked to an immigrant other than John.Many of these in Pennsylvania can be linked to three brothers who came over from England in the early 1800's - George, Charles, and John - and who settled in the Delaware and Chester county area.These three are all said to be the children of a John and Mary Burnley in England.There was also a Benjamin line, with connections to the Erie and Philadelphia areas, and several other smaller lines.Altogether, there were at least seven Burnley immigrants in Pennsylvania (six from England, and one from Ireland).
Elsewhere throughout the country, some other small but notable Burnley immigrant ancestors include a "Charles T." in Wisconsin/Minnesota (born in England, with 3 descendants at Findagrave), an "Edwin" in Washington (born in England, with 5 descendants), a "Harold" in Arkansas (father was born in England, with 7 descendants), a "William" in Ohio (born in England, with 6 descendants), and a Charles R. (born in Kentucky, father unknown, with 9 descendants).
It seems likely that some of these Burnley families could have common ties, if not in the U. S., then back in England.For example, the Benjamin mentioned above in Pennsylvania is said to have had 10 children, including seven sons.Thus, the distribution of "B" lines may not be as widespread as suggested.
The final item that I looked at was the migration patterns of the three brothers in the "A" family - i.e., James, Israel, and Hardin.Again, I found some interesting results.
The descendants of James can be found primarily in Tennessee (29), Kentucky (20), and Virginia (25).In the first two states, they account for almost all of the Burnleys at Findagrave.In Virginia, they account for a large percentage, but brother Hardin also had some descendants there as well (including a former Governor of the State who is listed at Findagrave.)
The descendants of Israel can be found in Georgia (33), Oklahoma (11), Louisiana (7), Mississippi (31), and Missouri (22).Again, in the first three states, they account for almost all of the Burnleys at Findagrave.In Mississippi and Missouri, they also account for a large percentage of the burials, but brother Hardin shares the turf in Mississippi (with 19), and brother James shares the turf in Missouri (with 5).
Finally, the descendants of Hardin at Findagrave appear in large numbers in only two states, Mississippi (19) and Virginia (8).In Mississippi, Hardin dominates all of the counties except for Attala, which is where all of Israel's numerous descendants can be found.In Virginia, Hardin's descendants appear principally around Richmond City and Hanover Co.
In anyone is interested in this study, I have plenty of additional data that I would be glad to share, including state-by-state breakdowns (in chart form which is easier to read), and by-name ancestor links.I would also welcome any assistance in clarifying or correcting my assumptions about these distinct Burnley lines, or in identifying the 15% that I have been unable to place.I have only recently become familiar with many of the "B" lines, and I am sure there are researchers who could help.Finally, if there are any statisticians out there who can explain any gross errors in my assumptions, I would welcome these comments as well.