The Burris Family
The names Burris, Burrows, and Burroughs are all interchangeable for this family.The original immigrant seems to have been John Burrows who arrived as an indentured servant and lived in James City, Virginia, in 1623.Some Burris family researchers believe that the "main line" of the family settled in New Jersey and Delaware from about 1680 to 1740, with a few families coming into Maryland and western Virginia later.
The first Burris in our area was William Burris, son of William and Mary Morgan Burris, who was as early as the 1730s, and in 1747 had a farm on the Tygart River that joins the Monongahela upstream.He was born in Delaware in 1670 and died in 1759.He was a trader with various camps along the Monongahela near Morgantown.One old-timer said: Jacob Prickett was among the first white men who ever saw the Monongahela country, having been up the Monangahela River in 1745 or 1747 with David Morgan and others, to visit old Billy Burris on the Buckhannon River." William Burris had two sons, Enoch and Elijah, but it appears that the Burris family with whom we are concerned came from a different line.
John and Alexander Burris, said to have been sons of Elijah Burris of Sussex County, Delaware, lived in Dorchester and Montgomery Counties, Maryland for a few years and then, in 1766, crossed the mountains and settled in the area near present-day Morgantown.They may also have stopped in Hampshire County for some time on their way.John Burris, with his relatives, "old Evan" Morgan, Nathaniel Springer, and others, built Fort Burris in 1766, the same year for which John Burris claimed the land on which it stood.This was the first fort built in the area.It was looted and burned by Indians in 1778, after it had been evacuated, with the settlers taking refuge at nearby Fort Martin and Fort Kerns. John Burris was a lieutenant in a company commanded byZackquill Morgan.
The land, called Burris Camp Hollow, was surveyed in December 1766 by David Morgan.Camp Hollow is where John Burris and others camped while Burris Fort was being built.It was often told by Burris descendants that many newcomers to the valley camped there while looking out for lands on which to settle, and building cabins in which to live.The adjoining landowners were listed as Thomas John, Thomas Evans, and James Hoard.John Burris' land was on the upriver side at the mouth ofWest Run (see map 2); Edmund West who also settled in 1766, had 400 acres on the downriver side of West Run which were later sold to David Scott.John Burris sold off 388 acres of his tract, keeping the fort and about ten acres around it.His son, Elijah, had land between John's and John Evans'.
John Burris, b 1730, d between 1793/6, m. 1750 Elizabeth Boaz, b ca 1734.Children:
1.Boaz Burris moved to Kentucky and married Sarah Watters.He is listed in the 1820 Kentucky Census in Butler County.There was another Boaz Burris who arrived with his wife Bridget Willey, born in Delaware, dau ofWilliam Willey who came to settle near Collins Ferry, on the east side of the Monangahela but later moved to Buffalo Creek, near the site of Farmington.Boaz Burrows was appointed a justice of the peace in May, 1806.In August he was also appointed an overseer of the poor for the west side district of Morgantown.In 1819 he was appointed school commissioner.
2.Elizabeth (Betty/Polly) Burrows, d ca 1776, m. Charles Martin.(There's a problem with dates here.John Burris was said to be born in 1730 and married in 1750, but Elizabeth's first child, Jesse, was presumably born before 1765, so she would have been married very young.)
3.Eunice Burris, 1753-, m Geoge Boydston.
4.Elijah Burris, 1756-1798.As previously mentioned, Elijah settled 400 acres of land adjoining John Evans in 1774.When his father died ca 1793, he left all his real estate to Elijah, and asked Elijah to pay £300 to his other siblings in varying amounts.In 1796 Elijah was a captain in the county militia.He married Sarah Morgan, the daughter of David Morgan who figured in the story of David's fight with the two Indians which I have previously related.She died in 1791 and Elijah died at the age of 42 in 1798, leaving their young children as orphans.John Evans, Jr., John Wilson Dean, and Stephen Morgan were appointed guardians.The first two were also executors.The will provided that the lands were to be equally divided among the three sons after 50 acres each was given to the daughters.There was also land in Kentucky which was disposed of in the name of all the children.The children were:
vii.Nancy Ann, 1786-.She may have been taken in by the Martin family because she called herself Ann Martin Burris.In 1807 she married William Baldwin, 1784-1857.
5.John Burris, 1758-.
6.Esther Ann Burris, 1760-, m David Boydston.
The other Burris that needs discussion here is Samuel Burrows mentioned in James Popenoe's deposition as "an old schoolmaster who taught school near to my father when I was a small boy..."He had written on the same paper the ages of the children of Peter Popino and the children of Elijah Burrows, and this paper "came into the hands ofJohn Evans, Jr., executor ofthe estate of P.C. Burrows Dec'd."Samuel claimed 400 acres of land on Buffalo Creek, adjoining land claimed by John Scott, to include his improvement made in the year 1776.Since this is a long way from where Elijah Burris and Elizabeth Popeno lived, it seems likely that--like many others--he claimed the land but was actually living in the Evans/Burris neighborhood.
In 1786, Samuel Buris was one of some 60 men (including John Evans and Charles Martin) who signed a petition to the Virginia Legislature asking for establishment of a seminary for Monongalia, Ohio and Harrison Counties."The Rays of Science from the University of William and Mary cannot shoot their enlightening Beam amongst us--the intervening Mountains our distance and our poverty cut us off from every possible advantage to be driv'd from thence.Sensible that the Legislature of Virginia will promise and encourage Literature even at the Extreme of their extensive Republick we are induced to Solicite the countenance and Sanction of your Hon: Body in establishment of a Seat amongst us."