On the occasion of my Niece’s marriage, my son Benjamin Burgess and I took the time to travel to Bedford (was split into Franklin) County Court House in Bedford to research Kessey. We took my mother Fae Burgess, wife of Mitchell Burgess (/Dori/Armstead Lewis / Armstead / Kessy), who has intended to do this since moving to be close to my sister in Blacksburg, some 50 miles from Bedford.
We had a delightful time researching the original documents in the court house. We quickly found the reference to the bonding of Kessiah, but no further records were found on her directly. Ben having just graduated with a degree in History, (suggested that when information connecting people runs out, that contextual research about the time and place be the next step. And so we started a more general search of all Burgesses from 1790 until 1800 listed in each of the master indexes. We have begun to build a database of this information, hoping find some way to link a one year old (Kessey) to another Burgess in the area. With Ben reading the index, I pulled each ancient leather bound volume and looked up the page, while mom took notes. We frequently needed the help of the resident pro as many court abbreviations are used.
Here is some of what we have uncovered so far.
First, I have understood that the binding language was in the Book of the Overseers of the Poor. This is not true, it is in the general court books which include many other kinds of rulings. Bedford County was only a few years old in 1790 and still part of the frontier. In fact it is still rural today; Bedford is the largest town and is just a small village. Each year is carefully indexed in a master index book, which refers the actual book where it is organized chronologically as it happened, case by case.
As most of you know it is this:
” . . and that “the same” bind Keziah Burgess to ~Jno Nichols Senior according to law.”
The previous line to which “the same” refers to is“Ordered that the overseers of the poor bind. . .”
Making the full statement read,
And that it be Ordered that the overseers of the poor bind Keziah Burgess to ~ Jno Nichols according to law.”
Date was October 1791
In addition we found two additional curious bindings:
Bonded to John Grant
Ordered that James McDaniel, son of Mary Burgess be bound by the overseers to John Grant according to law. 1792-June 25 (John Grant and Wife)
This is only 9 months later! Is there a connection? We also found information on a Mary Burgess, more later.
James Burgess Was Bonded to John Nichols Jr. in 1795 in the same way.
No mention of mother or father is made for James or Kessiah, both are bonded to a Nichols, John Junior and Senior. This seems too much of a coincidence to us, yet we still have no real link.
So we have three children with a Burgess connection being bonded within four years! Interesting, perhaps not much to be proud of!
We also learned that the Nichols Sr. was a prominent man in the county, but have not really found much more. This family needs to be researched some. Is John Sr. the father of Kessiah? It was not uncommon for this to happen. But Mary Burgess is also curious; did she have several children out of wedlock, perhaps a prostitute in the newly formed frontier?
We found a Mary Burgess who was married in 1790 to Zechariah Davis in Montgomery County VA. Mary was the daughter of William Burgess Sr. who had 9 children and died in Bedford County in 1778. He had several parcels of property that were divided by his Last Will and Testimony. We found a suit against the estate was settled a year later.
Is there a link? William Burgess Sr was born 1718 and married to Susannah Garland ? in 1743. He died in Bedford Cty VA in 1778. Was Mary the same one mentioned in connection with James McDaniel?
Where do we go now? I currently have 20 Burgesses in Bedford approximately at this time. It would be very unusual I think if she came from outside the area.
The William Burgess family needs to be thoroughly researched along with each of the Bindors Nichols and Grants. Anyone who finds anything please let me know.
I’ll be adding these to my data as they are researched.