BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY

The Burgum family history society is a member of the Guild of one name studies and researches the names
BURGUM
and BURGHAM

Anthony Thomas Burgum (1834-1913)


Anthony Thomas Burgum belongs to the "FF" family tree or perhaps it would be more accurate to say a large part of the "FF" family tree belongs to him. His descendants know him simply as 'AT' and make up the largest of the three Burgum familes living in the United States of America.

'AT' was born the only child of William and Edith Burgum on October 11th 1834. (Edith's maiden name had been Bowery). He was christened on October 19th 1834 at the church at Weston-under-Penyard, close to "The Malt House", the family home. Seven years later, the 1841 census shows that the family had moved back to Aston Ingham, a farming area just to the north of the Forest of Dean. William, A.T.'s father, worked a a cabinet maker and they lived at "Wall House". William Garfield, a fifteen year old boy, also lived at the house, working as a cabinet maker's apprentice. A.T. was said to be about fourteen years old when his father, walking home one night, fell down a mine shaft and was killed. Despite an extensive search, no record of Willliam's death (death certificate, parish record, newspaper report, etc.) has so far been found, but I shall continue to seek supporting evidence for this story.

On October 10th 1849, A.T.'s mother Edith married Thomas Owen, a farmer from Ruardean, in the Forest of Dean. A.T. worked on the farm. Thomas was eleven years younger than Edith and the marriage, alas, was not a happy one. On May 30th 1857, A.T. Burgum married Ann Harper Bradley at Bishop's Cleeve, Gloucestershire (just north of Cheltenham). Over the next fourteen years, Ann gave birth to seven children, all but one surviving to adulthood. William Henry was the eldest, born in early 1858. Joseph Arthur was next, born at Ruardean Woodside, March 2nd 1860. Tom Owen was the third son, born June 15th 1862, at Woolhope, Herefordshire. Edith Elizabeth Charlotte was born October 4th 1864, also at Woolhope, but sadly died two years later.


The changing locations indicate how the family moved within the area, as A.T. sought alternative employment. Family tradition states that A.T. had a strong physique, had worked a a miner and a farmer, and had possibly been an amateur prize fighter. In 1866, the family moved to Llantillio Crosseny, a small town about ten miles inside the Welsh border. In 1867 Annie Louise was born there, and on March 18th 1869 another daughter was born. This daughter was given the name of her late sister, Edith Elizabeth. Finally, also at Llantillio Crosseny, Clara Jane was born May 18th 1871.

The same year, A.T. and Ann took the bold decision to emigrate to America. They entered the USA at Portland, Maine, on January 1st 1872. The family settled near Villisca, Iowa, apparently because a friend had settled there. They only remained there a short time before moving to Arlington where they remained for several years, before returning once again to Villisca. A.T. decided he wished to become an American citizen and filed his papers of intention on September 19th 1873.

In 1874, Ann Harper Bradley Burgum died in childbirth. (According to family tradition, because of the ignorance of the young local doctor who attended her). The baby also died. Mother and child were buried in Evergreen Cemetery, a few miles from Villisca. Looking after the farm and six children was not easy. A.T.'s daughters grew uo with female guidance, although kindly neighbours had rallied round after Ann's death. William, the oldest son, soon left home to work on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Later, when the boys went out to work, the girls were left to do the household chores. Often they played instead!

In October 1877, A.T. became a naturalised citizen of the United States of America. Between March 1875 and 1881 he obtained property in Washington Township, Montgomery County, Iowa. A deed shows that A.T. purchased the "south-east quarter of section 31, township 72, north of range 36, west of the 5th PM, containing 160 acres more or less according to Government survey," dated October 20th 1880.

In March 1882, the family moved on once again. Togther with their neighbours, the A.C.Ranards, the Burgums began the hazardous journey to North Dakota in three covered wagons. (A.T.'s eldest son, however, remained behind and continued to live in Iowa for the rest of his life). In good spirits and camping each night, the families made good progress until they reached Lake Benton, Minnesota. There they were hit by a three day blizzard and were forced to take refuge in an old box car transformed into a house. They took the decision to sell their wagons and continue their journey on the ever expanding railroad. Do not be deceived by the existance of a railway. Life for the settlers was hard and the elements could be cruel. Civilisation and law and order were still in their infancy. Let me put 1882 into historical context...

It was just seven years since Custer had left Fort Abraham Lincoln, North Dakota, on his fateful mission to the Little Bighorn. This was the year before Sitting Bull and the Sioux indians were to return from Canada, beaten and dejected. Once here, they surrendered to the US Army and were confined to the norhern reservations in Dakota. It was to be another eight years before the final indian uprising occurred, inspired by the cult of the Ghost Dance, at Wouded Knee. These events put the era into context, but not the threat. A farmer's enemies at this time were storms, wind, drought and even locusts.

A.T. arrived at Arthur and a farmhouse just half a mile from the town became their home. This area proved to be a good choice , with promising farming conditions. Later A.T. purchased Section 31 in Gunkel Townshipnfor $2.00 an acre. (Was it a coincidence that A.T. went for "Section 31" again?). It has long been thought that A.T. made this purchase shortly after his arrival in Arthur, but the records seem to show a slightly different story. The original Patent for the land was between the USA and the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, who then sold to Edward J. Hodgson. The sale, by Warrenty Deed, to A.T. Burgum appears to have taken place December 16th 1886. He paid thirteen thousand dollars for the six hundred and fifty acres of land.

In 1884 A.T. married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Hall, who lived in Arthur, but had originally come from Illinois. Her father, Samuel Hall, owned a general store in Arthur. Annie, A.T.'s eldest daughter refused to attend the wedding! A.T. and Lizzie had three children, Zana born May 1885, Elizabeth born September 1893 and Frances born September 1895. A.T. remained in contact with his mother, who had married for the third time. Her new husband was Thomas Hill and she lived her last years at Hainston Farm, near Preston-on-Wye, owned by her step-son, Chris Hill. She was a very religious woman and missed her son dearly, but consoled herself with the belief that they would meet up again in heaven.

The following letter was written to A.T. Burgum dated 26th November 1889. It is signed by Edith Hill, A.T.'s mother.

My dear dear Tom
I thought you would like a line from your dear Mother but I can scarcely see. I do hope you are all well. Tell the dear children they must forgive me as I cannot write. I truely thank them for the pictures yours my dear boy is going in my coffin when it pleases God to call me and my constant prayer is as you all may meet in heaven O may God grant it. Please divide the cards as you like good bye my dear Boy with kindest love to all may God bless you all.
Your ever loving Mother,
E. Hill


As Edith's sight was failing, the main part of the letter was written by Christopher Hill, her step-son. The text is repeated below...

From Hainstone Farm, Preston-on-Wye, Herefordshire, Nov-26-1889
Dear Mr Burgum,
Mother wishes me to write you a few lines and I sincerely trust that you and Mrs B. and all the family are quite well. I am thankful to say that your Mother his (sic) enjoying pretty good health considering her great age of course she his (sic) breaking (sic) up (?) and her eyesight his (sic) dim but she can still see to read with her glasses. I am also glad to say that Father and all of us are quite well. We are having very mild wether (sic) here at the present. Mother wants to know if you think of going South has (sic) you spoke of it when you wrote. You are to write us a long letter telling us all particulars and your reason for moving. We have a faint hope that farming prospects will brighten up. Stock of all kinds are selling well. Corn his (sic) good except wheat which is selling at from 3s-6d to 4s very best white. We have not heard from any of the Ruardean peole for a long time. John Evans has sold the Saracens Head Hotel Hereford and his (sic) gone to Ruardean to spend his remaining days he had a large profit out of it.
Chris Hill


Edith Hill died November 12th 1898 and was buried in the churchyard at Preston-on-Wye church. Her gravestone no longer exists, but others in the family, including Chris Hill's wife, are still marked beside her.
A.T. continued to farm until 1908, when he moved into Arthur where he built a home at the eastern edge of town. He rented the farm to one of his sons. A.T. was prominent in the construction of the Methodist Church and in the progress of the town in general. He held several offices of school and township. A.T. possessed a rugged health and an iron constitution up to his seventy-sixth year.
During his last two years, however, he endured acute suffering. A.T. died at the age of 78, in Arthur, March 24th 1913 and was buried in Arthur Cemetery. His wife, Elizabeth died in 1933.