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Burress & Combs Family History

Written by Matilda Burress Bledsoe, Raleigh's daughter.

Written by Matilda Burress Bledsoe, daughter of Raleigh & Cana Combs Burress in her later years, and at times repeats herself.

My father was the oldest boy.  His name was Raleigh Hamilton Burress.  He grew up with the Combs family.  My father and mother were neighbors.  They were raised on farms that joined. They were both large families.  My father's family was 5 girls and 4 boys.  One set of twins.  They were nick named Bud and Sis.  Then the next girl was Sarah Ann.  Then the next was another John. W. Burress.  Then the other girl, Mary Lou.  Then Dora Elizabeth.  The Flora.  The other boy came along, his name was Newt.

My grandfather, John W. Burress, didn't take too much care of his family all though he had a wonderful wife  She had a hard life with John.  He mistreated his wife and children.  He was a horse trader.  He was a heavy drunkard. The children, when they would see him coming would ran to safety.  Sometimes at the neighbors. If the weather was warm, they would hide other places. I have heard my mother say he would be gone from his family for days just horse trading around. So when Newt was only three weeks old, grandfather was out on one if his sprees.  It was a rainy season, low in the 18's and with the children all very young.  So Grandmother needed milk for the children.  Grandfather wasn't home to help out so she went out and milked the cow so should could have milk for the children.  She had a severe cold at the time, so took pneumonia and lived only a few days.  Then the children were scattered around their kin folk.

Grandmother had a sister, Ollie, she had another sister Mattie, who married Byrd Patton Brewster.  They didn't have any children.  They were both middle aged, and they had always liked my father, Raleigh, very much.  At the time, Dad was about 15 years old.  So he made his home with his Aunt Mattie Brewster and his Uncle Byrd Brewster who was a railroad man. He got his leg cut off by a train.  He didn't live to long after that. The other children were scattered around until grandfather married Jennie Chambers. Then they kept all the children together.

Granddad (John W. Burress) met a fine widow, Jennie Chambers.  She had two little girls by her first husband. He was a railroad man before he got killed by a train.

The girls were Mollie and Cynthia.  So Granddad and Jennie became married.  Both had children.  Now there were 10 for them to raise and they had two children of their own. Back in those days people raised their food. Some of them were very thrifty.  So they did a very good food.

Granddad didn't care to much about work.  He would rather beat about then work for the family so the children did little jobs around such as picking berries in the summer and selling them.  

At the time Granddaddy would come in drunk and would be very rude with his family. When he wasn't drinking he had a nice personality, but when he drank he was mean.  The children were afraid of him. I have heard my mother say, the children and grandmother would have to hide when they saw him coming.  Some times they wouldn't have time to hide.  He would beat them, he didn't care.  Grandmother hardly knew how to please him.  He was wicked when he was drinking.  My mother said he came in one time after they had a little son.  He was three years old.  He had had pneumonia, but had got over it and was running across the floor in front of the fireplace, which had a hot fire of logs like they used in those days.  The weather was very cold with large snow.  So Robert, the child's name, fell into the fireplace and was so severely burned he almost died.  But after so long he regained his health and was getting along fine.  But one night, Granddaddy came home drunk and mean.  Robert was playing. 

Granddad got mad at grandmother and threw a large coffe cup at her.  The cup hit the child in the head.  He took pneumonia and died.  Then Grandfather finally began to see himself, but he still couldn't do without his drinking.Granddaddy was a smart man.  If he could have left off the liquor, the lawyers could have helped him.  They tried to get him to let it alone so they could use him in law work.  They told him he was to intellegent to let liquor fool with him.  They gave him a law job. He had the opportunity to become a lawyer in Tazewell County. He read law books and could have been a great help to the law service but he could not let liquor alone.  So they couldn't use him.  So he was a horse trader and a drunkard. He wasn't an honest man either. I have heard my mother say he would bloat horses up on baking soda to make them look healthy until he got them sold.  The children were all very young when Grandmother died, they had a very hard life after grandmother's death, but they were all nice children.  They all married.

Aunt Sis married a law man by the name of Edgar Harman.  They raised a large family.  Uncle Bud married a young lady by the name of Mary Quesenberry.  They too, had a large family. Sarah married Henry Shortridge in Tazewell.   Mary married her cousin, George Quesenberry.  Dora Elizabeth married Jim Hooker, John W. married Nora Griffith.  Flora married Bill Whitt.  Newt married Verge Reedy.  The two step children Cynthia and Mollie, Cynthia married Robert and Mollie married Robert Waldron. 

Grandmother Jennie had another girl by John.  Her name was Beatrice.  Then a son, Robert, who died at four years. Beatrice married Walter Reedy, he was from Virginia, he died at a young age.  They had 7 children.

After all the children grew up, grandfather came to West Virginia.  He was stable boss there for several years when the coal companies had horses and wagons to haul coal to their employee's homes back in the earl 1900's.  Grandfather lived to be 85.  He lay bedfast for 3 1/2 years with what was called in those days white swelling (in his leg).

My father, Raleigh, married Cannie Combs, but in the meantime, there was an orphan girl.  Mother's father had a large family.  His name was Richard Combs.  He married Susie Totten from Scott County. (Although I'm sure she confused that with Symth County) That was my mother's mother's name.  So they took this small girl in and gave her a home with their children.  They had at that time about six children, so this girl, her name was Rose Mae Stamper was added to their family.

As time went on the Combs and the Burress' lived on joining farms.  As the children grew to what we call today teenagers, they call them the young folks.  My father fell in love with Rose and they were engaged, but they broke up.  The dad began going with Cannie Mae Combs.  Cannie was young, Rose was older.  Cannie had four sisters at that time.  Three brothers, and a set of twin girls.  Mother Cannie had a brother older than she was named Charles.  The twins were Laura and Rachel.  Laura married a man by the name of William Rose.  Rachel married a widower man with four children.  His name was Robert Martin.  Uncle Charles soon married a lady by the name of Ollie.  Mother had a sister Beatrice.  She married Jimmy Smith.  They only had two girls, but Aunt Laura had four children; two sets of twin girls.  Rose, the girl mother's family raised married George Blankenship, who was a relative of my father.

My grandfather Combs was an orphan.  He was raised by a relative by the name of Pennington, but grandmother Combs was related to the Catterns (sp).

My Grandfather's father was William Burress.  His wife was from the Pack family  Her name was Sarah Ann. They had five children that I can remember.  Three girls and two boys.  One of the boys was John W.  The other was George and one was Jim.  They had 3 girls, Mollie, Cynthia and Ollie.  Mollie married Billy Marrs, Cynthia married Bud Sharader, ollie married a Quesenberry.  George, I think married a Lambert.

Grandfather married Sarah Rose Matilda Earls.  He was a drunkard and a horse trader. A Horse Jacky, I guess we say, but grandmother was a christian.  She loved the Lord. She had a brother, Dudley, older than her.  He owned (unreadable) the wool mill there in Tazewell, Virginia.  Uncle George was manager of the meat packing house in Tazewell, Va, but Jim wasn't to good.  He scouted around. 

The house was in a wood land gust.  They had padlocks on their doors and hardly any windows.  When the twins were only a day or so old, this was in Scott (maybe Smyth) county, there were bears there.  So Grandfather had to sit by a small window all night long with a shot gun barrel in the window to keep the bears away.  They smelled the young babies.

In those days there were wild onions in Tazewell County.  So my father had a sister named Sarah Ann.  She was the girl, then John W., a brother, then Mary.  Mary married her cousin, a Quesenberry.  Flora married a Whitt. Dora Elizabeth married a Hooker.  Then there was another boy.  They named him Newt.

Back in those days, people had only what they raised.  Every family made their own clothes, knitted their stockings, made their bed clothing.  They hardly had blankets, all were quilts.

The Combs were a large family when my mother and father got acquainted.  Grandmother Combs was Susan Totten.  Grandfather Combs was an orphan boy.  He was raised by the Pennington family.  Grandmother Combs was from Scott County, but at that time the Burress' and combs lived in Tazewell County. So did all the young folks.

My grandfather Combs was Richard Combs.  My mother's name was Cannie Mae.  She had a brother older than her.  His name was Charley.  There were a set of twins.  Their names were Laura and Rachel.  Berty (Bertie) was another girl.  John, then Brytain, then Mannie.  They had a girl Evelon and Ervin, Robert and Clara.  But in the meantime, there was an orphan girl.  Her name was Rose Stamper.  My mother's father and mother took Rose and raised her too.  She was older then Cannie. Mother had a brother Charles.  He married a girl by the name of Ollie.  They had 2 girls and 1 boy.  The boys name was Clarence. One of the girls was Edna.

Mother's sister, Laura married Bill Rose.  Her sister Rachel married Robert Martin.  He had four children.  His first wife died at child birth when the youngest girl was born.  There were two girls and two boys, Eric and Lee as the boys names.  Elsie and Zulta were the girls. 

Uncle John, Mother's other brother, married Norah Jones.  They never had any children, but uncle John was wounded in WWI.  Mother's other brother married Floocy Bear.  There were no children.  This brother's name was Britan.  Three of mother's brothers were railroad men. Rose Stamper married George Blankenship, my father's cousin.  He was tongue-tied.  Berta, mother's other sister, married Jim Smith.  They had two girls, Lola and Lula.

My mother's first child, Walter, was born December 7, 1900.  Matilda Glady's Cannie's next child was born 1902.  She was named after Raleigh's mother.  They Byrd Patton in 1905.  He was named after Raleigh's Uncle Byrd Brewster.   Then in 1907, Emery Hamilton was born.  Then Dora Helen in 1909.  Then Arthur Ernest in 1911.  In 1912 Sherman Woodrow.  Then twins - a boy and a girl - Emmison and Georgia Emma.  The boy died at age four months and the girl Georgia married Bill Harman.  In 1921 Perry Vernon was born to the Burress family.  He went by the nickname Jack.  He was in WWII. He had to marry a girl by the name of Adaline Whitt.  They had four children.  After the children, they didn't get along too well, so they separated and adopted the children.  Adaline died after several years and Jack married a woman, Allen was her name.  They both worked at the General Hospital in Baltimore, MD.  He was a Janitor and she a nurses aid.

My mother was 16 when she married.  My father was a cook on the railroad at that time.  My mother's oldest brother was Charles Combs.  Grandfather Combs lived on the farm and they were cutting timber when Raleigh and Charles fell out with anger.  They threatened each other, but they lived and got along very well as brothers-in-law.

My father had a high temper.  He would fight a circle saw.  He wasn't afraid of anyone and he lead the banjo picking.  He called the figures for the dances.  He was very famous.  So father and mother lived on the farm for several years until they had four children.  At that time the Burress' lived in Pounding Mill, Virginia.  in 1905, Byrd Patton was born, then in November the Burress' moved to West Virginia.  Then Emory Hamilton was born in 1907.  So when Emery was 8 months weeks old, my father moved back to the farm.  At that time Dad was working in the coal mines at Canebrake.  He worked after the coal cutting machine at Mine No. 3.  He helped to open up No. 3 mine.  He worked night shift. So one night he got his big toe broken, so he never did work at the machine any more, but moved to the farm in Virginia.  Mother's brother in law ran the machine. That was in 1907.  So we lived on the farm for a little while.

So dad got dissatisfied and moved back to Canebrake.  The company came to see if the would move back, so he did.  He had laid track for the railroad company in his young life.  So the coal company gave him a job laying main line track.  So he later became main line track boss.  He liked his job very much, he had several men under him learning to lay track from dad.  Then in 1909, there was born the family another child, a daughter.  Her name was Dora Elizabeth Helen Burress.  She was born February 1909.  Then when Dora was two months old, dad flew up and moved back to the farm in Tazewell, Va.  So he lived in Virginia until after the fall. Dad moved back to West Virginia and picked up his old job and stayed until 1914.  Then he moved back to Virginia and lived in Virginia until after the death of my brother, Walter.  Walter died in 1915, on April 6th on Mother's birthday.  Georgia and her twin brother were born on April 19, 1915.  Then in June dad moved back to West Virginia.  He stayed in West Virginia until after the death of my mother.  Mother liked West Virginia.  She always said she wanted to die in West Virginia, so she died in War and was buried in West Virginia.

My dad was a preacher at that time.  So after mother's death, dad met a fine woman, Frances Alley, who had lost her husband a short time before mother's death.  This lady lived in Richlands, Virginia, so dad and Frances kept seeing each other, so they got married in 1929.  Mother died February 28, 1927. She was quick with TB.

After Raleigh and Frances married they lived in West Virginia for a few years.  Then he got cut off from work.  He worked outside the mines at Berwind, WV.  He had for 32 years.  Then the moved to Richlands, VA.  He sold products for different companies.  She did many extra jobs such as sewing.  She was a fine hand to sew scarves, quilt, and did laundry for the hotel there in Richlands.  So they both did every well. Raleigh had three boys and one girl at home.  At the present, Frances had two boys and one girl, Elsie.  Raleigh's daughter was Georgie, the boys were Ernest and Sherman.  Frances boys were Cecil and Joe.  So Raleighs children stayed with their brothers and sisters until they grew up.  When the children married off, Raleigh and Frances moved to Cedar Bluff.  They lived there about 12 years and Frances sewed for the sewing factory there in Tazewell.  Raleigh sold products and other items as well.  They both had to work very hard to earn a living.  They were never poor but the work was hard.  They farmed, raised the gardens, did lots of canning and some times raised their hogs.  Raleigh was a hard working man when his first wife was living most of the time.  He raised their hogs, had his cows, kept plenty of milk for the children.

There were three girls that grew to women, Matilda G., Dora Helen, Georgia Emma. There were five boys that grew to be men, Byrd P., Emery H. Earnest A., Sherman W. and Perry N. Burress.

There were several children that died in childhood.  Dad had a sweet red-readed boy.  Him and Georgia were twins.  He lived to be four months old.  In April 1916 there was another girl born to the Burress family.  He name was Lola Mae.  She was killed by a car running over her in 1921 September.  There was another son born to the Burress family in October.  His name was Perry Vernon.  He was 5 years and 4 months when Mother died.  She called me to her room on Tuesday, before she died on Monday and told me to move in my furniture with father and take care of the home as I had always done.  So my husband and I moved what furniture we wanted to keep and lived on with the family until Dad married Frances Alley. This was in April 1929. Tyler and I had already moved out by the time dad and his new wife came in.  She was a wonderful person, a real Christian and was so good to all the children.


Linked toFamily: Burress/Earls (F186); Family: Burress/Combs (F204); Family: Burress/Pack (F219); Family: Pennington/Combs/Totten (F320)

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