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Captain Jesse Burnam [1792-1883]

Source: Burnet Bulletin, 12 Oct 1882; Transcribed by Barry Caraway

Captain Burnam's 90th Birthday

The Oldest Texas Veteran Now Living, and the Only Survivor of the Austin's Colony

Editor, Bulletin:

The picnic given on the 15th ult., by the relatives of Capt. Burnam, was not only the most enjoyable affair of the season, but an event long to be remembered. The beautiful grove on Double Horn, between Mr. Cox and William Franklin's was rife with beauty, and gallant knights and fair ladies strove in glorious emulation to make the venerable old Patriot, in whose honor the entertainment was given, enjoy the pleasure of his surroundings to an illimitable degree. Then sun had hardly crossed the meridian when your humble correspondent (who is truly susceptible to the good things of life) was almost overcome by witnessing the unpacking of hamper after hamper containing edible of every description. The dinner was simply superb; and, when this youth was summoned to the "festive board" amid the sparkle of wine and flow of wit, he could not refrain from exclaiming: "O! if there be an Elysium on earth, it is this, it is this."

Captain Jesse Burnam, the subject of this sketch, came to Texas in 1821, and for three score years he has been closely identified with the history of the "Lone Star State. " After settling in Fayette county, he and his family endured all the hardships and privations incident to frontier life. For nine long weary months bread was a stranger at his board, and his only sustenance was the flesh of wild animals which held undisputed sway over the jungles of Texas. At the time of which we write, the Indians were waging a cruel and relentless warfare against the whites.

For his personal prowess, prudence and courage, Captain Burnam was appointed to a Captaincy by Col. Austin. The success attending his enterprise among the red men, and the speedy annihilation of them in his vicinity, was faithful evidence of the wisdom and justice of the appointment. Capt. B. bore a prominent part in the war with Mexico, and was with Col. Austin in many engagements, notably so in the latter's attack on San Antonio. While thus engaged he was elected to a Congress convened to make preparations for the war, and to devise ways and means to sustain it. He sat in Congress during two sessions. Burnam suffered heavy losses during the struggle for Texas liberty, and emerged from that sanguinary conflict a poor man; but without a murmur of complaint with the same heroism that had characterized his past life, he went bravely forth to battle with the stern necessities of life.

Captain Burnam is now ninety years of age. His hoary locks and emaciated frame bears evidence of the weight of years. His feebleness grows more apparent day by day, and in a little while the gallant soldier, the noble patriot, the loving and indulging father, must answer the bugle call of the Great Commander, and silently take his place in line among the noble chieftains whose brave deeds are the best and only inheritance of a God-fearing and loving people.

Of Captain B's children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and other relatives present at his anniversary we noticed, R. T. Burnam and family, W. T. Burnam, G. L. Burnam, Mrs. Delia Russell, Miss Emma Burnam, Lee Burnam, Mrs. Nannie Smithhart, Mrs. Mary Evans, William Denniston, Mrs. Ann Cox, Mrs. Lu Cass, Mrs. Mary Franklin, James Denniston, George Denniston and wife, and Mrs. Hob Hensley. Among the distinguished visitors we take pleasure in citing that old Texan and battle-scarred veteran-Thomas Simpson.


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