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Private Abner* Burns Partain
U. S. Marine Corps
Ser. No. 125324

June 7, 1896 - September 24, 1918
Hillside Cemetery
Cuero, DeWitt County, Texas

Gold Star Mother
Ella [Burns] Partain

Service Record

Private A. Burns Partain [June 7, 1896 - September 24, 1918] was born to Rev. Robert Abner Partain, [August 1, 1836 - February 22, 1897] and Ella (Burns) Partain**[October 10, 1864 - March 31, 1949] at Tide Haven [Demming’s Bridge], Matagorda County, Texas.  According to family information, he died from an apparent ruptured appendix while aboard a troopship en-route to Europe during WWI and was buried at sea. After obtaining a copy of his Marine Corps service record it was determined he died aboard the
USS Von Steuben*** while the ship was at anchor at Brest, France of Brocho[sic] Pneumonia [probable Spanish Flu].  His remains were retained onboard ship and returned to the US Naval Hospital at New York, NY.  From there he was, at his Mother’s request, returned to Cuero, DeWitt County, Texas and interred at Hillside Cemetery.  His Mother and sister, Jeannette P. (Partain) Cook were later buried beside him.  He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps**** on June 22, 1918 and was attached to Company “A”, 1st Battalion, 13th Regiment, 5th Marine Brigade.  His unit had fought at Aisne, Aisen-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Toulon-Troyon, Chateau-Thierry, Marabache and Limey before he joined the Corps.  From December 1918 to July 1919, the 1st Battalion participated in the occupation of the German Rhineland. Burns enrolled at Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas in the fall of 1913 and graduated in the summer of 1917 with an Art Baccalaureate (today Bachelor of Arts) Degree.  He moved to Uvalde, Uvalde County, Texas and was employed with the Uvalde School District as a schoolteacher when he joined the Marine Corps.  His mother was living at Gonzales, Gonzales County, Texas when he enlisted and when he died. His father is buried in the Partain Family Cemetery near Blessing, TX.  On January 4, 1921 his Mother Ella received from the Marine Corps a WWI Victory Medal and a Baltese[sic] Cross - this was most likely the WWI French Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) Medal which was issued from 1914 - 1918.


*In most of the available records the name Abner is abbreviated and the name is given as A. Burns.  His grave marker at Cuero gives A. Burns.


**Second wife: married at Cuero, DeWitt County, TX on February 10, 1891.


***First known as the Kronprinz Wilhelm.


****The U.S. Marine Corps was an all-volunteer service in WWI.  The Marines who served in France on the Western Front earned the nickname Teufel Hunde, or “devil dogs,” from the Germans because of their ferocious fighting in the trenches.  One German prisoner complained the Marines were animals, they killed anything that moved.  The term “Devil Dog” is still used with great pride in the Marine Corps today.


It is possible that Private Partain would have been a patient in the
sick bay pictured above before his death.





Uncle Robert Partain Dead

The community was shocked on Tuesday morning on the receipt of the sad and unexpected intelligence of the death of Rev. R. A. Partain, Deming's Bridge, generally known as Uncle Robt. Partain.

He died very suddenly of heart failure at his home near Deming's Bridge on Monday morning, February 22nd, 1897 about 10 o'clock, aged 61 years.

Uncle Robert had just returned from Ganado, where he filling an appointment as pastor, staying all night Sunday night with some friends on the Caranchua, he drove home Monday morning and in passing through one of the gates his team tried to get away from him and in his efforts to recapture them it is supposed that he ran for quite a distance and became much excited and overheated, bringing on the heart trouble. He arrived home however, complained of feeling badly and a physician was sent for at once, but he only lived about 10 minutes after arriving home. At least above are the particulars given to us by a messenger who came across with the news to notify the local members of the Masonic lodge, of which Uncle Robert was a member, who went across at once to help bury him. So did Rev. McKee, the new Baptist pastor.

Deceased was, we believe, a native of Matagorda county, at least he had lived here most of his life, if not all. He was one of the oldest and most respected citizens of the county. A plain man, but a kind-hearted, generous and noble character. Everybody respected and loved him, and he took such a fatherly interest in everyone that he was reverently called Uncle Robert by almost everyone, because they loved him.

For a number of years he was a regularly ordained Baptist preacher and he was such a faithful worker in the Master's vineyard; his heart and life was so full of Christian love that his life and his work was a power for good in the cause.  Well do we remember the last time he preached in Bay City, only a few months ago, he made a touching appeal to the unconverted and said that perhaps it would be his last appeal, little did we then think of how soon his words would come true. His life was true, so pure, so unselfish, that everybody had unlimited confidence in his every profession and both saint and sinner believed that he loved them from the depth of a genuine Christian heart and life. Indeed his was a beautiful life to contemplate and his influence for good will live on and on, like a pebble on the mighty deep, long after his body has mouldered back to dust.

He had raised a large and respected family in the county and leaves a wife and good large family of children to mourn his loss. He was a noble and kind husband and father. He has several grown children who reside in other parts of the state.

His remains were laid to rest on Wednesday in the family burying ground [Partain Cemetery] at Deming's Bridge, the funeral services being conducted by the Masons.

Uncle Robert Partain lived a noble life, he died a Christian death and has gone home to a Christian's reward. His life is worthy of emulation, because he was so grand and good. The Breeze joins the whole community in extending to the bereaved our sincerest sympathies.

The Bay City Breeze, February, 1897

[A handwritten note was added to this obituary which said Mr. Partain was born August 1, 1836 in New Orleans. His family was involved in the Runaway Scrape.]

Service Record

College yearbook picture, 1916, courtesy of  Special Collections, John Tower Library,
A. Frank Smith Jr. Library Center, Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas

Cemetery pictures courtesy of Kenneth L. Thames


Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Jan. 30, 2006
Oct. 10, 2009