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Ellsworth Burnett (1836-1895)

Ellsworth Burnett was born August 5, 1836, in Madrid (St. Lawrence County), New York, to Benedict Burnett (1807-1885) and Mary Levings (1808-1874), a sister of Daniel Hall Levings, the father of Edwin D. Levings and Homer W. Levings.  Around the time he was 21, he came to Pierce County in Wisconsin.  He may have come with his Uncle Daniel Levings and his cousins, in which case he arrived in River Falls on May 13, 1856.  His brother George Pomeroy Burnett may have come with him or come later; the two were living together when the 1860 federal census was taken.

Burnett enlisted on August 12, 1862, in what became Company A of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry.  He was promoted to sergeant, and then on April 19, 1864, was commissioned captain of Company F, 37th Wisconsin Infantry.  He was brevetted a major, U.S. Volunteers, on April 6, 1865, for “conspicuous bravery at the siege of Petersburg, Va.”  He mustered out of service on July 27, 1865.

After the War, Ellsworth Burnett returned to River Falls.  In the 1870 federal census, two of his brothers were living with him: George Pomeroy Burnett (1838-1919) and Edward Payson Burnett (1845-1914).  He met Amelia Frances Cox (1845-1941), the daughter of Santa Rosa Judge C. B. Cox and his wife Margaret.  Ellsworth married Amelia on November 24, 1873, in River Falls; they had no children.

Ellsworth Burnett died April 14, 1895, in Santa Rosa (Sonoma County), California.  He is buried in the Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetery in Santa Rosa.

His obituary from the River Falls Journal, April 25, 1895, follows:

Death of Major Burnett.

From the Santa Rosa (Cal.) Democrat.

Major Ellsworth Burnett, aged 58, died on Easter Sunday evening at 6 o’clock P. M. at his residence on Cherry street in this city.

Major Burnett was born in St. Lawrence county, New York.  At about the age of 21 he left his native place to seek a home in the then wilderness of northwestern Wisconsin.  He located at River Falls, Pierce county, Wis., within thirty miles of the city of St. Paul, where he engaged in the business of lumbering and farming until the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion, when he enlisted in Company A of the 30th Wis. Regiment of Infantry.  He participated in the fortunes of the regiment for nearly two years, being promoted to sergeant, their service being mostly within their own State of Wisconsin.

Feeling a strong desire to see more of the war, he sought for and obtained a recruiting commission, returned home and raised a full company of men, was placed in command as captain and assigned to the 37th Regiment Wis. Volunteer Infantry, and immediately sent forward to join the great Army of the Potomac, where the regiment arrived almost without discipline just before the battle before Petersburg.  At the blowing up of the mine at Petersburg his regiment was ordered into the breach formed by the explosion and exposed to a terrible enfilading fire from the enemy which nearly annihilated the regiment.  For the last year and a half of the war until the surrender at Appomattox he was in the front of that army in many hard-fought battles, yet escaped without loss of life or limb, while but few of his company ever lived to come home.

After the war he resumed his business of lumbering and farming in Wisconsin, when by his indomitable energy, sterling integrity and frugal habits he secured for himself a comfortable living, as well as a large place in the hearts and affections of his friends and neighbors.

He took an active part in public affairs, in the development of his county and State, and served his people as sheriff and also as representative in the Legislature.  His advice was sought in all matters of public economy, and valued highly by many in private affairs.  He married, Nov. 25, 1873, Miss Amelia F. Cox, daughter of the late Judge C. B. Cox and Margaret Cox of Santa Rosa.  His wife survives him.

In 1888, being somewhat broken in health, he and his wife removed to California, hoping to find relaxation and length of days in the milder climate of this country, but his weakness was of such nature that neither climate nor medicine could cure, and his hope in this direction was not realized.

His attachments were strong and hearty, and there seemed to be no limit to what he would do for those whom he loved and valued as friends.  He knew no rank or sect or class, but like Abou Ben Adam [sic], “He loved his fellow men.”¹

Funeral will be from the residence at 4 o’clock P. M. to-day, following the arrival of the train from the north bearing his brother, Rev. E. L. Burnett of Mendocino City.

Service at the house will be conducted by Rev. Ben F. Sargent, and at the grave by the Grand Army of the Republic.

1.  “Abou Ben Adhem” is a poem by James Henry Leigh Hunt. In the poem, the character of Abou Ben Adhem asks the angel of God to “Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam permalink
    December 4, 2015 1:15 pm

    He may have been born in 1837.

  2. Sam permalink
    December 4, 2015 1:40 pm

    In addition to a possible discrepancy about the year of his birth, he may not have arrived in Wisconsin until 1857.

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