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Part of an old map of the San Jacinto area from the Texas Revolution

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Participant

The Kemp Sketch

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BURNAM, WILLIAM OWEN --Name not shown on the San Jacinto rolls printed in 1836.

Mr. Bunnam participated in the siege of Bexar in 1835 and was in the Grass Fight. He next served in the army from March 1 to May 30, 1336 and was a member of Captain William J. E. Heard's Company at San Jacinto, as is stated in Comptroller's Military Service Record No. 573. He was issued a Donation Certificate for 640 acres of land in 1838, for having participated in the battle. This was lost and a duplicate, No. 1243, was issued February 16, 1846. The land was surveyed in Llano, Guadalupe and Hays County by John C. Hays. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 4072 for 320 acres of land, July 17, 1838 for having served in the army from March 1 to May 13, 1836. He was living in Fayette County, August 2, 1838 when be sold the certificate to William M. Eastland for $100.00.

On August 12, 1840, Mr. Burnam participated in the battle of Plum Creek. He likewise took part in the battle of Salado Creek near San Antonio, September 18, 1842.

Mr. Burnam was born November 7, 1813 on Thick River in Tennessee, a son of Jesse and Mary Temperance (Baker) Burnam. He came to Texas in 1821, as is stated in the Headright Certificate for a league and labor of land issued to him by the Fayette County Board, February 1, 1838. The land was surveyed in Fayette County.

The compiler has been unable to learn when and where Mr. Burnam died. He was married to Carothie Zumwalt in Colorado County, August 1, 1837. He was living in Fayette County in 1845. His home on December 10, 1851 was in Gonzales when he sold lots situated in the town of La Grange, Fayette County. The Deed Records of Burnet County Book H, page 495, show that on June 18, 1866 his home was in Burnet County.

William O. Burnam No. 233, Jan 20, 1860 (Memorials and Petitions)

To the Honbl. the Legislature of the State of Texas.

The petition of William O. Burnam now a citizen of Burnet County in your State would represent to your Honorable bodies.-

That in Company with his father he emigrated to the wilderness of the new State of Texas in 1822 & that his father Jesse Burnam was one of the first of the original three hundred that settled in Austin's Colony & begun to improve the country & reclaim it, from its barbarous State.--from 1830 up to 1835. Your petitioner was almost constatly with arms in his hands either in protecting his fathers family while they were cultivating the soil or else in Company with a few neighbors in pursuit of the Indians who were constantly plundering & murdering the colonists.

In 1835 when that glorious Struggle was begun which terminated in freeing this happy land from thraldom & in driving from the Soil of Texas forever the Minions of that, dark despotism which had so long fettered the friends of human freedom and also in annexing Texas to the United States. from the beginning to the end of the Struggle your petitioner was an active participant in it. He heard in his march the thunder of the enemy's Cannon, when the gallant, Travis & his band of Martyred patriot's were butchered by a Savage foe. He was engaged in fight on the plains of San Jacinto where the Flag of Federal Mexico was lowered before the Banner of the Lone Star.--in the interim too between the Storming of Bexar & the Battle of San Jacinto he was constantly engaged in Active Service & after that time up to annexation he was almost Constantly engaged in fight or at least in the field either to repel the invasions of the Mexicans or in pursuit of Indians who had robbed the frontier Settlement from 1822 to the present time. Your petitioner represents that he has been of the pioneer of the Republic. Always far in advance of the great tide of civilization its forerunner & blazes out the way for the settlements of the white man.

All the Services which he rendered in the great historical conflicts are matters of record and can be found by reference to the Muster rolls of the Storming of Bexar or the Battle of San Jacinto for the Statement as to the Indian fights he would refer to those famous Indian fighters. The Hon. Henry McCulloch now a Senator & Gov. Tom Green Clark Supreme Court & I refer also to Hon. John W. Dancy late a member of the House from Fayette County.

Your petitioner would represent that in an Indian fight in 1837 near the Southern edge of Gonzales County he was Shot with an Indian arrow through the left Shoulder so as to Separate the joint. the wound was a Severe one and it was many months before your petitioner received even partially the use of this limb and thus from that time to the present Suffered great pain from it & has at times lost the entire use almost of his left arm.

For all his Services he has drawn but $15.50 in money, but has obtained his bounty 320 acres and headright for a portion of his Services. but for the fact no roll was kept & the discharge has been lost. Any facts that it is required to substantiate before your Honorable body. in relation to the to the fact your petitioner has the proof or can furnish sufficient evidence of the same.

Promises considered he asks that a bill may be passed granting him a League & Labor of land for his wound & incurred & for his Services for which he was never compensated at all.--

And your petitioner will ever pray &c.

Wm. 0. Burnam


1.Burnham came from England to America before the Revolution, and he settled first in Maryland, moving later to Virginia, and later still to Kentucky. His wife, Diana Owen, was born in Wales, and died near Shelbyville, Tenn., in 1810. (She and her children had moved there after the death of her husband.) They had seven children-one daughter and six sons, of whom the youngest:

2.Jesse, born in Madison Co. Ky. the 15th. day of September, 1792, died 1883 in Burnet County, Texas. Married Sept. 6, 1810 about the time of his Mother's death Mary Temperance Nails, Nall, or Knall (Baker b. Feb. 22, 1798)

3.William Owen Burnham, son of Jesse and Temperance, born in Kentucky Nov. 7th, 1811, died (murdered and robbed supposedly by Mexicans and buried at Casas Grandes en route from Mexico) March 5, 1871; married in Texas in 1836, Caroline Zumwalt, born in Missouri 1818, died in Abilene, Texas (at the home of her daughter Nancy (see below) in 1895. (Said to have been one of Deaf Smith's scouts during War for Texas Independence. And had land grants.)

4.Nancy Caton Burnham, daughter of "Billy 0." and Caroline, born in Texas, June 12, 1846, died in Corpus Christi, Texas Sept. 11, 1917, buried beside her Mother at Abilene, Texas. Married in Mexico (whither her Father and Mother had moved following the War Between the States, rather than take the oath of allegiance to The United States) Oct. 18, 1866. George Putnam Cleveland, born 1841, died 1919.

5.Charles Dexter Cleveland, son of Nancy and George P., born in Burnet Co., Texas.

(W. O. Burnam's original headright was located, we think, at Comanche Spring or Springs and later exchanged for one in Burnet County)

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.

Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Rank: Private
  • Company: Capt. William J. E. Heard

Personal Statistics

  • Alternate Names: Burnham
  • Date of Birth: 1813 Nov 7 (1811?)
  • Birthplace: Tennessee, Duck River
  • Came to Texas: 1821
  • Date of Death: 1871 Mar 5
  • Other Battles: Bexar
  • Bounty Certificate: 4072
  • Donation Certificate: 1243
  • Wife: Caroline Zumwalt
  • Children: Nancy Caton Burnham Cleveland
  • Family at San Jacinto: Brother John Hickerson Burnam at San Jacinto