Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Burnette and Cobb Families Link

One branch of the Burnette family of Union County, Georgia descends from William Mark Burnette (1848-1939) and Martha Holcombe Burnette who migrated from Buncombe County, North Carolina to the Ivy Log section of Union County, Georgia about 1898. The Burnettes came from England to America in the early 1700s and eventually settled in the mountains of North Carolina.

William Mark Burnette as a young man worked on building the famed Biltmore House near Asheville. As America's most notable mansion became a prime tourist attraction, Mr. Burnette enjoyed telling his children and grandchildren about his work helping to erect the mansion.

William Mark and Martha Burnette had eleven children. Martha died in North Carolina in 1894. When the youngest child, Mark Hampton (born in 1886 in Buncombe County) was twelve years old, his father decided to migrate to Union County, Georgia. They settled in the Ivy Log section of the county.

William Mark Burnette, no doubt saddened by the death of his dear Martha in 1894, was known as a "strict and austere" man. He began making syrup in Ivy Log. His was one of the early sorghum syrup mills in that section of Union. He had a productive farm and his children had to work hard to assist in tilling the land. Mr. Burnette got the mail route, carrying the US mail by mule back between the scattered area post offices.

Strict in discipline and against "the wiles of the devil," Mr. Burnette forbade his children to play cards or to dance.

Music was a part of the Burnette children's upbringing. In their home they had a pump organ, a Jew's harp, and a harmonica. Four of the sons, Monroe, Reid, Ernest and Mark, became good at harmonizing and formed a quartet. They were often invited to sing at area churches, at homecoming services, at all-day singings at the court house and other places, and at dinners-on-the ground. Monroe Burnette composed lyrics and music to songs and had some of his gospel songs published. If any of you readers happen to own a copy of Monroe Burnette's music, count yourself fortunate.

The youngest child, named Mark Hampton (known by his first name Mark) met the lovely Burdetta Cobb and they were married in 1909. She was one of two children born to the Rev. James Wesley Cobb (1837-1922) and Martha Thomas Cobb (known as "Aunt Patty" - 1843-1920).

This union of Mark Burnette and Burdetta Cobb brought together two notable families of Union County.

The early Cobbs in America had migrated from Ireland about 1755. Jasper Edward Cobb had three sons. One of them, John Paul Cobb, joined the Revolutionary War forces under the famed "Swamp Fox," General Francis Marion. John Paul survived the Revolution and moved his family to North Carolina. There his first wife died, leaving him four small children. He married a widow, Lydia Keys Mullen, and moved to Burke County, North Carolina. John Paul and Lydia Cobb had one child whom they named William Alfred Cobb. He married Charlotte Henson. This couple became parents of Burdetta Cobb's father, the Rev. James Wesley Cobb.

James Wesley Cobb was an itinerant Methodist minister traveling to his churches on horseback or by foot. He preached not "for hire," but received gratefully whatever the parishioners gave him in apples, potatoes, chickens, grains and other farm products. He often had these goods strapped across his horse as he returned home. One year, the ladies of one of his churches decided to make Rev. Cobb and his wife, "Aunt Patty," a quilt. They got together and pieced and quilted it and gave it as a Christmas gift.

During the Civil War, James Wesley Cobb joined the Confederate Army and saw action at the Battle of Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga. He received a shot in his jaw, but thankfully had a chew of tobacco in his mouth at the time and the tobacco stopped the bullet.

James Wesley Cobb's wife, Martha Thomas Cobb, was a noted midwife and practical nurse. She attended many women in her community and beyond at the time of childbirth. She also knew practical herbal remedies, and nursed many through a raging typhoid epidemic. Mark Burnette often told children and grandchildren that he owed his life to his wife's mother, dear "Aunt Patty," who nursed him through his serious bout with typhoid. The graves of James Wesley (1837-1922) and Martha Cobb (1843-1920) can be seen in the New Hope Cemetery in Union County.

Mark Hampton Burnette and Burdetta Cobb Burnette moved from Union County, Georgia to Fannin County shortly after their marriage in 1909. Mark was employed by Tennessee Copper Company at a daily wage of $1.00. Because of his affiliation with the Union to secure better working conditions, he was released from his job. He became a house painter and floor finisher.

Burdetta died in 1966 and Mark in 1967. Both were buried in the Crestlawn Cemetery, McCaysville, Ga

Ty Cobb of baseball fame was a cousin of Burdetta Cobb Burnette. Many descendants of the Burnette and Cobb families still reside in the mountain regions of Georgia, North and South Carolina and Tennessee. This is just one of the many stories that could be written about these families.

c 2007 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 8, 2007 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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