Burchards Were Caught Up In Adventist Trial In Rhea County

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - by John Wilson

Many Burchards who still reside at Soddy Daisy are descendants of Hamilton Burchard, who survived the ordeal of Andersonville Prison during the Civil War.

The Birchards (the original spelling) were among the earliest settlers of New England, arriving in 1635. The family traces its origins to Thomas Birchard, who was born in 1595 at Fairsted, England.  His parents were William Birchard and Catherine Finch.  Thomas Birchard married Mary Robinson, daughter of the Rev. Henry Robinson and Elizabeth Orvice, daughter of the Rev. John Orvice, rector at Terling, England. 

Thomas Birchard sailed in the Ruelove for America with his wife and their eight children, Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah, Susannah, John, Thomas, Deborah and Hannah.  They left London on Sept. 20, 1635, and landed in Boston.  The family first resided at Boston, then moved to Hartford, Conn, where Thomas Birchard was an original proprietor.

John Birchard in 1653 married Chrystian Andrews.  He was an original proprietor and the first town clerk at Norwich, Conn.  John Birchard was also magistrate and clerk of the county court.  He was deputy to the General Court of Connecticut in 1691 - as his father had been 40 years before.  John Birchard had many dealings with the Indians of the region, and he was one of 16 legatees to whom the Indian Joshua left 48,000 acres.  He was one of four proprietors to whom Owenico, sachem of the Mohegans, transferred the "Five Mile Purchase.''

Samuel Birchard, one of the sons of John Birchard, was the great-great-grandfather of Sophia Birchard, who married Rutherford Hayes Jr.  Their son, Rutherford Birchard Hayes, became President of the United States.

James Birchard, another son of John Birchard, married Elizabeth Beckwith in 1696 and lived at Norwich.  Their son, John A. Birchard, married Jane Hyde in 1728.  Their son, John Birchard, was a blacksmith who married Anna Barker in 1759.  At the start of the Revolution, John and Anna Birchard were living at Granby, Mass., and it was decided the father should stay with the family and the 15-year-old son, Jabez, should join the Patriot army.  Jabez was allowed to go with the troops to Boston.  It was said that one day while Gen. George Washington was reviewing the troops, "he noticed at the end of the line a tall, handsome, ruddy-faced boy.  Washington asked his orderly who the boy was and he answered he did not know.  Washington said, 'Go and tell him to come here.'  He left the ranks and went with the officer out onto the commons, where Washington sat on his horse.  The General asked him his age, which he gave;  then he asked him why he was in the army, and he told him the condition of the family and the circumstances.  When Washington came in, he told him he wanted just such a boy as he was to bring out and hold his horse and carry his letters and dispatches, and do various odd jobs.'' 

Jabez Burchard (the spelling changed at this time) thus served for a short time as an orderly to George Washington, and he afterwards fought with the 4th Massachusetts Regiment.  After the close of the war, he married Lucinda Barton, daughter of his former captain.  They had seven sons and four daughters and settled on the old Baron Steuben estate in Oneida County, N.Y.  Jabez Burchard was a blacksmith and he also operated a furnace and plow factory.  He was a patron of Colgate University and attended its earliest commencement.

One of his sons, Horace Seaver Burchard, married Susan Hamilton, and they resided at Hamilton, N.Y.  He was a forage master for the Union Army during the Civil War.  His eldest son, Hamilton Burchard, went to Colgate University.  Then he taught school, was a farmer and "was a great reader.''  Early in life, he decided to move South and settled at Smith's Crossroads (Dayton) in Rhea County.  He married Jane C. Gothard in 1851. 

At the start of the war, the Confederates imprisoned Hamilton Burchard for two weeks in Rhea County. Later, his father and brother (Horace Burchard Jr.) are said to have visited him, found the men who had put him in jail, and "made them pay for it.''

The children of Hamilton and Jane Burchard were Horace who died young, George Hamilton who married Therza Standfield, Lucie E. who married Moses Bottomlee and moved to Birmingham, Susan who died young, William S. who married Anna L. Dye, Henry F. who married Martha McPherson, Gertrude who married Edward Henderson, and S. Caroline who married H. Wolfe and moved to Oregon. 

Henry F. Burchard was killed by falling slate in a coal mine at Mineral Springs, Ala., on March 3, 1902.  His children were Mary Jane who married Robert Green, Horace Seaver who married Emma Wilson, Eva Lillian who married Henry Howeley, Winnifred who married Napoleon Wilson, Grant who married Rachel Brackett, Esther Buell, and Ruth Alma.

George Hamilton Burchard and William S. Burchard lived near Graysville, Tn., at the Rhea-Hamilton line and were Seventh Day Adventists.  William Burchard worked five days a week in the Dayton Coal and Iron Co. mines, went to church on Saturdays, and on Sundays caught up on work around his home.  However, in late 1894, the sheriff of Rhea County arrested W.S. Burchard and several of his fellow Adventists on charges of violating the Sabbath.  Burchard was charged with stripping fodder and helping to dig a well on Sunday.  Others were charged with such crimes as putting chicken wire around a garden or carrying a few boards.  The trial of the Adventists at Dayton in March of 1895 was covered by newspapers across the country, and many editors sided with them.  William Burchard pleaded not guilty, contending the Bible says Saturday is the Sabbath.  The defendants were convicted, given fines of $2.50 each, and prison sentences of 20 to 76 days.  After serving this term in a two-story house attached to the jail, Burchard and several others were re-indicted.  This time they were convicted and assigned in the heat of July 1895 to a chain gang along with real "criminals.''  The Adventist community at Graysville eventually dissipated, but it was firmly re-established across the county at Collegedale, where Southern College was built.

The children of George Hamilton Burchard were Minnie Alice who married Dow Pool, Walter Anderson who married Anna Fitzgerald, Riley P. who married Rose Tother, Cora Ann, Jennie Pearl who married Frank Boyd, and James William. 

The children of William S. Burchard were Hattie B., Lillie F. who married James Olinger, Ancil D. who married Ethel Dacus, Herchel H. who married Lula Cheeks, Lenora O., Celia M., Arnold A. who married Carrie Wilson, Edith Katherine, Glenn Ishmael, Grace V., Wallace H., Buell H. and Blain E.

Carlos Wilson, who worked in the county engineer's office, is descended from Henry F. Burchard.  He kept a copy of the Burchard family history.

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