Saturday, February 18, 2012

William Harrison Burd

William Harrison Burd died on this date, February 18th, in 1942 in Monessen, PA and he was my 1st cousin 3 times removed. So why is he here on my blog? William Burd was the key that helped me find some big leads in my Burd family tree!

William Burd, or "Bill Burd" as my grandfather referred to him, lived with my great-grandparents (Maine Swank and Charles Cubbage). Bill was born on January 29, 1894 in Natrona, PA. In the 1900 census he is living with his Aunt Marian "Mary" Burd Swank, who is widowed, along with his cousins Maine and Charles Swank, and is listed as "adopted son". By 1910, Bill is living with Maine Swank, who is now married to Charles Cubbage, and their children. Bill lived with Charles and Maine Cubbage until they died in 1938 and 1939, and continued living in their home with their children afterwards. Charles and Maine had 8 children, and Bill was about 10 years older than their oldest son, Lester. Over the years, he was listed on various censuses as cousin, roomer and boarder.

This photocopy of Bill's school record, along with the photo above, was found with Cubbage memorabilia (I don't know who had the original). Bill never married and spent most of his life with the Cubbage family in Swissvale and then Monessen. He lived with them when they lost two children (Leah in 1920 and George in 1921). In Maine's letter to her sister, she mentions how upset Bill was about George's death ... he was a part of the Cubbage family. Bill was living in the Cubbage home on Reed Avenue with Marian & Marge Cubbage and Margaret Swank Speedy (Maine sister) when he died.

Bill's obituary lists the Cubbage family as his own, with no mention of his birth parents or other Burds. Bill worked for many years as a foreman at the Blast Furnace at Pittsburgh Steel.

Bill Burd is buried at Braddock (Russell) Cemetery, in the same plot as Charles & Maine Cubbage, as well as George and Leah ... his adopted family. Right next to their plots is the headstone of William Arthur Speedy, the husband of Margaret Swank Speedy (Bill's cousin).

So how did he help me find the Burds? For starters, "Burd" is often listed as "Bird" or "Byrd" and I was having problems determining which was from our family line. At first, I only knew that Bill lived with the Cubbages and that he shared a room with my grandfather, but didn't know the exact relation t the family. I sent away for his death record, and found the names of his parents, Alexander Burd and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Ryan. I was then able to tie Alexander's parents to his sister Marian "Mary" Burd (my great-great grandmother).

Alexander Burd died in 1925 in Natrona and "Lizzie" died before 1900 (Alexander is listed as a widow in that census). I do not know yet what happened to "Lizzie"or why Bill did not live with them. I wonder if Alexander wasn't able to take care of Bill when his wife died? I will be sure to share that when I figure it out, along with more about the Burd family line.

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