|Jacob Burrus, Jr
Caroline County, Virginia
Jacob Burruss, Jr, was born in 1714 in King William County, Virginia, in that
portion that became Caroline County. There are conflicting dates for his birth, but
what appears prevalent is October 14, 1714 (1)
Jacob was one of nine children, born to Jacob Burruss,Sr., and his wife Mary.
Jacob, Jr. grew up on an unpretnentious plantation on property located close to
present day Cedar Fork Road, Route 601, and Route 1 in Caroline County. Jacob
and his siblings were educated according to acceptable practices for the times. The
girls were taught to read and write. The boys were educated in a manner necessary,
to be able to carry out family and community business. Because there were no public
schools, the boys were educated by private professors. There were several home
schools in Caroline County, and in surrounding counties.
Farming, even with slave labor, was hard work. Certainly Jacob Burruss, Jr grew up
sharing in the day-to-day chores necessary to keep the family plantation successful.
When Jacob's father died in 1755, he left his son a young mare, a cow and yearling,
and two ewes (2) Jacob's brothers,Thomas and Charles Burruss received 272 acres
and the homeplace plantation, respectively in their father's Jacob Sr's will. The other
male children likely received properties of equal value when they married, prior to
their father's will bequests. For reasons lost to time, it was Jacob, Jr. who lived on
the plantation bequeathed to his brother Charles. Perhaps it was because Charles
relocated to Amherst County with his family.
According to a journal kept by Henry Burruss, Jacob's grandson, Jacob Burruss, Jr.
married Martha Harris.(3) Martha was the daughter of William and Elizabeth
Burnett Harris. The exact year of Jacob and Martha's marriage isn't known, but
occurred between 1740-1744. In 1745, Martha gave birth to a son John Burruss.
This son would become one of the first Baptist preachers in Virginia. On February
18, 1746/47 their son, William was born. The third son Charles Burruss was born in
Where Jacob and Martha first made their home isn't known, but most likely it was
on property adjoining his parents, given to Jacob, Jr., when he married. Property
owners in Caroline County were responsible for the upkeep and building of roads.
Like his father before him, Jacob was appointed overseer of the roads. (5) Jacob was
well respected in his community. This is evidenced by the fact that his name appears
in the county order books as a person who was called on to assist in the appraising of
estates, was a frequent witness to legal documents, and was asked to value property
His grandfather John built a grist mill on polecat creek. Jacob Burruss, Sr., and later
Jacob Burruss,Jr continued to operate the mill. As a miller, Jacob would have been
well known by his neighbors. Millers provided a much needed service most often,
without charge. Sometimes a payment of a sack of flour or corn meal, was accepted
if offered. As his neighbors came to his Polecat Creek mill, the talk would have kept
Jacob current with the goings-on in the County.
In July 1775, three years before his death, the aging Jacob Burruss, Jr. deeded 230
acres for love and affection, along with the grist mill, to his son John Burruss. It is
assumed Jacob Sr., was physically less able to operate the mill alone. As it happened,
Jacob, Jr., outlived his son John, by a mere six months.
Jacob Burruss was married three times. The year of his first wife's death isn't
known. He was married second wife to, Susanna, sometime before June 1763, when
they were involved in an unsuccessful lawsuit against William Howard (7) In 1763,
Jacob was 39 years old. It doesn't appear he and Susanna had children.
Jacob was married a third time, to Diana, who survived him. Her name appeared in
tax records as late as 1797, almost twenty years, after Jacob's death. In 1778, Diana
renounced in court, all bequests made by Jacob Burruss in his will, seeking only her
one third share in her husband's estate. Diana was consistently credited on Tax
Records as possessing 100 acres in Caroline County.
The community surrounding the Burruss plantation consisted primarily of members
of the Established Church of England. The practice of most other religions was not
authorized in Virginia. Exactly when the first Baptist ministers came to Caroline
County, isn't known, but Jacob's son, John Burruss, was one of the first Baptists to
openly preach the faith.
In 1768, Jacob Burruss, Jr., was arrested for allowing his son to hold unauthorized
divine service and worship in his home. Neighbors and friends that attended these
services were fined by the court, five shillings, or fifty pounds of tobacco. Those
arrested included Henry Terrell, Robert Chandler, Robert Woolfolk, Thomas Bark,
James Gatewood, Thomas Terrell, Martha Nodden, Christopher Terrell, and Rachel
Terrell. These were well respected families in the County. The Terrells were Quakers,
but there is no evidence that the Golansville meeting house reprimanded them, for
their attendance at these Baptist services.
With the exception of Rachel Terrell, most of the Terrells remained Quakers. Rachel
Terrell became the wife of the preacher John Burruss, and was excommunicated for
marrying out of faith. For several years, the records show that Jacob Burruss, Jr was
brought to court for failing to open an unused road to his grist mill, and for failing to
keep his mill dam in good repair. Evidence was repeatedly submitted to the court
showing these charges invalid. It appears these charges were brought as a nuisance
and inconvenience, and done in an attempt to break up the assemblage at the Baptist
meetings held in Jacob's home (9)
Jacob's son John Burruss died in April 1778, and shortly after Jacob died. Jacob's
will was proven in the 1778 November court by Benjamin Tompkins and his
neighbor, John Hampton. (10)
1. Burruss Family Letters, James Burruss, Riverside Conn.
2. Will of Jacob Burrus, Sr., Louisa County Chancery Suit, Davis vx Burruss, 1767
3. Henry Burruss Journal, Tidewater Virginia Magazine
4. Caroline County Order Book 1759 page 9
5. Caroline County Order Book 1759 page 87 1760 page 113, 1765 page 331
6. George Harrison Sandord King Papers 1930-1985
7. CCOB 1763 page 423
8. CCOB 1778 page 134
9. Colonial Caroline, T. E. Campbell, Richmond Dietz Press, 1954
10. CCOB 1778 page 258
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