Burrus Cemetery and a Little History

Froe Chips, January/February 2019, by Carol Robertson White

There are two Burrus family cemeteries in Rutherford County. One Burrus cemetery is nestled dab smack in the middle of Cherry Lane Acres, with residential homes built all around. The cemetery is guarded by an iron fence and was restored years ago by a resident that lived in the neighborhood.

There are eight memorials listed in this cemetery. Joseph Burrus, son of Charles and Sarah (Woolfolk) Burrus and 4th great grandfather of my husband Walter White, born July 26, 1762 in Amherst County, Virginia.

Nothing is known about his education, but he was reared on his parent’s plantation in Virginia. At a very young age, he enlisted as a volunteer in the American Revolution, and served as a private at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown.

Mr. Burrus married, Sophia Rucker (b. 1775 and died 1835), also buried in this cemetery, daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Bennett) Rucker, of Amherst County, Virginia on January 9, 1792. He was several times a member of the House of Burgesses of the State of Virginia. Upon arriving in Tennessee in 1807, Joseph and Sophia Burrus resided for a while in Hawkins County, Tennessee. However, upon the advice of Gen. Jackson, he purchased lands on Stones River, and operated a plantation in the Walter Hill Quadrangle of Rutherford County.

On the 1809 tax list of Rutherford County, Joseph Burrus owned 27 slaves and 1550 acres. On the 1810 census of the county, Joseph Burrus is the largest slave owner in the county, owning 37 slaves. Ten children were born to their union; some in Virginia and some after emigrating to Tennessee. His offspring intermarried with prominent families in Tennessee and other States. His descendants are numerous, several of whom have figured with credit and ability in the political history of the southern States. Joseph Burrus died on January 14, 1821 and is buried in the Burrus family cemetery. This cemetery, once part of his plantation, is now part of Cherry Acres Subdivision located on Cider Drive.

He has a tall, beautiful stone engraved with a floral arrangement. He was well liked in the community. William S. Speer, Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans (1888) described Joseph Burrus as “a man of very positive convictions, of the highest order of morality, and of cultivated tastes.” His tombstone inscription states, “Honored in public and private life for his spotless and Christian virtues. Three of Joseph and Sophia Burrus’s children are also buried here: Charles D. Burrus (1795-1818), Lucy Ann Burrus (1804-1824), and William C. J. Burrus (1815-1859).

The Second Burrus Cemetery is located off Asbury Road on land belonging to LaFayette Burrus, son of Joseph and Sophia Rucker Burrus above, and 3rd great grandparents of my husband Walter White. Special thanks to James Allen Gooch for cleaning up this cemetery for us.

Lafayette Burrus was born in Amhurst County, Virginia on November 21, 1797 and migrated with his family to Tennessee in 1807. On June 28, 1820, Lafayette (age 22) married Elizabeth “Eliza” Ready (age 14) in Rutherford County, TN. Eliza was the daughter of Charles Ready and Mary Palmer Ready of Readyville, Cannon County, TN. The Battle of Stones River took place on their land and Eliza Ready Burrus is pointed out in many Battlefield maps and referred to as the Widow Burrus.

Lafayette, also known as Fayette and Eliza Ready Burrus had several children. The sons were so handsome and the daughters so beautiful that Elisabeth Howse Ridley referred to them in her book, Falling Leaves as the Beautiful Burruses of Rutherford County!

There are only five graves in the Burrus Cemetery off Asbury Road. Lafayette Burrus and Eliza Ready Burrus as well as the following children: Martha Burrus (b. 1833, d. 1854), Ophelia Maria Burrus Palmer (b. 1835, d. 1856), first wife of Brigadier General Joseph Benjamin Palmer, and Robert Augustus Burrus (b. 1836-1879).

The home of Fayette and Eliza Ready Burrus that served as a hospital during the Battle of Stones River is still standing way off the road on Asbury Road. You have to look carefully to see the house and the little family cemetery as it stands peacefully some distance from the family home.

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