Family Matters

Granddaughter Flora talks about Major Ben
(As told to the newspaper in 1953 by Flora Burgin, daughter of Robt. H. Burgin)

#152345 Flora Burgin Smith

Flora Angeline Burgin was born March 24, 1862 in McDowell County, North Carolina. She was the youngest of the three children born to Robert Hoard Burgin and Catherine "Kate" Burgin, d/o James and Leah Burgin. Robert already had two children by a previous marriage to Zilla Williams, who died circa 1855/56.

Flora married George Sherman Smith on August 14, 1884 and in 1888 they were among the twenty adults who, along with their children, set out for the "New Frontier" on a special train bound for Texas. Joseph Benjamin Burgin (son of Alney) worked for the railroad and had organized this special trip.

Flora died in Bonham, Texas on June 4, 1961, at the age of ninety-nine, but her spirit lives on. She was a vibrant, energetic lady whose strong personality was enlivened by her active interest in current events in her community and around the county.

She told her children many facinating stories of the folks back home in Carolina and of the conditions and events in and around Old Fort, during the period following the Civil War.

In her book, Peggy Silvers says, "Her words printed in a newspaper interview in 1953, are a direct link to the past, giving us a brief glimpse into that era that no 'records' could provide." Here is partially what Flora had to say about Major Ben Burgin:

"My grandfather was Major Ben Burgin who fought in the War of 1812. He was also a surveyor. I remember my grandfather as I was ten years of age when he died. He had a big three-story house that was hewn out of logs. There were big fireplaces throughout the house. There were banisters around the porches, upstairs and downstairs too.

There were two big barns on the place with stalls for dozens of horses. I remember the big apple orchard with shrubs and flowers all around the place. He owned several hundred acres of bottom land. He was a tall good looking man and walked with a cane. He died at the age of ninety-six."

It is said that he was never drunk. He refused to drink with Governor Graham when he was a member of the state legislature. And upon entering the church door he would remove his hat and keep it off until he came out.

He kept his own secrets. At one time, he had twenty-one law suits and gained them all. He would ride to Morganton to see his lawyer, gather and never tell anyone his business. In riding he would keep his position, not hanging on this side and that. In traveling, he would not drink water, but coffee. These words tell us a great deal about Benjamin's character

Dr. G.W. Michael, in a letter written to Lyman C. Draper, dated October 26, 1880, described Major Ben as "a man of unblemished character, scrupulously exact in all his statements."

And as Peggy Silvers writes: "He obviously took a firm stand on what he believed to be right and virtuous and had little patience for anything else. Why else would there be no mention of his son John, or John's children in his will? Was it disenchantment with sons Robert, Ben Logan and Josiah that caused him to write a codicil to his will in 1862, revoking part of his will and skipping over his sons, giving their part of the inheritance to their wives and children?"

Source: Peggy Silvers, Echoes In The Mist (The Burgin Family 1677 - 1989)
A PRESS Printing Company 1989