Zimry W. Burnham

Zimry W. Burnham was born 1824 in Steuben County, New York, the son of Charles (b. 1787) and Irene (b. 1791).

New York natives Charles and Irene were probably married in New York and lived there for many years before emigrating westward. Zimry (also known Z. W.) moved with his family from New York, eventually settling in western Michigan by 1850 when he was working as a carpenter and residing with his family in Grand Rapids, Kent County.

He was quite likely the same “Zimri N. Burnham” who married one Sally Patterson in Kent County on February 2, 1851; it is quite possible that they had at least two children: Warren (b. 1852) and Wayne J. (b. 1854).

By 1859-60 he was working as a carpenter and boarding at Morris Todd’s in Grand Rapids, and in 1860 Zimry was either widowed or divorced, since the census listed him as working as a carpenter and joiner and living with his two sons in Algoma, Kent County, but there is no mention of a Sally.

Zimry stood 5’8” blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 37 years old and probably still living in Algoma when he enlisted as Corporal in Company B on May 13, 1861. He was discharged for “hemorrhoids of long standing and rheumatism both of which existed previous to enlistment” on November 6, 1861, at Fort Lyon, Virginia.

After his discharge from the army Zimry returned to western Michigan and was probably living in Kent County when he married his second wife, 19-year-old Charlotte Youngblood (b. 1844) on June 29, 1862, in Kent County.

At some point Zimry moved to Nebraska where he was living in 1869 and again in 1873. During his time in Nebraska he had two more children, possibly by Charlotte: a son Laplace (b. 1869) and Martha (b. 1873).

Zimry eventually returned to Kent County and by 1880 he was working as a carpenter and living in Grand Rapids’ Fifth Ward; also living with him were his two children Laplace and Martha.

He was living in Grand Rapids in 1883 when he was violently assaulted one evening in August. At about 11:00 p.m. on Monday, August 18, “A criminal assault from the result of orchard depredations occurred.”

An old man, Zimri W. Burnham, living in the last house on Fountain Street, on the north side of the road, heard a commotion in his orchard. Going out he found four young men helping themselves to the fruit, apparently undisturbed by his presence. He had taken a hoe with him to the orchard, and in a scuffle which followed the fellows got it away from him. The noise made roused the neighbors, who ran out to the old man’s assistance. Three persons heard cries of ‘kill him’, ‘knock him down’, and similar exclamations mingled with oaths and heard one of them strike the old man with the hoe. At that occurrence and at the presence of the neighbors they ran and were pursued, one William Vanderveer being captured by Mr. David Forbes. The police were notified and Officer Groff started for the scene but met the crowd at the top of Fountain Street hill with the prisoner, whom he took and lodged in headquarters. The old man’s injuries were found to be very serious and he now lies in a precarious condition. His head is cut on the left side back of his ear very badly and he was hit on the breast with a stone. Dr. Fuller was called and cared for the unfortunate man.

Zimry eventually recovered and was either divorced or a widower when he was admitted as a single man to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home November 25, 1885 (no. 97), discharged the following April, readmitted on May 20, 1889, and again discharged in February of 1892. In 1894 he was living in Wyoming, Kent County possibly with one Charles Burnham, and he was admitted to the Home the final time on July 18, 1900.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. In 1889 he applied for and received a pension (no. 790644).

Zimry died at the Home of marasmus on July 26, 1900, and his funeral service was attended by a son and daughter-in-law. He was buried in the Home cemetery: section 4 row 9 grave no. 29