Paul L. Dunbar's Mother's FamilyPaul L. Dunbar's parents were both from Kentucky. His father, Joshua Dunbar, was born in Garrard County and enslaved in Shelby County. His mother, Matilda Jane Burton Murphy Dunbar, was born in Fayette County and enslaved to David Glass in Shelby County. Both Joshua and Matilda would leave Kentucky taking very different paths in life before coming together in Dayton, OH. Matilda Burton Murphy and Joshua Dunbar were married in Dayton on December 23, 1871 (Ancestry). Their children Paul and Elizabeth were born in Dayton. Matilda had two older children, William T. Murphy and Robert S. Murphy. See the Matilda Dunbar entry in the NKAA Database for more information about her life and her children.
* Willis and Eliza Burton were the parents of Matilda Dunbar. No information has been found for Willis Burton at this time. Eliza Burton left Kentucky and lived in Dayton, OH. She had been an enslaved woman and it is not known how she gained her freedom. She was listed on p.67 in Williams' Dayton Directory for 1862-63. She was living at 47 Howard Street. Eliza Burton, a widow, lived with Matilda Dunbar and her family at 311 Howard Street as early as 1873. Eliza Burton is last listed on p.99 of Williams' Dayton City Directory for 1876-7. Elizabeth and Willis' other children were Ann Burton Scott, Rebecca Burton Voss, Priscilla Burton Washington, Robert Burton, John Burton, and Alexander Burton.
* Ann M. Burton Scott, 1830? - June 8, 1933, was born in Lexington, KY. She was enslaved and was not sure of her exact birthdate. Ann Burton was twice married before becoming a free woman. She is first listed in the 1870 US Census as Ann Burton who lived in Lexington, KY, with her brother Alexander Burton who was a shoemaker. In the 1880 U.S. Census, both Ann Scott and Matilda Burton were enumerated as living with their sister Priscilla and her family. The home was at 211 Corral Street, and that was the same address for Ann Scott when she was listed on p.166 of Williams' Lexington City Directory for 1881-82. In the 1900 U.S. Census, Ann Scott was said to be about 74 years old. Her sister Priscilla had died and Ann Scott was living in the home at 66 Corral Street with her brother-in-law George Washington (Priscilla's widow) and his family. Ann Scott was employed as a servant. In the 1920 U.S. Census, Anne Scott was the homeowner at 368 Corral Street and her niece, Lula Washington Dunham, her husband Henry Dunham, and their three daughters were also living in the home. [Lula was Priscilla's daughter.] Ann M. Scott died in 1933 and it was thought that she was about 100 years old. She died at her home on Deweese Street. She is buried in African Cemetery #2.
Sources: Ancestry; "Aged Colored citizen dies; was poet's aunt," Lexington Leader, 06/09/1933, p.18.
* Alexander Burton, February 1839 - April 28, 1897, was born in Fayette County, KY. He was a veteran of the U.S. Civil War having served with the 12th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery Unit. He enlisted at Camp Nelson, KY. On his military record, Alexander Burton listed William Burton in Lincoln County, KY, as his owner. After the war, Alex Burton was a shoemaker in Lexington, KY, as listed on p.44 in Maydwell's Lexington City Directory for 1867. Burton had an account (#642) at the Lexington Freedman's Bank (Ancestry). On his bank application, he named his parents Willis and Eliza Burton and named his siblings Robert, Ann, and Priscilla. Alexander Burton lived with his sister at 211 Corral Street in Lexington, according to the 1870 U.S. Census. Alex was the husband of Mattie E. Burton and the couple had two children (John and Emma). The family was enumerated in the 1880 U.S. Census when they were living in Boyle County, KY. In 1897, Alex Burton died of tuberculosis at 66 Corral Street in Lexington, KY, according to the Lexington Certificate of Death (Ancestry). He is buried in African Cemetery #2. Mrs. Eliza Burton (wife of Fate Burton) was appointed the administrator of Alex Burton's estate. She purchased the home at 211 Corral Street.
Sources: U.S. Descriptive Lists of Colored Volunteer Army Soldiers (Ancestry); Alexander Burton Military Record (Fold3); Alexander Burton at Find A Grave; "In the Circuit Court ...," The Morning Herald, 07/23/1897, p.5; "Real estate transfers," The Morning Herald, 01/26/1898, p.3.
* Robert M. Burton, March 4, 1843 - January 8, 1914, was born in Lexington, KY. He was a U.S. Civil War veteran and settled in Dayton, OH, around 1866, according to his death notice in The Dayton Herald. In the 1870 U.S. Census, Robert Burton was employed as a hostler. In the next census, in 1880, he was employed as a whitewasher and he was in the laundry business. He was married to Annie Elizabeth Lucas Burton. The couple had one daughter, Dora Burton Rice. Robert M. Burton owned his home in 1900 and would own his laundry business according to the 1910 U.S. Census. He was a leading member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Dayton, was one of the church incorporators in 1911, and served as a church trustee. Robert M. Burton died suddenly of a heart ailment in 1914. He is buried in the Woodland Cemetery.
Sources: "Obituary: Mr. Robert M. Burton ...," The Dayton Herald, 01/09/1914, p.27; Ohio, U.S. Soldier Grave Registrations (Ancestry); "Church incorporates," The Dayton Herald, 05/15/1911, p.6; see Robert M. Burton at Find A Grave; Ohio U.S. Death Records (Ancestry).
* Matilda Jane Burton Murphy Dunbar, October 5, 1845? - February 24, 1934. See her NKAA Database entry.
* Rebecca Borden Burton Voss, 1847? - November 19, 1935, was born in Lexington, KY. She spent most of her adult life in Dayton, OH. She was the wife of Moses Voss who was a whitewasher from Tennessee, according to the 1880 U.S. Census. He was also a U.S. Civil War veteran. Rebecca was the mother of Anna Spencer and Ella Voss. She became a widow when Moses died in 1897. In 1913, Rebecca B. Voss lived on 5th Street in Dayton, OH. The street address was given in the Lexington Leader newspaper inquiry by J. F. Burton who had not heard from his siblings in Dayton, OH. In the 1900 U.S. Census, Rebecca B. Voss was employed as a washerwoman. In the 1920 U.S. Census, she owned her home at 295 Willard Street in Dayton. Rebecca Borden Burton Voss was said to be 89-years-old when she died at the Ohio State Mission Home in Dayton in 1935. She was buried in Woodland Cemetery.
Sources: Ancestry; Rebecca Voss at Find A Grave; "J. F. Burton, colored, ...," Sunday Lexington Leader, 03/05/1913, p.3; "Aunt of Dunbar poet is dead," The Dayton Daily News, 11/21/1935, p.29.
* Priscilla Burton Washington, 1849?-1900?, was born in Lexington, KY. She was one of the servants in the home of Hiram Shaw when she was enumerated in the 1870 U.S. Census. In 1872, she married George Washington who was a carpenter. The couple lived at 211 Corral Street in Lexington, KY. George Washington is named on p.108 in R. C. Hellrigle & Co.'s Lexington City Directory and Gazetteer, 1877-78, and on p.196 in Williams' Lexington City Directory for 1881-82. Priscilla and George Washington are enumerated in the 1880 U.S. Census. In 1900, George Washington is enumerated as a widow in the census, and it is noted that George and Priscilla had been married for 28 years. Priscilla Burton Washington's exact death date is not known, but based on information in the census record, it is estimated that she died in 1900. Her husband, George, and four children are enumerated in the 1900 U.S. Census. Also living in the home on Corral Street was George's son-in-law, Thomas McGee, and Priscilla's sister Ann M. Scott.
* John F. Burton, 1859? - May 8, 1922, was a tailor on South Mill Street in Lexington, KY. He was a porter when listed on p.42 of Williams' Lexington City Directory for 1881-82. He was the husband of Maria Williams Burton. The couple lived at 720 Georgetown Street. They were the parents of Ella, Julia, and Edward, according to the 1900 U.S. Census. John F. Burton was an active member of the African American community in Lexington. He was often a court-appointed appraiser to evaluate the estates of African Americans who had died. In 1896, he was chosen as the tailoring instructor at the Colored Orphan Industrial Home in Lexington. In 1898, John F. Burton arranged for a Colored Oratorical Contest at the Lexington Colored Fair. A couple of months later, John F. Burton was the business manager of the group of African American men who formed the Lexington Oratorical Contest with the winner going on to compete at the state level. Burton was also considered "the local manager of all things theatrical" in the African American Community. He organized programs, sold tickets, and oversaw various performances and entertainments. Burton was a baritone singer and also performed in local productions. He was a member of the Afro-American Amusement Company. In 1903, John F. Burton was a board member of the newly incorporated Lexington Midsummer Fair Carnival Association (with no affiliation to the Colored Agricultural Mechanical Association). Mrs. Maria H. Burton, the wife of John F. Burton, died in December of 1904. In 1913, John F. Burton had a notice in the Sunday Morning Lexington Leader enquiring about his siblings in Dayton: Matilda Dunbar, Rebecca Voss, and Robert Burton. John had also written his son Edward Burton in Chicago to ask him to locate their relatives. John F. Burton had given up his tailoring business in 1920 when he became the proprietor of the Douglass Park Cafe. Two years later, John F. Burton became ill during the first days of May 1922. He died on May 8th and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Sources: Ancestry; "A good work ... Colored orphans," The Morning Herald, 01/08/1896, p.5; see John F. Burton "In Colored Notes," Lexington Leader, 09/10/1900, p.7; "Big Production: was that of the Colored "Cinderella" last night," The Leader, 06/06/1895, p.4; "J. F. Burton: arranging for a colored oratorical contest," The Morning Herald, 07/08/1898, p.2; "Hard Fight: in the colored primary oratorical contest," The Morning Herald, 09/06/1898, p.3; "Ader Concert Company," Lexington Leader, 09/16/1900, p.2; Daisy Fitzhugh Ayres, "Dunbar's 'Clorinda'," Lexington Leader, 09/10/1901, p.5; "Colored People: organize a new fair association and will compete with old one," Lexington Leader, 09/25/1903, front page; "Colored: Death of Mrs. J. F. Burton," Lexington Leader, 12/27/1904, p.7; "J. F. Burton, colored, ..." Sunday Morning Lexington Leader, 04/06/1913, p.3; "Colored Notes: John F. Burton," The Lexington Leader, 05/08/1922, p.2; "Douglas[s] Park Cafe," The Lexington Herald, 12/26/1920, Section 4-Jubliee Section, p.6.