Harry Wallace Burnham and His Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

H W Burnham

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I love finding these interesting stories that help round out what can be very boring genealogy research. In my current project of double checking and expanding my past Burnham research, I was looking in to the family of Wolcott H. Burnham who was born in Vermont in 1820 and whom moved his family west. Wolcott settled in Wisconsin, however, his son Col. William A. Burnham settled in South Dakota. William’s son, Harry, is the subject of this amusing tale.

Harry was married around 1890 to Edna Dean Foster. They lived in Groton, Brown, South Dakota where Harry was in the “Druggist” business with his father. They had two children, William Audley Burnham, b. 1891, and Marie, b. 1894. On July 4, 1894, while Edna and the children were away visiting in Wisconsin, Harry made the horrible decision to run away with a 17 year old girl. Harry and the two Hayes sisters (they never name either sister) checked in to a hotel in Aberdeen, South Dakota as “Mr. H. Wallace, wife and sister, Minneapolis”. Supposedly, the younger sister drove the carriage back to Groton. The article goes on to describe both fathers heading out in search of the couple. The term “fire in his eyes” is used.

At the end of the article, there is an almost anti-climatic paragraph announcing that Harry and his parents had returned to Groton. It seems that Miss Hayes had smartened up and left him on the road.

I found later small newspaper snippets that mentions that Edna and the children returned to an empty house in August 1894. It seems that Harry high tailed it to St. Paul, Minnesota. Later in August it was said that Edna and the children were following Harry and would attempt a reconciliation. I found Harry, Edna and the two children in Ramsey, St. Paul in 1895 Minnesota State Census. Harry was working as a druggist. So the reconciliation must have worked out for a short time. Harry was married to a second wife, Minnie, in 1903. They had one son, Clifford, born in 1904. The family lived in Groton, Brown, South Dakota in 1910. Harry was a druggist.

In 1920, Harry was divorced and living in Seattle, Washington. In 1930, Harry was married to his 3rd wife, Emma Hill, and living in Los Angeles.

It looks as if while Harry escaped real trouble from his “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”, he doesn’t seem to have had a lot of luck with the ladies from then on in.

Update:
Click here for ANOTHER wild story of Harry’s poor treatment of his first wife, Edna:H. W. Burnham Held at Gunpoint by Wronged Wife

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