A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname



Notes for Stephen Baker BARNUM


Stephen Baker Barnum b. 1788-1792 in Connecticut married Martha Hill. Stephen was in the New Milford, Connecticut, census in 1810, Kent in 1820 and Litchfield in 1830. Some time in the early 1830s he changed his surname (and that of his children) to Burnham and moved to Thompsonville, Sullivan County, New York.

Stephen and Martha's children were Anna Eliza, William H., Caroline, Elbert Lovejoy, Beekman Thomas, Manley Augustus and Catherine Louise. The weight of evidence also suggests that their oldest son was John Henry Burnham, who married Maryetta Stanton, daughter of Joshua Stanton and his second wife Elizabeth Dickerson.

Although no published documentation has been found concerning Zadok Barnum's son Stephen nor Stephen Baker Barnum's parents, Stephen is reliably believed to have been a son of Zadok and Martha for the following reasons:
1) Ezra Barnum, son of Zadok, and Stephen Baker Barnum lived in New Milford, Connecticut at the same time.
2) A sister of Zadok's wife Mercy Pardee married a man named Stephen Baker.
3) Descendants of Stephen Baker Barnum have a letter from one of his sons that refers to his children's great grandfather as having fought in the Revolutionary War, as had Zadok.

According to family tradition, Stephen Baker Barnham decided as an adult that he no longer wished to have his name associated with that of his infamous third cousin Phineas Taylor "P.T." Barnum. Therefore, he changed the spelling of his surname from Barnum to Burnham. In doing so he created a unique connection between two surnames for which no other relationship has been found in the historic record. They are completely separate and distinct surnames with unique origins and meanings, and the only connection between them is the artificial one created by Stephen's name change.

Barnum is an early New England surname, having developed in the Connecticut Colony through a change in spelling of the original surname Barnham. The immigrant ancestor, Thomas Barnum (1625-1695), arrived in the English colonies of North America by 1640. The Barnum/Barnham line in England can be traced back at least as far as Sir Walter Barnham (fl. 1350), who was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Richard II (1377-1399).

Burnham is also an early New England name of English origin, with roots in New Hampshire. Walter Le Veutre came to England at the Conquest, in 1066, was made a lord in 1080 and received the Saxon village of Burnham, Norfolk, as a part of his estate. He assumed the name Walter de Burnham after the manor, thus beginning the usage of that surname.

A further indication of the Barnum/Burnham connection created by Stephen's name change has been provided by 21st-century science. Descendants of Stephen Baker Burnham have been connected genetically to the immigrant ancestor Thomas Barnum through a 67-marker match of Y-DNA.

Stephen B. Barnum's middle name appears as Baker on the death certificate of his son Elbert and in the New Milford Land Indexes.

New Milford Land Indexes - Grantor: Orange Merwin; Grantee: Stephen Baker Barnum; Warranty: Mount Tom; 7 acres; May 12, 1810; Book: 27; Page: 224.
Grantor: Stephen B. Barnum; Grantee: Orange Merwin; Warranty: Mount Tom; 7 acres; September 18, 1810; Book 27; Page 271.

According to the letters written by Stephen's son, William H. Burnham, Stephen fought in the War of 1812.

In the 1820 US Census for Kent, Litchfield, Connecticut, the family of Stephen B. Barnum was enumerated as follows:
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820. Free White Persons - Males - Under 10: 2 [John and William]; Free White Persons - Males - 26 thru 44: 1 [Stephen]; Free White Persons - Females - Under 10: 1 [Caroline]; Free White Persons - Females - 26 thru 44: 1 [Martha]; Number of Persons - Engaged in Agriculture: 1; Free White Persons - Under 16: 3; Free White Persons - Over 25: 2; Total Free White Persons: 5; Total All Persons - White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 5.

In the 1830 US Census for Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut, the family of Stephen B. Barnum [Bosnum] was enumerated as follows:
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5: 3; Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 14: 1; Free White Persons - Males - 15 thru 19: 1; Free White Persons - Males - 40 thru 49: 1; Free White Persons - Females - 5 thru 9: 2; Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 14: 1; Free White Persons - Females - 30 thru 39: 1; Free White Persons - Under 20: 8; Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 2; Total Free White Persons: 10; Total - All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 10.

In the 1850 US Census for Thompson, Sullivan County, New York, the family of Stephen Burnham was enumerated as follows:
Dwelling #27; Family #530
Stephen Burnham, 58, Male, Farmer, b. Connecticut
Martha Burnham, 56, Female, b. New York
Austus Burnham, 20, Female, b. Connecticut [there are several errors in this entry, which obviously refers to Manly Augustus Burnham, b. 1830]
Catharine Burnham, 14, Female, b. New York, Attended school within the year [Catherine was born in 1839 and was therefore 11 years old, not 14]
B. T. Burnham, 22, Male, Farmer, b. Connecticut, Married within the year
Ellen R. Burnham, 22, Female, b. Connecticut, Married within the year
Jane Hamilton, 40, Female, Black, b. New York
The New Jersey State Archives do not show death records for either Stephen or Martha, probably because Jersey City did not report its deaths to the state for the 1859-1860 fiscal year.
Stephen was a member of the Hedding Methodist Episcopal Church in Jersey City.
In 1844, a letter was held at the Monticello Post Office addressed to Stephen B. Barnum.

Stephen was originally buried in the Bayview Cemetery on 11 February 1860, from the Hope Funeral Home. His age was listed as 72 years, which is different from the census records. His body was moved, according to Green-Wood Cemetery Records, and was re-buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery together with his wife Martha L. Hill, Manley Augustus Burnham, Manley's wife Mary Carlow Burnham, Mary's sister Jeannette Carlow and William H. Burnham.
In the 1850 US Census Stephen was enumerated as 58 years old, indicating that he was born about 1792. However, his 1860 burial record gives his age as 72, making his birth year 1788.
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