He was a beautiful boy, Walter Ellis Burton, and later, a handsome young man. His life was far too short, but he never saw the ravages of time mar his features. There is no one left on earth who knew him; no one who remembers the beautiful boy.

Walter Ellis Burton was the firstborn son (1898) of Ira O. Burton (1875–1938) and Ruth Frances Langford (1880–1953). Ira O. Burton was the son of Tolliver Joseph Burton (1840–1905) and Jane Jennie Murphy (b. 1844). Ruth Frances Langford was the daughter of Joshua Marion Langford (1859–1927) and Mary B Rivers (1859–1889).

Four daughters followed in succession. There was not to be another son born into the family.

The girls:

  • Mary Etta Burton (1901–1983)
  • Edna Lois Burton (1904–1972)
  • Margaret Frances Burton (1914–1998)
  • Louise Burton (1917–1921)

The name “Walter” does not seem to have any personal meaning, although it is possible, even likely, that I’ve missed a namesake somewhere. “Ellis” is no doubt after the Ellis family of Due West; in particular, Robert Ellis, who took in Tolliver Joseph Burton after the death of his parents, and provided for him even after the death of Robert Ellis by way of inheritance.

When he was seventeen years of age, Walter’s father, Ira O. Burton, shot and killed a man on Main Street in Newberry, SC. The tragic event, the arrest of his father, the trials … all would have had tremendous effect on a young man in the prime of his life. This story will be told later in the chapter of the life and times of Ira O. Burton.

What does have big –yes, monumental — personal significance to me is that Walter Ellis Burton met and married the woman who would become my great grandmother, Laura Belle Ruff (1899-1996). A daughter was born to them on June 26, 1917, but the infant girl did not survive long enough to be counted in a census, nor can I find her name or date of death. This was the first of many heartbreaks to come.

Another daughter was born in 1918. She survived and was given the name Mary Ellen. She lived a very long life surrounded by a loving family before she was called to her heavenly home in 2008.

Named “Walter” after his father and “Darold” after my great grandmother’s teenaged crush, my grandfather, Walter Darold Burton, was born August 24, 1920. He was called Billy and he, too, was a beautiful boy. I was always grateful that God had chosen him to be my grandfather. We had to write a paper in school about someone who was a hero in our lives, and I chose him. We lost him in 1998 and I miss him every single day.

With a wife and two small children to raise, it was more than tragic when Walter Ellis Burton became ill, and died on November 26, 1924 in a hospital near Columbia, SC. He left behind his young wife who never married again. Laura Belle Ruff Burton worked hard her entire life to provide for her son and daughter. I am lucky beyond measure that these beautiful people with beautiful souls are my family.

Walter Ellis Burton, and his two sisters Mary Etta and Edna Lois. (Photo taken ca. 1909)

I love the watch fob. It’s a very nice touch.

I am also fascinated by the shoes……..

Walter Ellis Burton as a young man. (year unknown)

6 thoughts on “WALTER ELLIS BURTON (1898-1924)

    1. HI Richard, This Burton family intermarried with the Union County Fowler family; that is the only connection. There are a few articles not related to the Union County Fowlers (Asa Fowler, No Tears, and a few of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks) so maybe I should change the title of the website now? I’ll try to get more Fowler articles on there for you!


  1. Hello! I have a picture for you! Its of Eb Fowler. I’m not sure how to post it here. I am going to post it on my Facebook page and you can get it from there! It does not have a age on it but I am going through some of my grandmother (Della) pictures so there could be more & they could be dated! Thank you!!
    Donna Sue


    1. Hi Donna Sue, Thanks so much for putting the photo on Facebook! I cannot wait to show my dad. I will try to round up more of my grandfather Ross to send to you. Deb


  2. My grandmother was Jenny (Jennie) Belle Burton. And her husband was James Broadus Jones, Sr. There was a son born, James Jr. who died at the age of 3 and his mother Jenny months later. My mother and her 2 older sisters were placed in an orphanage at a young age, so I never knew my grandparents and my mother did not have any information regarding her parents other than a name. Wondering how Jenny Belle was related to your Burton’s in Newberry?


    1. Hi Rhonda, Thank you for your comment! Your grandmother Jennie Bell Burton (1897-1931) was the daughter of Robert Ellis Burton (1874-1917). Robert Ellis Burton was the son of Joseph Tolliver Burton (1840-1905). Robert Ellis Burton was the brother of Ira O. Burton who was my great great grandfather. If you read my article about Joseph Tolliver Burton, you will see that the name “Ellis” likely came from the Ellis family with whom Joseph Tolliver Burton lived after the death of his parents. My great grandfather was named Walter ELLIS Burton. I was recently in Due West, SC looking around for Burton graves, and I stumbled upon Ellis Road just out of the town limits. I feel certain that this was the area that the Ellis family — and Joseph Tolliver Burton — lived. Please email me at debfowler@aol.com. I have DNA tested my Burton family and know the proven history from the time they came to America from England.


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