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 Eliza Augusta “Gussie” <I>Dasher</I> Burch

Eliza Augusta “Gussie” Dasher Burch

Dublin, Laurens County, Georgia, USA
Death 24 Mar 1931 (aged 82)
Eastman, Dodge County, Georgia, USA
Burial Eastman, Dodge County, Georgia, USA
Plot Section 2
Memorial ID 68370118 · View Source
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Eliza Augusta Dasher, called Gussie by her friends and family, was the daughter of John Martin Dasher [1825-1853] and Mary Elizabeth McElwayne [1826-1900.] She was the only child Mary and John had who lived to adulthood. Their second little girl, Tallula, born about 1851, died in 1855 and is buried in the old cemetery in Dublin.

Mary, John and little Augusta made their home in Laurens County Georgia in the town of Dublin. John worked there as a merchant and was listed among the principal merchants of the time. A little perspective here is needed. We would view the Dasher’s Dublin as a very small town. It was touted at the time as having a good courthouse, several stores, 65 houses and 180 inhabitants. The entire population of Laurens County in 1845 was 3,258 whites and 2,760 enslaved people.

Her parents time together as husband and wife was brief. On July 11, 1853 after only seven years of marriage John died leaving Mary and five year old Augusta on their own. He was buried in the old cemetery in Dublin. Augusta had very few memories of her Dasher kin. Her father’s father , Solomon, died within about a year of John Martin and Maria, his mother, had been dead for many years. Because of this there was little contact with the Dasher family with one exception. John Martin's sister Elvira Leonora married Thomas Northrup Guyton and they and their family lived in Dublin also.

Eventually Augusta's mother's path crossed that of Mr. Francis Thomas also a resident of Laurens County and a widower. They were married July 2, 1857. By the time of the US Census of 1860 Mary was again a widow running a boarding house valued at $600 and housing her daughter Augusta 11, Richard E Hudson 26 – a physician – and James A Thomas 13, Francis's son by his first marriage. Francis had died in January 1860, just months before the census taker arrived.

Enter husband #3, Mr. Oliver H. P. McClendon.

Augusta's new step-father, Mr. McClendon lived in Cave Spring, Floyd County Georgia, a beautiful area of northwest Georgia adjoining Alabama. Before the Civil War he was a comfortably set farmer owning land valued at $2500 and ten slaves; 2 women, 6 men, 1 boy and one baby boy. [Interestingly the oldest of those slaves, a woman of 55, was listed in the Slave Census as a fugitive from the state. You go girl!] His previous wife, also named Mary, had died leaving him with five daughters, 1 son and the yen to be married again. He and Mary married July 21, 1863 in the midst of the Civil War and made Cave Spring, their home.

But Oliver McClendon was not a happy man. During the war Yankee soldiers looted his home and destroyed what they could not carry away – including Oliver’s will to cope with life. He lost his ability to do much of anything leaving Mary to find a way to support him, the daughters still living with them, her daughter Augusta and herself. Luckily Mary could sew beautifully so she became a professional seamstress.

The Yankee soldiers remained in Cave Springs for a while making the inhabitants nervous and fearful. One day Mary heard that a friend of hers was alone for the day. With soldiers about Mary felt companionship was in order and sent Augusta, then an auburn-haired, green-eyed thirteen year old, to keep her company.

As Augusta walked along the streets she met the Yankee soldiers coming into town. She didn’t recognize who they were so felt no fear when they stopped to talk. At the end of the conversation she ask, “By the way, who are you?” A soldier answered, “Why we’re Yankees!” Shocked she replied, “Oh goodness! I thought they were devils with horns!!” The soldiers just laughed and let her pass in safety.

After spending some time as a seamstress during which Mr. Oliver showed no improvement Mary decided a change was in order. That decision made, she laid her plans. According to our family stories she first sent Augusta back to Dublin. Then she waited until Oliver was out of town. Quickly packing her belongings she joined her daughter and that was possibly the end of her marriage to Mr. Oliver McClendon. Or was it? We don't know where Mary was during the 1870 U.S. Census but she was not living with her newly married daughter. Perhaps Oliver and Mary did get together again. Regardless, Mary did keep his name until her death and her tombstone in Eastman GA reads, “Mary McElwayne McClendon.”.

It’s possible there was another reason for leaving Cave Spring when she did. Daughter Augusta had fallen in love. Who the man was and why Mary felt the match wasn’t suitable were never revealed. But Mary definitely forbade it to go on. Years later Augusta’s daughter Alice told her own oldest daughter that Augusta stayed in love with this gentleman through out her long life. She also loved and respected “Mr. Burch” as she called her husband. But the love of her youth was never forgotten.

It is easy to understand why Michael [Mike] Livingstone Burch was drawn to Augusta Dasher. Though she declared she was not a beauty, she did own to being, “fair as a lily!” Slender and green-eyed, her sense of humor and great personal warmth attracted all around her. Mike at thirty-one was no exception. He asked for her hand in marriage and she accepted. The marriage that took place in Dublin December 23, 1870 was the first step in a journey that would last 52 years.

Augusta was 21 she married Michael L Burch and together they raised seven children to adulthood.

Mike was already a successful businessman and property owner in Dublin when he married Augusta. The first years of his marriage to Augusta were smooth ones save for the death of their fist child, a son. Their first three daughters were all born in Dublin. Mary Tallulah [b. 10-25-1872 d. 6-7-1979] was Mary Lou to her sisters and Auntie to her nieces and nephews. She was followed by Henrietta Jane [b. 3-16-1874 d. 5-10-1957] know as Nettie or Net to her friends and Sissie or Sis to her family. The youngest of these three was Annie Laurie [b. 3-17-1876 d. March 1958] – Aunt Ann to us in later years.

Life rarely is composed of good fortune alone and the smooth road of Mike and Augusta’s first years became considerably rougher. Mike’s business partner was an unscrupulous man who augmented his salary by embezzling funds from their department store. He wasn’t ultimately satisfied until he took all available money and absconded with it never to be seen or heard of again. Poor Mike was left broke and humiliated before his fellow citizens. This was such a personal blow that after selling all his property to pay his debts, he decided to leave Dublin for a fresh start.

It happened that the “Times Journal”, Eastman, Georgia’s newspaper, had been put up for sale. Mike felt this was just the opportunity he needed. So in 1876 he, Augusta and their small children Mary Lou, Sissie and baby Annie packed all belongings, said their fair wells and left to began life anew.

Eastman was the county seat of newly formed Dodge County, which is located in the middle of the southern half of Georgia. When the Burches arrived Dodge Co. had only been in existence for six years. The town itself was very small. The main street consisted mostly of pine trees, a railroad depot, a store and some bar rooms. Mr. Bill Morgan, remembered by the Burch children as a jolly, child-loving man who wore a huge diamond tiepin, ran the largest bar.

When Augusta needed supplies she would send her children to Mr. Coleman’s general store which carried all manner of supplies including groceries, dry goods, hardware – “everything you could think of!” declared Mary Lou. However, the way there was just past the bar rooms. Augusta would always say, “Now go by Mr. Coleman’s and when you get to the barrooms run like a Turkey!” That meant top speed. So the girls would do just that. After a store clerk waited on them they’d come flying back home as hard as they could go.

All of the rest of the Burch children were born in Eastman. Alice Gertrude Burch arrived in 1878 [b. may 30, 1878 d. December 11, 1973], followed by John Alfred in 1880 [b. May 15, 1880 d. May 6, 1921], Michael Harris in 1882 [b. June 27, 1882 d. 1944, Little Henry who died at 17 months and Augusta Dasher [b. April 11, 1891 d. early 1980s] the baby who was known as Gus or Gussie. The Burch household also included Augusta’s mother Mary bringing the family total to ten.

As children do, the little Burchs grew up, married and grandchildren were born. When Mike and Augusta would go visit their daughter Alice and her family in Halcyondale, Screven County, Georgia, Michael would spend many happy hours sitting in a rocking chair on the big front porch killing flies. His grandson Walker remembers clearly that there always seemed to be a little half-grown chicken that would come up and eat the flies that were swatted. “Grandpapa and that chicken always had a warm relationship.”

While Mike was killing flies Augusta was either telling stories or singing. How her grandchildren loved their Grannie Burch. One of Walker’s earliest memories concerning her was arguing with his sister, Sis, over who would get to sleep with Grannie. He also remembered her warmth both physical and emotional as well as her beautiful snow-white hair.

Augusta loved to sing ballads and hymns while accompanying herself on the piano. This she did till the end of her life. One of her favorite ballads was “The Chase of the Wild Wood Deer”. She’d shut her eyes and throw all her emotion into her songs. Sis remembered that, as well as watching fascinated while Augusta’s hands flew over the keys, not slowed one whit by the great big knot on her second finger. The knot was there because she made tatting and would hit the bobbin against that particular spot.

In all of Augusta’s photos she appears stern. This was less an expression of her personality than of her intense dislike of her false teeth. Since she often didn’t wear them smiling in pictures was an unattractive option.

She was a warm and loving mother and grandmother. Her grandchildren thought her the best storyteller ever. One of them declared that "no one could tell Beauty and the Beast like Grannie!"

Michael Burch lived to the ripe old age of 83 years. His mental powers failed at age 80. But it was heart trouble which ultimately killed him December 12, 1922 only eleven days from his fifty-second wedding anniversary.1

Augusta lived almost ten years longer until March 25, 1931 when pneumonia, “the old man’s friend”, took her at last. She was also 83. Her passing was deeply mourned by the many that loved her.

Family Members


  • Created by: Sue Vrooman
  • Added: 14 Apr 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 68370118
  • Sue Vrooman
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Eliza Augusta “Gussie” Dasher Burch (3 Feb 1849–24 Mar 1931), Find A Grave Memorial no. 68370118, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Eastman, Dodge County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Sue Vrooman (contributor 47404326) .