Reunited Against All Odds: A Civil War Love Story

Occasionally we come across an old newspaper story that is so amazing, we can’t help but wonder if it’s really true. This story about Civil War soldier Otis H. Burton seems to fall into that category. After a little fact-checking, however, all available records seem to support this sweet love story. With all the heavy news lately, sit back and enjoy this 19th-century tale with miraculous twists and a happy ending!

Otis H. Burton was born in Bangor, Maine in 1837. As a young man, he decided to move west and seek his fortune. He ended up in Missouri where he fell in love with an accomplished young woman named Susan Mary Payne. Before he had a chance to profess his love to her, she moved to another state. They soon lost touch.  

About this time, the Civil War broke out and Otis enlisted in the 25th Missouri Regiment of the Union Army. While serving in the war, he was severely wounded and not expected to survive. He wrote a farewell letter to his mother but against all odds, he eventually recovered. After feeling well enough to rejoin his regiment, Otis joined them on a mission to transport supplies across the plains. During the journey, a band of Native Americans attacked the party, killing everyone in the company except for Otis, who received severe wounds.

Otis was taken prisoner and led back to the tribe’s mountain home in the Southwest. He gradually recovered from his wounds, adapted to his new surroundings, and started to gain the trust of his captors. All the while he was looking for an opportunity to escape.

One day, after about six months in captivity, tribe members returned to camp with several stolen ponies. Otis observed the horses and noticed one that was of a high breed and showed promise for speed and endurance. Otis cared for the horse, petting and feeding the animal. Eventually, they allowed him to ride the horse.

During one ride, Otis ventured out further than usual. Seizing the opportunity, he took off at top speed, riding furiously with his captors in close pursuit. Finally evading them, Otis rode hard for three days before finally clearing hostile territory.

In the distance, Otis saw smoke rising from the chimney of a small house. He shouted for joy, glad to finally be free. He approached the house and made his way to the door. After knocking, the door opened and there stood Susan Mary Payne, his love from Missouri. After the initial shock, Susan shared her story. She had married a Confederate officer, Joseph L. Robey, who was killed during the war. She was now living alone. Otis shared his story and the two happily reunited. They started to rebuild the relationship began so many years earlier in Missouri.  

In 1870, Otis and Susan married and lived out their lives in Texas. Otis passed away in 1898. To see more stories like this, search Newspapers.com today!

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126 thoughts on “Reunited Against All Odds: A Civil War Love Story

  1. I recently wrote this story into a children’s history series of graphic novels. I was surprised to see it here!

    • I was just thinking this would make an excellent novel. Where might I read your series?

  2. Not a credible story. I am a multi published military historian. The story got my interest up as Missouri Troops were not usually called out to fight Indians during the Civil War. My guess is that old Otis Burton made the tale up out of whole cloth, possibly, to cover the story that he was a deserter or never enlisted. I looked at the Missouri Adjutant General’s records on line and found there was no record for Otis Burton or anyone else named Burton in the 25 Missouri.

    • I believe you mis-read what the article stated. He was transporting supplies across the plains, The article never said that they were sent out to fight Indians.

      • All right Otis was a Missouri soldier. It would be highly unlikely that he was “adopted” by a band of warriors who had attacked and killed all members of his detachment. If he were a child or female, perhaps so, but not a grown male. Assuming this was so, and crediting his escape, how did he secure supplies and food for his his horse for the long trip east? And coming across his soon to be wife’s cabin on the virtual edge of the frontier, a female living alone in the wildness, no way. If you believe this story, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

        • The story doesn’t say the woman returned to the East, but to “another state.” The story states the soldier was taken captive somewhere in the plains; after his escape, he “rode hard for three days.” He wouldn’t have been able to make it back “east,” as you suggest, in the course of a three-day horse ride. Then the cabin, it’s implied, also was in the plains.

        • One thing to take the story with a grain of salt, but at least read the story first.

        • After a life-long study or the old West, and just reading “Captured”, I too would be suspicious of this story. I have never read of an adult male being take captive by Indians. Especially plains Indians like the Comanche or Apache. He would have been slow tortured and murdered had he survived the initial battle.

          • I have read in detail that Daniel Boone was kept by and escaped from his Native captors…

          • Likely not the Apache or Comanche post Civil War. The Iroquoi were in a complete other era and circumstance. I’m also skeptical of this tale.

          • I mentioned the Iroquois only because one poster said that Indians never took grown men captive.

    • While I agree the story has some holes and it seems improbable, the fact seems to be there was an Otis H. Burton and he enlisted in the 13th MO. in 1861. The 13th was later designated the 25th. Recheck the MO database to see this.

    • I don’t understand the mindset of the people who always have something negative to say. This was a wonderful story and with all that is going on right now it was nice to read something so heartwarming. Thank you for sharing it!

      • I enjoyed the story very much. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s true or now. A wonderful love story. If you don’t have something nice to say please say nothing at all!

        • Don’t be so silly. Of course people can point out things that render the story most improbable. Why not? I might well have believed it had it not been for commenters pointing out the flaws.

      • To the person who said, “I don’t understand the mindset of the people who always have something negative to say.” let me just say, that the person was being sceptical. Ask yourself how many times your life has been saved because someone “just didn’t right” about something. That sceptic saved your life. That is why we have this mindset in the human race. It has been naturally selected (ie. darwinism) because it serves a useful purpose — double checking. Double checking is what saves peoples lives. That’s why there are people with this mindset. Next time, even if it is exhibited in an inappropriate situation, thank your lucky stars there are people around like this. They help save all our behinds some times.

        • Yes very true, however he failed in reading the details and therefore was way off from the story. the truth is in the detail. News paper report will be only part of the story. Records details family etc will fill in a lot more of the story.

      • I agree! Was a nice read. You always have the sourpusses to pipe in and pick things apart. Un happy individuals. It’s sad.

      • As the article states there was a man…met a woman…had ad-ventures…reconnected with the woman…fell in love..lived happily ever after.
        There are some records to validate this. Not a lot, but some.
        This is a happily ever after story in an uncertain, trying, scary time.
        Can’t it just be enjoyed for what it is? What harm would there be in keeping the negative comments for some other story today. There are so many of those to chose from.

        • Susan, I have enjoyed reading these comments and have some agreement that a more positive dialogue has benefits. I also believe that we, as a society, need to discuss difficult divisive issues if we are going to succeed as a democracy. At some point we have to talk about our different feelings about what is true and what is not true.
          I don’t care if this story is true. I do care if what I hear on the evening news it true or not true. We can’t seem to agree on that either.

        • Name: Otis H Burton
          Gender: Male
          Marriage Date: 15 Mar 1870
          Marriage Place: Hunt, Texas, United States
          Spouse: Susan Roby
          FHL Film Number: 1005079

          • Good find! It doesn’t take much time to find documentation if you just give it a try.

      • Lori, I do agree. This story is something fun to lift our hearts during these darker days. I enjoyed it and really don’t care if some or all of it is untrue.

        I’ve seen enough sadness lately. For today, let’s focus on the fact this story is about a happy ending.

      • Amen! Thank you! So it was perhaps a “tall tale” but, so what? As so many TV shows and Movies are “based on a true story”, why do “fact checkers” have to just thumb their noses at a very entertaining story. Give it a rest “researchers”. Your “cold hard facts” may be true or not. Don’t ruin the story for others by picking it apart because you think you are “so smart”. Read a book of fiction and take some deep breaths!

      • Perhaps the mindset is that certain people prefer the truth and others are content to believe news media, even way back when. Having been a member of the news media, I can testify that it is not negative to question what you’re reading. Have you not heard of yellow journalism? I’d be interested to know why some people believe asking questions and not walking lockstep with a narrative means negativity. How about critical thinking and trying to discern the truth?

    • I just found this in the Hunt County, Texas marriage records:
      Name: Otis H Burton
      Gender: Male
      Marriage Date: 15 Mar 1870
      Marriage Place: Hunt, Texas, United States
      Spouse: Susan Roby

    • Otis H Burton, enlisted date; 10 July 1861 private, enlisted place Rushville, Missouri, Company A, Missouri 25th infantry Regiment on 10 July 1961

    • Actually, I looked Susan Mary Payne up in Family Tree because of our shared maiden name and found her cited as the wife of my 7th cousin, 5 times removed by the name of Otis Henry Haliburton. I would be interested to see if you found a record for him under that name. It isn’t that unusual for old documents and accounts to have people’s names wrong. I have found what I know to be errors is an 1880 census record for some of my great-great-aunts whom I knew during my childhood through my teens.

      • Just found on ancestry.com
        Name: Otis H. Burton
        Gender: Male
        Marriage Date: 15 Mar 1870
        Marriage Place: Hunt, Texas, USA
        Spouse: Mrs. Susan Roby
        Spouse Gender: Female
        Texas, Marriage Index, 1824-2014

    • What difference does it make if every detail is related with absolute accuracy? Or, maybe it was one of those God-incidences that need no nitpicking, just acceptance. Recommended reading: WHERE THE BROKEN HEART STILL BEATS about Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of Commanche Chief Quannah Parker. Historical fiction, it will lead you to many books, fiction and nonfiction, that are accounts of the lives both the kidnapped and their captors.

    • Just looked at Ancestry
      In 1880 US census in Hunt, precinct 1, Texas there is an Otis Burton, born in MaIne, c 1840, married to Susan, b Kentucky, 37 Years old so born c 1843. He is listed in 25th Infantry
      Soooo looks pretty good.

    • I am NOT a military historian but I am a curious person.. fold3 B 25 Mo. Otis H[enry] Burton Pvt Co. A, 25th Reg’t Missouri Inf. Age 25 years; height 5 feet 9 inches Complexion dark Eyes black; hair black …Enlistment When July 10,1861 Where St Jo Mo By whom Capt Nichols; term 3 yrs Remarks: In battle Lexington Mustared out Oct 26, 1861

    • Name: Otis H Burton
      Gender: Male
      Marriage Date: 15 Mar 1870
      Marriage Place: Hunt, Texas, United States
      Spouse: Susan Roby
      FHL Film Number: 1005079

  3. Hard to believe. Why would the Native Americans kill everyone except him, and nurse back to health, a severely wounded enemy? On top of that, trust that enemy with his only means of escape? More ever, how did he become so familiar with their territory? Still, it’s an interesting story.

    • Native Americans often took enemy survivors captive to use for slave labor, like caring for the horses for example. Riding one of the captive horses wouldn’t therefore be unheard of. To escape, all he had to do was head East toward the sunrise. And he was probably pretty familiar with maps since he had wanted to head West early on. There were probably only a few homesteads about then and if one saw a smoke cloud in the far distance, that’s where they would head.

    • I just found this on Ancestry.com:
      Name: [Otis H Burton]
      Role: Veteran
      Residence Date: Jun 1890
      Home in 1890 (Township, County, State): Greenville, Hunt, Texas
      Enumeration District: 96
      Year enlisted: 1861
      Year discharged: 1863
      Rank: Sgt

    • The Native Americans were not savages as the white men would like to portray they were humans that were trying to protect their communities that had their lands taken from them. Aboriginal people through out the world have their own Laws just because they differ from your own doesn’t mean they are wrong.

      • Hi Norma,

        I didn’t sense that people were calling the Comanches and others savages. Life was hard, and war was hard, and this was a hard people. Many scholars have commented extensively about how brutal they were to those they initially conquered. They were a fierce, proud and potent people.

      • Thank You for that comment. I am so tired of hearing how they are vicious heartless brutes

        • Oh, here we go. Want to rewrite history now? Of course, like ALL people, there were good and bad. But their culture was punishing and they did torture their enemies. Let’s not romanticize anything.

          • After the way White men treated them and took their land. I’d be
            Vicious too.

  4. Actually, there was a private named Otis H. Burton in Company A, 25th Missouri Infantry Regiment—https://www.fold3.com/image/241658762?ann=69f15560-72cc-11ea-a1d7-b73f36fdff1e.

  5. We can all use a heartwarming story from time to time, so let’s forget whether Mr. Burton was or wasn’t in the army.

  6. The truth is very helpful when someone is trying to trace their family roots (which, in my experience, they prefer to have as factual as possible). Where an author uses a story like this to teach historical happenings but with fictional characters, that fact should be documented. It is difficult enough to find “facts” when doing genealogy searches without “making up stories” that are not factual. (Sometimes the ancestors do that well enough on their own!)

    • I also checked and yes, in the MO Adjutant records it shows an Otis H. Burton in Co. A of the 13th MO Infantry, enlisting in 1861. The 13th was later designated the 25th MO. The story does seem a bit over the top and could very well be either fiction or partially so, but depending on time frame and memories of individuals, it may have some of truth in it. I understand what you are saying, but it can’t be dismissed out of hand.

      • Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.There are many true, and unbelievable stories in our countries background. Many of us believe that these are not
        consequential happenings but the hand of God was involved to bring about the ending.

        • Well said. Who are we to dismiss a story when there could be truth in it. God moves in mysterious ways… I thought it was a touching account anyway.

        • I agree! Not everything in life is black and white. The hand of GOD will intervene and cause water to be changed to wine. There was no exchange of the wine jugs, just a simple miracle where events are altered to the “good”

    • I agree with you, Jan, I am into Genealogy, as well, and a story that is NOT factual sends me off on confusing and time-consuming rabbit trails. I am writing a book that begins with my great grandfather entering the Civil War as a 15 year old drummer boy. It goes through all the major events of my life and those that shaped this great Nation into what she is today. We will overcome if we ban together as one united God-fearing undivided Nation. And while doing that we should be praying for truth and facts.

      • And the person who left the comment that no single woman (widow, divorced or whatever) would be living by herself way out in the frontier—sorry, tain’t so. Some of them found themselves in situations neither we nor they could ever imagine!

        • my husbands grandmother was in this situation. it was common for frontier women to loose their husband and have no way to move elsewhere.

      • But, Millie, this was not part of your family search. This was just a nice little story. Just take it for what it is and more on. Find somewhere else to vent.
        P.S. Least you think I can’t relate to your perspective, I worked on my family history for about 10 years looking for living descendants. I finally ran out of leads and set it all aside for awhile.
        Yes, the search can be frustrating but all told it’s a fun ride, isn’t it?

        • Susan
          Don’t give up the search. I started looking for my birth parents over forty years ago before DNA was readily available. Because it is now I have found my parents, two half sisters and one Half brother. As far as stories go I’ve heard a lot. Some true and some not. You have to wade through them all but the end result is worth it. Unfortunately my parents had already passed but my siblings are still alive. I look forward to meeting them face to face.
          Yes I liked the story. Thanks to all the fact checkers that gave it some credibility. As to the stories in the middle of it, you would have to had been there in order to factually dispute it!

      • A good historical fiction novel of a real person the the book
        “The Daughter of the Daughter of a Queen” by Sarah Bird.
        It is the story of a the first women in the US Army who was African American, and ex-slave and a Buffalo Soldier.

  7. The story was very interesting and I imagine many people experienced changed lives after the Civil War that changed the direction and many lives of the folks in our nation during those forming times of US unity. The circumstances in each generation of the politics and decisions of others than normal family folks affect the lives of all at the time. There are countless story history of WW1 and WW2 and Korea War and Viet Nam Incursion by our leadership that changed multitudes of lives, people, and values that affect us today. History is to be viewed as a learning lesson not to repeat mistakes, recover from the bad effects of war, and living the very best with who you are with and what you work together for making good lives now.

  8. This is a newspaper article about a Confederate soldier written by one of his granddaughters,

    Newspaper Article was copied as originally written and published.
    The article by Avis Sargent Ashcraft, granddaughter of Thomas Holland Middleton and Martha Ann Wills. Family lore is evident in the article. The name of the newspaper and the date of the article are not known. [The original article may possibly be found in https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ ]

    Webster County Father Remembered

    Thomas Holland Middleton (Dec. 6,1839-Dec. 25, 1919) was born in the sparsely populated hills of what is now Webster County, Mississippi, in the Clarkson community. He was the grandson of Holland Middleton who fought with the Georgia Regulars during the Revolutionary War and a relative of Arthur Middleton whose name appears on the Declaration of Independence, an act of treason for which he would have paid with his life if it it had been revealed before the British surrendered.

    Neighbors were widely separated at the time, needing much land to support large families, much livestock and wild game. In most families a child was given a horse and saddle when (in the judgement of the father) he became of age. Because of the need for many working horses and the size of most families each farmer broke his own horses. This situation caused Thomas Holland to be thrown from a horse, causing a broken leg when he was a young man. As a result he walked with one leg shorter than the other, though he resumed a normal life. In spite of this he was considered handsome and popular.

    In the community lived a 16-year-old half-Indian maiden, Martha Ann Wills, whom he favored. Her Indian mother had died during her early childhood and her father had married a local girl. After his death her step-mother married again. Though she was old enough to work and did, she found she was not welcome in her step-parents home. One day she heard them making plans to “send her back to the Indians.” She told Thomas Holland about this and he began making plans of his own. A few days later he (then 21) mounted his horse and rode to the schoolhouse. When he spotted Martha Ann he swooped down, picked her up and was gone almost before he was seen. With the help of his family and friends they were soon wed. He, being the youngest, they made their home with his parents and cared for them (his parents) as was the custom at the time.

    All too soon the war came and though they owned no slaves, as was the case of most of their neighbors, all ablebodied men responded to their country’s call and joined the Confederate Army. Middleton, unable to keep up with the troops was put in charge of mess, there he rendered just as great a service.

    Food was scarce for the Confederates and ammunition for the Damyankees. They were loading their muskets with der peas (which they had probably stolen from some farmer). After the battles Middleton would go out to the battlefields and pick up the peas, one at a time, soak the, and cook them to go with their cornbread, that was their rations.

    On Nov. 28, 1864, Middleton went out to call the men to dinner. A black soldier appeared suddenly, armed with real ammunition and shot him in the head, entering the skull at the front and streaking through his head. His state of shock and of blood loss looked deadly as he lay motionless. The troops shed tears into their plates as they ate the “last” meal he had prepared for them, believing him to be dead. After their meal they went out to bring in the wounded, burying of the dead had to wait until the wounded were attended. Many times the litter bearers pass by their “dead” sergeant on their rounds. When they di get to Middleton, preparing to bury him, they found that he was not cold as death and that he had a faint pulse, in spite of the fact that he had been lying there for eight days and nights. A miracle? In time with the best care they could give him and with God’s graciousness he was restored.

    After the war he (as most of the others) had to make his own way home. One day Martha Ann was outside with a fire under the old iron washpot and with wooden tubs busily going the family wash. As she glanced down the road she could see the grey uniform and white swathed head approaching.

    Watching intently she soon recognized that familiar limp—she started running toward the road, not the long way around the gate but straight to the fence—she completely jumped over the fence, petticoats, long dress and all.

    Middletons painful and frightening experience in the war had a very deep impression on him. He was aware that God had spared his life for a purpose. With this conviction, he surrendered to the call to the Ministry in the Baptist church where he served as long as he lived. He was also a master Mason.

    Though he had no formal medical training, it seemed he knew the many “home Remedies” that most of the doctors used at the time. He was often called when there was an illness. Martha Ann often accompanied him on the mercy calls. She was a help to him and a comfort to the family. If the patient died, which was not rare, they were there to render service and help make necessary arrangements.

    Besides his military service, Middleton rendered 45 years of service to God and his fellowman with love and compassion. He and Martha rest in the Clarkson cemetery with seven of their eleven children.

    • This sounds like a totally different story.
      Nice, but still not similar at all.

    • Your story can be found in the The Webster Progress-Times (Eupora, Mississippi) 7 Jun 1979, p.9 on Newspapers.com. Unfortunately the image quality is horrible and barely readable.

  9. It is a different story. Are replies limited to a particular story or may other stories be added?

  10. Otis H. Burton was actually Otis Halliburton. He was the son of William and Clarissa (Lowe) Halliburton. Otis can be found in the 1850 census in Waldo County, Maine with his name listed as “Otto.” Otis’s younger brother Marcus (who moved to New Jersey) was my great grandfather.

    • Sharon, Thanks for commenting! We found Otis Burton (also Haliburton) in the Maine census records and also found records of his enlistment, Susan’s marriage record and the record of the death of her Confederate soldier husband. We also found records of their marriage and additional census records. So can you tell us, is this story accurate?

    • Then we are distant cousins. Otis’s 6x great-grandfather Francis Cooke is my 11x great grandfather through his son John Cooke who was born in the Netherlands in 1607 and died in 1695, Dartmouth, Massachusetts Bay.

  11. I too came up with a family lore story that had me pondering for years before becoming a genealogist. When I did, I worked hard to find every clue I could and many things came out of early 1800’s newpapers! I totally debunked the 3 generation family story, probably relayed to a young son whose father had gone missing, never to be heard from again, in an attempt to bolster his faith in humanity I would assume. When I pieced the entire puzzle it was certainly a case where truth is stranger than fiction! Yes, it can happen in such unexpected ways that no one would believe! I’m glad other researchers did find the real Otis (Halli)Burton and prove his truth!

  12. A nice heart warming story. True or not, just remember that the writers even back then liked to embellish their stories to sell papers. And they are still doing I today, even more so!

    • Richard Gere was the returned soldier/husband, or not, as she and the dog were unsure he was the correct man. There was a love story, but maybe not the original one.

  13. Lots of stories—if you want an example of what could happen to families after the Civ War, read up on the White Hats in TN. Before them, women may have lost their husbands (& someone came along & stole their land, animal, crops, etc), so they would be left on their own (unless they had help from someplace). If they are already out further (in the wilds of the west country) where the nearest neighbor was 10 miles away & if you lost your husband & you had 4 kids & 4 cows, you were on your own! Don’t know how some of them made it.

    • No smartphones or radios or TVs or Lazyboy recliners. No Amazon or Facebook or Tweets to distract and take time for what really needed to be done. Like taking care of the children and stock. This still occures in a large portion of the world. In fact my Mother took care of her five kids, feed the stock, gathered the eggs, milked the cows and tended the garden as well as cooking the meals.
      And she did all that and more and lived to be 98+ years old. She just passed away in March of 2009.

  14. I found Otis and Susan Burton on the 1880 Census:

    Name: Otis Burton [aka Otis Halliburton]
    Age: 40
    Birth Date: Abt 1840
    Birthplace: Maine
    Home in 1880: Precinct 1, Hunt, Texas, USA
    Dwelling Number: 83
    Race: White
    Gender: Male
    Relation to Head of House: Self (Head)
    Marital status: Married
    Spouse’s name: Susan Burton
    Father’s Birthplace: Maine
    Mother’s Birthplace: Maine
    Occupation: Farmer

    • See Findagrave.com, Type in memorial # 21773152. This is their son’s memorial and there is a newspaper clipping about the family.

    • “I found Otis and Susan Burton on the 1880 Census:
      Name: Otis Burton [aka Otis Halliburton]
      Age: 40
      Birth Date: Abt 1840”

      The article notes:

      “Otis passed away in 1898.”

      58 years had passed !!!

      That means Otis Burton was 58 years old when he died. Life spans were much shorter back then !!!

  15. Daniel Boone was captured as an adult and kept for some months. Acting docile and agreeable, he won over his captives and escaped when they took him out to a work site. Other adult males survived, but it was most likely they were to be killed, as they were thought to be more dangerous than the females and the children.

  16. I have noted many family stories of “my ___ served in the Civil War.” Lots of times, they don’t know which side or any details. Some of these when researched, find no evidence of ever having served. Some did serve early but those groups were not always duly enrolled, once things got hot, some of those men went home. They may have been ashamed to have not served, when all their buds were telling about their service, so they ‘invented’ their own stories. Ever see that happen amongst a group?

  17. Am smiling over these wonderful stories. Wait until you research “Return Jonathan Meigs”. That’s a pretty neat story, too. Is it true? Not sure. But it will continue to be passed down in the Meigs lore.

  18. If you’re into genealogy and you’ve ever read “Psychic Roots” by Henry Z. Jones, you’d know that a LOT of crazy coincidences happen in life, and equally so in the process of research. Maybe the story is embellished, or maybe it happened just the way it was stated.

  19. The story is complety plausible, however unlikely it would be to find the girl in the first home that he cam across. The story only said his company was transporting supplies across the Plains. Most likely “supplies” would be going from East to West or Southwest to Missouri , Kansas, or possibly Texas. Once captured, he was taken, as the story goes, to their “Southwest mountain home. It probably wasn’t far from what was then called the “Indian Territory” on US maps of 1863. It’s what we now know as Oklahoma.

    Now, the story doesn’t say which direction he rode, only that he rode hard for 3 days. It’s hard to say how far one could get on a horse over the hilly terrain of Oklahoma, but I looked up Hunt County,Texas. It’s only 25 miles south of the Old Indian Territory and Texas border.

    Coincidence?

    To me the coincidences are more on the POSSIBLE side than the side of the impossible.

  20. I am a collector of my husband’s stories (California True Tales & Taller) and find I love most anyone’s story, as long as it is well told.Turns out, what started as just a lovely story here encouraged researchers to bring it into vivid life. Love the story tellers, love the researchers, love how good stories always seem to bring out other good stories.

  21. my husbands grandmother was in this situation. it was common for frontier women to loose their husband and have no way to move elsewhere.

  22. Everyone is entitled to their opinion; even if that opinion is contrary to your own. It would be nice to have a story that doesn’t demonize a non- Caucasian group here. And maybe specify they 2020 is 100 years of White women voting. #ijs

    • Why does everything have to be about race?? Shame on you for making it that way. We are all human beings. Under our skin is the same stuff…

  23. In Missouri, until 1910, women were not able to be the guardian/executor of their property and children when their husband died, despite the amount of time and money they might have contributed to the business/farm/home. In Morgan County, MO, when we did all the probate records for microfilm preservation, we found sometimes the one who the husband most disliked was the one appointed to control his family and his business when he died.

  24. Find A Grave

    Please see Memorial of Otis Henry Burton, II
    Birth: 11 MAR 1876
    Texas
    Death. 10 JAN 1960

    Burial Odd Fellows Cemetery
    Caddo Mills, Hunt County,
    Texas

    Please also see newspaper article attached regarding reunion of descendants the late O. H. Burton and Susan Payne Burton

  25. I think what we might keep in mind as family historians and/or genealogists is that while family stories or legends may be entertaining and colorful, they may not be factual. And while I would love to have a colorful ancestor… I dont want a fake colorful ancestor.

    • Exactly. I had a cousin who loved to embellish and/or make up stories. I just recently learned that he told his kids that the DeBolt family is connected with John Dillinger. Maybe on this cousin’s dad’s side, but not on his mother’s side! He also told that we’re connected to the famous pirate, Jean LeFitte. NOPE, wrong again. If I had proof that we were were connected to these people, I would acknowledge it, and probably even be proud of it, but unless I’m sadly mistaken, not a word of it is true.

  26. My great grandfather, Howard Craufurd Elphinstone, was born in Riga, Livonia in 1819. His family were originally Scottish. His father gambled and eventually they had to sell their estate and move back to England. They settled in Sidmouth, Devon. Young Howard went into the Army and was sent out to the Crimea to fight the Russians in the Crimean War. He received the Victoria Cross of bringing back the scaling ladders from the walls of Sebastopol & also rescuing about 20 wounded men. Later on, he was hit in the head and taken up for dead. He was on the dead cart, about to be buried in a common grave, when his batman saw him and demanded that he be removed. This action saved his life.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Craufurd_Elphinstone

  27. I was reading today about the first and only woman to get the Congressional Medal of Honor. She was an MD and surgeon, had a hard time getting them to allow her to practice medicine. She bravely went into Confederate territory to help the wounded, also to spy, got caught and was in prison for 4 months. When she got exchanged she went back to the Union. Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to ever receive the Congressional Medal of Honor It as rescinded with 910 others in an effort to shrink the pension rolls. The Carter administration reinstated the medals in 1977.

  28. My Union soldier great grandfather was Willoughby Scott Gatson. ON his pay rosters, he is listed as: William, Wiloby,Willoby, and several other spellings. It seemed to depend on the education and care of the pay master to get the names spelled correctly. Perhaps some of the men did not know how to spell or write their own names, as literacy wasn’t prevalent during the Civil War. Many names were Angelicized when families came through Ellis Island or other ports of entry when they sought more American names or the one enrolling had
    no idea how to spell a complicated name which was foreign to him. MY husband’s ancestor fought with George Washington at Fort Necessity. His name had the Dutch spelling there of Halley, he was an Allee, which came from Spain as DeAllee. Lots of changes for one family.

  29. Many strange things happened during the C. War. In our neighborhood, a widowed lady went to a train to meet her new husband and her old husband got off the train, as did he newer husband. What a dilemma and all in good faith? She went back to her first husband leaving the newer husband without a wife and family.

  30. Most of you are missing the point, it’s obviously a tall tale, the point is Newspapers.com is using this as advertising, which is not right for them to do. If you want to use Newspapers.com to look up historical facts that’s great, if you want to read fictional stories, this is not the place to do it.

  31. I read the newspaper account of the love story and thought it sweet, then I started reading the many comments of the believers versus the non believers and, decided the dialog was far more interesting than the original story. Opinions are a dime a dozen, and everyone has one as this story proved so eloquently.

  32. Finally, finally a reader who gets it. There was something long ago, known as Yellow Journalism in which small town newspapers would often print, as true stories, outlandish tales such as the present one, that eventually got us into the war with Spain in 1898. There is no question that the public, in the current crisis, demands to hear that something good is happening. Well reader, forget the falsehoods of so-called Indian fighters in days of yore and instead, seek the daily good news of the heroic acts by our first responders, by paramedics, nurses, social workers, doctors, store clerks, trashmen, and postal workers. These are our genuine heros.

  33. I’ve been collecting, reading and researching handwritten diaries for over 35 years now and have come across some personal diaries that represented “truth being stranger than fiction.” Stories that were so hard to believe but were TRUE!! Hundreds and hundreds of them. I’ve learned to do my research, yes, but also learned to keep my mind and heart open. Skepticism is not a quality I desire to be a part of my life. I LOVE this story. Thank you for sharing it.

  34. As a featured historical columnist for Gannett News/USA today for nearly 15 years, I can tell you that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I have written about (and verified) stories that seemed implausible. I also know that MANY, MANY people (back in that time period when you could not check things), made up all sorts of stories and told them as truth. My own family had some “stories” that once I started researching them, were actually someone else’s story, or fabricated from a bit of truth. There is no way to know 100% if all of this was true, but I do know that out east, natives never took males older than about 14 because they were too much trouble. They always tried to escape. Did they ever take a man out there? Who knows. All I am saying is that it was never desirable to take little children (who could not make a long march to camp) or boys, women and men, who would cause problems. Good story anyway.

  35. I loved this story and all the dialog that followed! I once found a newspaper article from about 1906 that said my grandmother married a gentleman and they welcomed the newlyweds to town. NEVER happened! She married my actual grandfather that year and my mother was born a few months later. It was a fun surprise while I was researching old newspapers. I had never heard that family rumor and was able to share with other family for good laugh!

  36. I’m surprised nobody has noticed the lack of updates this year. You can find out on the updated papers and it all looks the same. Last year Sacramento Bee was their major deal which is cool but they have so much potential.

    I think people are on their stupid phones and don’t pay attention to a thing around them. Phones are SO divisive against society. They may have a ‘computer’ in them but it’s one you don’t really control.

    They are as much of a PC in your pocket as a ‘terminal’ is to a main frame. Your phone is the terminal one you carry instead of using it in the office but still requires the main frame to connect.

    Hulu is a main frame you need to connect you don’t own anything in your phone where as a computer it’s yours even if it’s a crappy low end one.

  37. Wow! This story is giving me goosebumps all over. What a miracle! Thank you for sharing.

  38. The researchers who wrote in with actual facts instead of just opinions who the ones who swayed me to believe it was basically a true account. Was it embellished to some degree, quite possibly but not necessarily. Back in the 1980s I spent two years proving that Margaret Mitchell, who wrote “Gone With The Wind” had lied when she made claimed she had made up her story from “whole cloth.” I was not only able to identify virtually every character in the book, as having been a relative, a neighbor, or someone who had worked with her relatives, i was able to track where almost every tiny facet of the story cane from. Almost none of what is considered one of the most loved pieces of fiction was actually fiction. So, other than the fact that it really was unusual for a wounded fighter to be saved by the Indians, i see no reason not to believe this account. And, the fact that it was unusual is certainly in no way proof that it didn’t happen in this case. As for it being unlikely that his lost love was living in the cabin that he rode to, that may sound unbelievable to some, but not to me. I am from South Carolina and the week before I was to marry a young lady in Maine, I was on a boat on a shipwreck salvage expedition in Lake Huron off Port Sanilac, Michigan. During a brief conversation with the boat captain, who I had hired, he noticed that the Tee Shirt I was wearing was from Bar Harbor, Maine, and asked if I was from there. It seems his cousin was getting married there the next week. Yes, his cousin was my soon to be bride. He had been invited to my wedding. Years later, I was telling my sister and her husband that story while we were eating dinner at a roof top restaurant in Paris, France. Minutes later some American tourists, at the next table, realizing we were Americans too, started charting with us. It turned out they were from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, which is where I was living at that time. We not only had mutual friends, two of those friends were getting married the next week and both they and my wife and I had been invited. So, coincidences definitely do happen.

  39. Interesting story especially since I have an uncle, Otis A Burton who grew up in Illinois.

  40. I knew a pastor by the name of Garcia. He preached in MO, then moved to Germany to be a chaplain for our military who were stationed there. While there, he went out to the machine gun bunker where his brother had been killed in WWII. He was walking around, kicked up some leaves and turned up his brother’s wallet. It had no money, but the pictures and the ID were readable. It was 40 years since his brother died near that spot. Who would have thought???

  41. I was orphaned and taken in at age 15 by native americans on the Cheyenne range and raised on a reservation. I can assure you that they did not torture me or mistreat me in any way. Quite the contrary I was treated just like one of their own. It pains me to see people write about how mean the native americans were, even back in the day. I heard stories that many of their ancestors were the ones that we really abused by “the white man”.

  42. He was from Bangor, PA, a town very close to the town of Lancaster, PA that published the original artice. Someone was assuming it was Bangor, Maine and that he was born in Maine.

  43. I just looked Otis up on Ancestry .com. There is an Otis from Maine. He later lived in Texas and his wife was Susan Payne originally from my State of Kentucky. They had a few kids one named after him. So I believe the story.

  44. This story goes to tell of true love. Even after years of separation their love for each other was still very much still alive. They finally were together and lived happily ever after.

  45. Jasus Christ People
    some of yall just quit nic pickin’.. its Just a story wrote back in the day.. So What its not or partial true one or not,,
    Want to nic pic theres alot more modern cra**p you can do that too quit being so small…

    • No ones nic pickin just to nic pic, just tryin to keep history correct. Not doin that is how things get wrote down wrong and then nobody knows for real what the devil really happened. If they didn’t qwestion who really come to discover america we still wouldnt know if it was colombus or somebody else. Thats the value of what you call nic picin. Just sayin.

  46. I found this quite interesting, especially when I discovered Otis is buried in Greenville, TX just a few minutes away from my office. There are historical records that confirm so many aspects of the story along the way that I believe the basic tale is true.

    I absolutely believe that truth can be stranger than fiction, and surely anyone who delves into genealogy will find proof of this. Here’s the most recent example from my family research: On my mother’s side, my 4th great-grandmother’s first husband was one of the last victims of the Harp brothers, who are known as the “first serial killers in America.” Over on my father’s side, I found that the wife of the younger Harp murderer was also in my tree, either a 5th great aunt or maybe cousin, still trying to nail that down for sure. She was indicted as an accomplice for the murder of my 4th great-grandmother’s husband, but was found not guilty and went on about her life. Totally bizarre but totally true.

  47. “Reunited against all odds” reaffirms a truth, that to the cynical will most certainly be, “stranger than fiction”. Yet for the many, the facts that matter are that to survive humans need hope and to enjoy life beyond survival humans need true love. Thank you for this love story meant to give us the hope that one day we may reunite with those we truly love regardless of the adversities we may be facing.

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