Submitted by Descendants: Alexander P., Lindsay M., and Richard E. BURNSED
James M. Burnsed was born 16 January 1817 in Georgia. In the late 1830’s, he moved from Georgia to Columbia County, Florida, and settled near the trail from the St. Mary’s River to the Raulerson Ferry, building a fortified house, the Burnsed Blockhouse, as protection from the Seminole Indian raids.
In 1840, his marriage to Eliza Motes was registered in Jacksonville, and he also appeared on the 1840 census residing in Columbia County. He appeared in all subsequent Florida censuses until his death. In the first statewide election in 1845, he was an election inspector for the Cedar Creek precinct of Columbia County.
In the 1850’s, he was a Justice of the Peace, and, when Baker County was formed in 1861, he was the county’s first sheriff, a position he held until 1867. He served in the Civil War as a Captain in the Florida Home Guards. He was chairman of the Baker County School Board in 1878.
Eliza died between 1870 and 1880, and he married a widow, Julia Brown Starling on 10 December 1882.
James and Eliza had 10 children, and he had another son by Julia.
He died on 24 April 1885, and is buried in Cedar Creek Cemetery in Baker County.
The Burnsed Blockhouse now sits in Baker County Historical Park.
James M. Burnsed was first established as a Florida Pioneer in 2004