02/13/11 338 W - + 3 - 2 Researching an Oxford Fallen Firefighter From 1935

This morning's pre-breakfast activity is augmenting my fallen firefighter records. My data was last collected in 2007, with research in public records and other sources. Everything was passed along to the North Carolina Fallen Firefighter's Foundation, to help their records. My history site database is out of date, and I am slowly working on an updated version. (Do a little research, then work on the other dozen-plus fire department projects on my plate.)

One old-new fallen firefighter is Scott Burwell, a member of the Oxford Fire Department and who died March 15, 1935. Source is the NCFFF web site for those but no other details. The best source for additional data is the death certificate, but that requires a physical visit to Olivia Raney Local History Library and either microfilm or their subscription to Ancestry.com. There is pretty good death information on the Family Search web site, including many of the data fields included in death certificates.

Search Family Search for Scott Burwell who died in Oxford, NC, in 1935, and no matching results return. Searching for any Burwell  finds William Manor Burwell, who died in Oxford on that date. Sounds like a potential match. His race is listed as black. Ding goes the idea bell and next checked is my annotated copy of Early Black Firefighters of North Carolina. In the Oxford section, Scott Burwell is listed as a member of the town's colored fire company.

His cause of death is noted, fell from the running board while responding to a fire and died of his injuries. Its source is a historical article from the newspaper in 2005. That tells me that even the fire department itself probably lists the name "Scott" in their records. Is William Manor Burwell, age 50, also Scott Burwell? Next step will be the death certificate, at the next opportune time to visit the library. More later, and perhaps even a discussion of the ethics of presenting such historical records on firefighter fatalities.

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