The Burgum family history society is a member of the Guild of one name studies and researches the names

Thomas Ebenezer Burgum (1886-1975)

Tom Burgum, the subject of this story, belongs to the "AA" family tree and was father to the late Arthur Burgum of West Sussex.

After long spells of unemployment in England, Thomas Burgum (senior) emigrated to Australia. He settled at Rockhampton, in Queensland, found work on the railway and eventually built a small house. Only then did he send for Drucilla Heywood, his fiancee, who had remained in England. On 7th December 1885 the couple were married and, on Christmad Day 1886, they were rewarded with their first child, Thomas Ebenezer Burgum. Initially the family prospered and young Tom found himself with two sisters, Eva and Nellie. In 1890 the house was lost in floods and, soon afterwards, Thomas (senior) was injured on the railway. He never fully recovered, lost his job, and found other work hard to come by.

Thomas and Drucilla had become interested in a Socialist Society that had settled land given to them by the Paraguayian Government. A decision was made to join them and, in 1895, the family booked passage on board the S.S. Tongario (picture right). At Montevideo, they transferred to a river boat, then a train and finally to a wagon pulled by oxen. At last they arrived at Cosme, a small village newly built in the virgin jungle. The members of the village worked for the collective good and all the food produced was stored and centrally distributed. After six months, Thomas had to decide whether to become a full member of the society, committing himself and his worldly possessions to the cause. On balance, he decided the family's future lay elsewhere.

This time the family travelled to England. Drucilla's father found rooms for them, Thomas found himself a job and the children were sent to school. Within a year they had taken over the shop at 94 Trinity Street, Canning Town, owned by Drucilla's father. Young Tom left school at fourteen and obtained a five year appreticeship at the Thames Iron works. Also the Ironworks fell on hard times and young Tom, like his father before him, found work hard to come by. Two of young Tom's uncles had settled in Brazil, John in Rio de Janeiro, and San in Campos, and it was Sam who offered Tom a job in Brazil. The journey took three weeks and young Tom was met, in Rio, by John Burgum and his family. He spent a week in Rio, touring the city by mule-drawn tram. Finally he boarded his train to make the 200 mile journey to Campos, where he was met by Sam and his family, including Dora (19), Amy (17), Samuel (15), Albert (12) and Alfred (7). Sam and his family lived in a fine house with eight bedrooms, a billiards room and stables. Sam was in charge of the fresh water and sewage system for Campos (owned by a British company) as well as holding down the post of British Consol. Young Tom was given work at the pumping station and soon found himself in charge during his shift. The main form of transport remained the horse or the mule-cart and Tom spent much of his time riding, often venturing into the dense forest about an hours ride from the town.

Tom's new life, comfortable and enjoyable, was not to last. The Brazilian Government decided to take over the entire water works belonging to the company and San and Tom were given six months notice. Sam took his family to Rio, taking up a temporary job, while Tom remained in Campos to serve out his notice. After much thought Tom decided that his future lay in England and, in 1906, four years after his arrival, he bade farewell to his friends and left for Rio. There he spent the final days with his uncle and cousins before boarding the ship which was to take him to England. The ship arrived in Liverpool, where Tom stayed for the next four days. He was met by a cousin who owned a small business there. During the next few days, he visted many sights in the city including St George's Hall, Walker Art Gallery and Liverpool Museum. Tom was shown two exhibits in the museum which were of particular interest; a large stuffed tiger and a very large monkey. Tom was told that both had been shot by his great uncle, who had presented them to the museum. Tom was later introduced to this man, an elderly gentleman of 82. Who was this man?

A substantial Burgum family still live in Liverpool ("DD" family tree), but I have so far been unable to link them to Tom's family and thereby to the "AA" family tree. The museum exhibits no longer exist, although I hope to search of their records (one day!) will give us a clue. Tom finally returned home to an emotional reunion with his family. Tom's father continued to suffer from his railway accident in Australia and Tom decide to expand his parent's business in the shop with street trading. He also became deputy organist at the Shirley Street Methodist Church, in Canning Town. A cycle club was associated with the church and it was there that Tom met Annie Clarke. In 1911, Tom and Annie were married. Tom's parents retired from the shop, leaving Tom and Annie to run the business. A year later, their first child, Arthur Thomas was born and the business was slowly expanded. In later years, three more children were born; Winifred May (1916), Gladys Edna (1922) and Olive (1924).

In 1914 war clouds began to gather over Europe and Tom wound down his outdoor trading and took a driver/delivery job. He was delivering in East London when a great explosion occurred, blowing out shop windows. The sky glowed red - it was the great Silvertown explosion, which was felt all over London. Tom joined the Navy and began working as a R.N.A.S. fitter. He remained in the London area and was allowed to sleep at home. Later, the R.N.A.S. merged with the R.A.F. but Tom remained in London and at home. Finally the war ended and Annie continued to run the shop, while Tom obtained a job working for BP selling motor spirit. He worked at Becton, then Hackney Wick and watched as the sale of motor spirit gave way to petrol pumps and bulk delivery.

All went well for Tom and he bought a piece of land at Tarpots, in Essex, where he built himself and his family a bungalow. He continued to deliver fuel through the 1930's and World War Two, retiring in 1947 without ever having an accident. Tom died in 1975 having lived a full and happy life.