The Starr Family Plot at Bonaventure, Part Two

A couple of years ago, Sugar and I went to Bonaventure Cemetery to visit the Basingers and the Starrs.

The two family plots are directly across from each other.  Sugar’s great-grandfather was William Starr Basinger, whose mother was Jane Susan Starr Basinger.

In the Starr family plot is a marker for a child.  Sarah, the only daughter of Peter and Elizabeth Basinger, died in October 1816.  Sarah would have been William Starr Basinger’s aunt, for she was sister to William’s father Thomas Elisha Basinger. has a system that alerts you to a possible record that might relate to your family tree.  One of the alerts was a death record for Thomas Elisha Basinger, who died young at about age 36.

This caused me to think that I might be able to find more information about this family by manually scrolling through all the records.  I’ve done it before while looking for other dead people, and as much as it sounds like a giant boredomfest, it’s educational and entertaining.  And yes, it’s a giant time-suck, but somebody’s got to do it.

So I started with Sarah Basinger.  There were only 21 pages to look at for Savannah in 1816, and I knew that Sarah died in October, so I started looking at page 18, which had records for November.  I scrolled through a few pages to get to October, and I found Sarah, who died on October 2 from a fever and was buried the next day at Bonaventure.

Most of the deaths were from fever.  There was some disease very wicked going around.

What I did not expect to find, and that’s just the beauty of picking through old records, is Sarah’s father Peter.  He died on October 1, 1816, the day before his daughter Sarah, and was buried the following day, the very same day that she died.


Peter Basinger, age 43, and daughter Sarah Basinger, age 7, in 1816.

Peter’s wife Elizabeth had yet more pain to endure.  She had two remaining sons, Thomas Elisha and William Elon.  Both died young, William from battle in the Florida wars with the Indians in 1835.

Thomas Elisha Basinger, 1836.

Thomas Elisha Basinger, 1836.

Thomas Elisha died from delirium tremens.  I told Sugar about that, and he and I are guessing that Thomas Elisha was NOT an alcoholic, and that there must be some other cause of delirium tremens.  Sugar, being the brainiac that he is, has a theory.  Thomas Elisha’s father Peter was a hatter, which was more dangerous than it sounds.  “Mad as a hatter” referred to the mental condition from the slow poisoning from the mercury that was used in the process of making felt for the hats.  Sugar suggests that Thomas was exposed to mercury during his life from being with his father during the hat-making process, and one of the side-effects of this type of poisoning is delirium tremens.  A reference to the “mad hatter’s disease” can be found at this Wikipedia link.

Finally, I found Elizabeth’s death record.  She died at age 61 from cancer.


Elizabeth Tondee Elon Basinger, 1846.

And here we are almost two hundred years after the death of Peter and Sarah, and I can’t even begin to imagine Elizabeth’s grief.

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