I was asked what I knew about Elizabeth Harper Burgess. Before that question I knew very little, I didn’t even have her middle name. After a bit of research I now know quite a bit. Elizabeth was the child of Charles Frederick Burgess, born Jan 5, 1873 in Wisconsin and Ida May Jackson, born Dec 27, 1872 in Missouri. Her parents were married in Wisconsin Jun 25, 1903.
This line of the Thomas Burgess branch had moved to Nova Scotia, Canada from Massachusetts in the mid 1700s and would remain there until the mid 1800s where they would return to Massachusetts briefly and then move on to Wisconsin.
Charles Frederick Burgess would make his mark on the world by creating the Burgess Battery.
“The Originator of the Burgess Battery
Charles Frederick Burgess was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on January 5, 1873. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with an electrical engineering degree in 1895. He then took up a study of physical chemistry and electrochemistry while teaching. He became well known for his research on electrolytic iron and dry cells. He founded the Burgess battery Company and published many of his research and developments in the transactions of the Society. He and his organization were engaged in many technical developments: dry batteries, acoustical products, measuring instruments and methods for noise control, the utilization of wood wastes, development of new clay products, and building materials.
Charles Burgess was elected to President of The American Electrochemical Society in 1907. He was awarded prestigious Perkin Medal on January 8, 1932 "in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments and achievements, notably in the field of electrochemistry". He was made an Honorary Member of The electrochemical Society in 1932 and received the Edward Goodrich Acheson Medal Award "for his many and varied inventions and accomplishments" on October 8, 1942.”
I can only assume this is where the story for Elizabeth’s move to England started. By 1926 the Burgess family was frequent passengers on ships to France and England. The last American Census that Elizabeth would appear in would be the 1920 Census in Wisconsin. From the ships passengers list I found that her parents would move first to Illinois in the mid 1920s, on to New York City by 1931 and Florida in 1934. She would lose both of her parents in 1945, her father Feb 13, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois and her mother Dec 17, 1945 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Across the pond in England would be her future husband, Eric John Lea Cotton, born Jun 4, 1900 in Beechrome, Earl Shelton, Leicestershire, England. Eric’s family owned a shoe manufacturing company and they were also known to travel back and forth to the states. The most interesting ships passengers’ entry I found for Eric and his parents was the passenger list dated Jun 3 1928, heading for the states, just 6 days before his marriage to Elizabeth. They would return to England to live and more ships records showed of their travels back to the states for business and pleasure in the following years.
Elizabeth’s brother Jackson would remain in the states, living mostly in Illinois and marry Jean Elizabeth Thomas. They were both born in Wisconsin, raised 2 daughters and would leave this life in Fort Myers, Florida.