The case of Stephen Baker Barnum, the patriarch of this family, is unique in that he apparently changed the spelling of his surname to Burnham later in life. That change is particularly interesting since the two surnames are quite distinct in the historical record and no other connection has been found between them.
William H. Burnham was born in either Connecticut or New York about 17 March 1818 to Stephen Baker Barnum (Burnham), born in Connecticut, and Martha Hill, born on Long Island. He married (1st) Anna Maria Smith (a teacher), born about 1821 from Easton, New York, and (2nd) Caroline "Carrie" Adaline M. Carley Smith, a physician and no relation to Anna. William and Anna's children were Henrietta Maria born 1842, Hannah Louise born New York 1843, Theodora (Dora Augusta) born Orange County, New York 1845, Mary Ellen born New York 1846, and Catharine (Cate) born Monticello, Sullivan County, New York on either 2 or 10 October 1852. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society biography, he married Carrie on 10 February 1854. However, he was enumerated in the 1856 US Census in Iowa, Benton County, Iowa with Anna and their children as well as Adaline and her son James Frederick. Adaline is listed as a widow in that census. William and Anna were divorced on 23 September 1857 in Benton County, Iowa. Obviously, therefore, the 2nd marriage must have been later than 1854. William and Adaline had two more children: Charles William Henry, born 1857/58 in Illinois, and William, born 1859 in Iowa (who probably died before 1870).
William H. died on 28 October 1879 at 334 Bowery, Manhattan, New York and was interred on 30 October 1879 in the Greenwood Cemetery in New York. He was buried with his parents Stephen Baker Burnham and Martha L. Hill, his brother Manley Augustus Burnham, Manley's wife Mary Carlow and Mary's sister Jeannette Carlow. Stephen B. and Martha were orginally interred in the York Bay Cemetery and moved to the Greenwood Cemetery (Lot 128 Section 171) by Manley in 1860.
William H. was a teacher, physician and farmer. He advertised in the Republican Watchman for his "Monticello Village School" in 1841. He also advertised for a lady teacher. That may be the way that he met his first wife, Anna Maria Smith. (Anna was a teacher, according to family lore).
By 1851-52 William advertised as a Physician and Surgeon, first in Stevensville (Swan Lake), Sullivan County and then in Monticello by April of 1852. In 1853 he was involved in a lawsuit against John Mapledoram. In 1853-1854 he was on the faculty of the Syracuse Medical College (Eclectic). He was the preceptor for
Adaline M. Smith, his future second wife. In the Republican Watchman he is listed as a Registrar as well as a professor at the college. He also claimed to be a member of Massachusetts Medical Society and the Lyceum of Natural History (at Williams College).
William graduated from Berkshire Medical College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1851. He and Anna were in the 1850 census (as Barnum) in Monticello. He and Adaline and the children were in Trenton, Henry County, Iowa and West Point, Iowa from about 1858 to 1864, later in Dell Prairie and then in Baraboo, Sauk County, Wisconsin.
He wrote under the title "A Life Long Democrat" for the Gate City and Hawkeye Newspapers. He was Grand Master of Ceremonies of the Patriotic Secret Order of the National Guard for the State of Iowa. He was appointed Surgeon for the 15th Iowa Regiment in November 1861 but was not mustered in; (at that time he was living in West point, Iowa. There is extensive correspondence from him to the Governor of Iowa in which he relates that the Regiment's Officers were slandering him in order that he not be mustered in as Surgeon. He is in Dell Prairie, Adams County, Wisconsin in the 1870 census. There is a reference in Cortez Langdon's pension file to the effect that Williamm was in Crawfordsville in 1865/1866. He practiced medicine there but became too ill to continue. He returned to New York City in January of 1872. He was a professor for two terms at Syracuse Medical
College in New York in 1854-55, where his second wife was a student and he was her preceptor. He and Caroline and their son C. W. H. Burnham had the Triumph Truss Co. in New York City and Philadelphia, for the cure of ruptured hernias.
In William's correspondence to the Governor of Iowa in 1862, he refers to "his venerable parents buried together in the same grave, under the Greenwood shade in (his) natal state". Stephen and Martha were buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in New York, along with William.
He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.