Jeffry Christian Burden was elected the 59th Commander-in-Chief on October 15, 2011, and was the first member of the Virginia Commandery to hold that office.
Companion Burden was a founding member of the Virginia Commandery in 1997. He has served the Commandery as Commander and Recorder. Companion Burden bases his Loyal Legion membership on the service of 1st Lieutenant Montraville Cyrus Bailey, Company I, 22nd Maine Infantry. Besides Lieutenant Bailey, he is a direct or collateral descendant of eight known other Union soldiers, including his great-great grandfather, 2nd Sgt. Milton Lingo, Company G, 22nd Iowa Infantry. He has a cousin relationship to six known other Union soldiers.
Companion Burden was born in Los Angeles in 1960, and grew up both in northern and southern California. He began his undergraduate studies at the University of California at Irvine before continuing work at the University of Missouri. He received the Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1982 from Mizzou. After three years as a television news reporter, producer, and anchor in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he attended law school at the University of Richmond and received his law degree in 1988. He has lived and worked in Virginia since.
A long-time freelance writer on Civil War-related topics, Companion Burden’s works have appeared in America’s Civil War, Civil War Regiments, and the Washington Times, among other periodicals. In 2008, he edited and published Vanishing Footprints: The Twenty-Second Iowa Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War (Camp Pope Press), a previously unpublished regimental history by the 22nd’s Adjutant, Samuel D. Pryce. He is recognized as a leading authority on that regiment.
He is a regular guest speaker at National Park Service events around Richmond. In addition, he has also been a featured speaker at a number of Civil War round tables; Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg; annual conferences of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine; and at meetings of various heritage and historical groups throughout Virginia.
Companion Burden serves on the advisory committee for the Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, and also serves on the Lincoln Bicentennial Sub-Committee of Virginia’s Martin Luther King Commission. The Lincoln sub-committee currently is involved in planning observances for the Emancipation Proclamation Sesquicentennial in 2013. In these roles, he has helped shape the Commonwealth’s commemorations.
A primary focus for Companion Burden has been Richmond’s historic Shockoe Hill Cemetery; burial place of Chief Justice John Marshall and famed Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew, among others. In 2002, he organized placement of a large marker to recognize more than 500 Union Army Prisoners of War buried near the cemetery during the war. A website, http://soldiersofshockoehill.com, recounts his and the Commandery’s efforts, which resulted in Companion Burden receiving the Loyal Legion’s Meritorious Service Medal in 2003. He is active with the “Friends of Shockoe Hill Cemetery,” a citizen’s group that develops public programs, and supports the City in preserving and maintaining the cemetery and its grounds.
Companion Burden is a member of the Colonel James D. Brady Camp #63, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; and of the Connecticut State Society of the Society of the Cincinnati. He married Kathleen Decker in 1990. They have two children, Alex, a student at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia (also a Companion); and Sarah, a student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
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