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  • Writer's pictureKristin Wenger

Hall of Fame Coach (#52Ancestors week 41: Sports)

Many people enjoy sports as a hobby. Only a small percentage can turn athletics into a professional career. An even tinier fraction find enough success in sports to be inducted into a state hall of fame. To my great surprise, I have one of those rare individuals in my family tree.

Portrait from the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame [1]

My mom told me that my great grandmother Alma’s youngest brother, Paul Burnum, was a football coach in Alabama. (I previously wrote about their father, Dr. F.B. Burnum of Cullman, Alabama). However, it wasn’t until I started researching him that I realized that he was actually sort of famous. This is the first relative I’ve discovered who has an entry in Wikipedia!

You can read an overview of Paul Burnum’s coaching career here.

I have to admit, it was so refreshing to be able to click into the links of the references and read about him rather than scrounging to find information as I usually do. Two highlights:

Of course, Wikipedia only offered a snapshot of Paul Burnum’s career in sports. For those interested in reading more, check out pages 102-104 describing his football dynasty in the digitized book Tales from Alabama Prep Football. [2]

There is no question that Paul Burnum left his mark on Alabama sports!


In light of his prominence, one detail left me scratching my head. Wikipedia, The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and the following newspaper article about his 75th birthday all indicate that he was born on 6 February 1900. [3] (For a more legible version of the article, click here).

Celebrating his "75"th birthday in 1975

However, his social security death record, enumeration in the 1910 census at age eight, and even his gravestone, show that he was born two years later on 6 February 1902. [4]

Did he fudge his age earlier in his life to appear older for some reason? Was it an honest mistake? Who knows? But it was a great reminder to always verify facts with your own research even when the work seems to be done for you!


[1] Photo from Alabama Sports Hall of Fame ( : accessed 5 October 2018).

[2] Ron Ingram and Rubin E. Grant, “Dynasties,” Tales from Alabama Prep Football (Sports Publishing LLC, 2006), 102-104; digitized at Google Books ( : accessed 5 October 2018).

[3] “Paul Burnum,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 5 October 2018). Also, “Paul F. Burnum,” Alabama Sports Hall of Fame ( : accessed 5 October 2018). Also, Milton Grishman, “Coach Burnum Honored at 75,” The Tuscaloosa News (Tuscaloosa, Alabama), 7 February 1975, page 3, columns 2-3; digitized at Google News Archive ( : accessed 5 October 2018).

[4] "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), Paul Burnum, Sep 1981; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing). Also, "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 October 2018), Paul Burnum, age 8, in household of Francis B Burman, Cullman, Cullman, Alabama, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 21, sheet 18A, family 372, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 10; FHL microfilm 1,374,023. For gravestone photo, see Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 05 October 2018), memorial page for Paul Burnum (6 Feb 1900–14 Sep 1981), Find A Grave Memorial no. 120263669, citing Tuscaloosa Memorial Park, Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Peterborough K (contributor 46537737), photograph by “along_the_road.”

1 則留言

John Eric Burnum
John Eric Burnum

9-9-21. Hello cousin!!! Just happened upon your blog. Excellent info!!! Paul Burnum and I are cousins and share the same ancestry, my g-g-g grandfather Joel Burnum, b. 1783 (Paul's g-g grandfather). Paul descends from Dr. Simpson Alexander Burnum. I descend through Dr. S.A. Burnum's brother --- William Toles Burnum. I am a Trial Attorney in Moulton, Alabama, and an amateur genealogist. Your ancestor Alma Burnum Groenendaal lived quite the interesting life! Keep up the good work. ~ John Eric Burnum.

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