A few weeks ago, WikiTree sent out it’s weekly email. As always, it has a list of notable people that you can click on to view their ancestry. You can also see how you’re related to these people and other fun things. I’m almost always connected through my wife’s ancestry, so not directly genealogically.
That specific week it was notable musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. I was also curious about other musicians I enjoyed growing up. One that came to mind was Cliff Burton. He was the bassist in my favorite band of all time, Metallica. He played with them on their first three albums, but tragically died when Metallica’s tour bus crashed in rural Sweden during their 1986 Master of Puppets tour.
It was sad to find out that Cliff didn’t have a WikiTree profile. His father’s name was known since Cliff’s father Ray Burton was still very visible to fans of the band and he passed away last year in January 2020. It was enough to work with.
I’ve always wanted to do some genealogy research on a notable person and Cliff was good option. He wasn’t too famous where I’d feel like I was treading over already researched information, but he was still notable. He is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and listed as the ninth greatest bassist of all-time according to Rolling Stone.
Start At the Beginning
I started by creating the profile for Clifford Lee Burton and worked from there. Fortunately, his parents were already linked to him on Find-A-Grave, so I had names to work with: Ray Burton and Janette Morgenstern.
Janette’s was a bit tougher. I found her in the census records and her birth entry. Though, it only listed her mother and mother’s maiden name. Her parents were divorced sometime between her birth and the 1930 Census. So, I have her mother, Marion Rosenthal, but not her father (though I have some leads.)
There is currently only one more generation back for both lines as I want to make sure they are the right ancestors before adding. The Burton line goes deep into Tennessee, while the Morgenstern mainly stays in California. Though his great-grandfather, Sigmund Rosenthal, was born in Germany.
This is fun and interesting project. Hopefully, it will be able to connect Cliff’s line into the main connected family tree so other people can see how they’re connected!