Star TXGenWeb Project Star USGenWeb Project Star

Milam County, Texas

[flag divider bar]

Milam County, Texas: List of Honor --
Individuals Who Have Given Their Lives in the
Defense of Their Country from World War I through Vietnam

[flag divider bar]

Lenon Thomas Burgess [1], [2], [3]

Baker Second Class, U.S. Navy, World War I


Service No.: 165-26-37

Born: 6 Jul 1899 at Milam Co., Texas (also found: 28 Jul 1899 at Rockdale, Texas)

Missing Presumed Dead: 3/4 Mar 1918 at Barbados, British West Indies, Lesser Antilles

Declared Dead: 14 Jun 1918

Age at time of loss: 18 years, 7 months, 28 days (plus or minus)

Home of Record: Burlington, Milam Co., Texas (also found: Falls Co., Texas)

Race: Caucasian

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Farmer Labor

Attended: unknown

Religion: Methodist

Draft Registration: Not found in Milam County, Texas

Entered Service: 15 Apr 1917 at Dallas, Texas

Overseas Duty: unknown

Ship/Unit: USS Cyclops from 21 Nov 1917 to 15 Jun 1918

Casualty Type: Non-hostile, ship lost at sea

Cause of Death: lost at sea

Casualty Location: West Indies

Soundex Code: B-622

Census: 1900 Federal Census Soundex - Milam Co., TX, 1910 Federal Census Soundex - Milam Co., TX

Parents: Henry Thomas Burgess and Stella Jane Davenport Burgess, Lockdale, Milam Co., TX

Brothers: William Emmett Burgess, Woodrow Wilson Burgess

Sisters: Gertrude Burgess Pruitt, Bell Burgess, Blanch Burgess Vinton, Velma Burgess Davenport, Gladys Burgess Belt, Myrtle Burgess Ford (Mrs. Ben), Florene Burgess Anthis

Paternal Grandparents: James Robert Burgess (veteran, Capt. James Walker's Company, 2nd Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles [also known as: Co. G and Co. D, 2nd Regiment, Texas Cavalry] Confederate States Army) and Elizabeth Falwell Burgess

Maternal Grandparents: John Davenport and Bell ____________ Davenport (?)

Wife: None

Children: None

Burial: Body Not Recovered

Arrangements: None

Milam County War Memorial: Left Panel

USS Cyclops (1910-1918)

Photographed by the New York Navy Yard, probably while anchored
in the Hudson River, NY, on 3 October 1911. [17]

USS Cyclops

The second USS Cyclops was a collier (a ship for transporting coal) and was launched on 7 May 1910 by William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia, PA. The word "cyclops" is found in Greek mythology and is defined as a race of giants with only one eye.

With the United States' entry into World War I, the Cyclops was commissioned on 1 May 1917 with Lieutenant Commander G. W. Worley in command. She joined a convoy of ships headed for St. Nazaire, France, in June 1917, returning to the east coast in Jul. Except for a voyage to Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada), she served along the east coast until 9 Jan 1918 when she was assigned to Naval Overseas Transportation Service. She then sailed to Brazilian waters to fuel British ships in the South Atlantic, receiving the thanks of the State Dept. and the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific. She put to sea from Rio de Janerio on 16 Feb 1918 and after touching at on 3 and 4 Mar 1918, was never heard from again. Her loss without a trace is one of the sea's unsolved mysteries.

4 Mar 1918. Disappearance of the Cyclops. The collier Cyclops, Lt.Comm. George W. Worley, USNRF, puts out from Barbados, British West Indies, with a crew of 280 and is never seen again. [10]

The USS Cyclops grossed 19,360 tons and mysteriously disappeared with 309 lives lost (15 officers and 221 men, passengers: 6 naval officers, 64 naval men, 2 marines and U.S. Consul). [11]

Deck Logs, USS Cyclops [12]

Entry for 21 Nov 1917 indicates that at "3:20 P.M. L. T. Burgess, Baker 2-C, reported on board for duty, from Receiving Ship at New York." The Cyclops was at the Navy Yard, New York, NY.

"Exorcising the Devil's Triangle" [13]
by Howard L. Rosenberg [14]

The events surrounding the disappearance of the USS Cyclops is one of the most celebrated stories of the area known as the Devil's Triangle or as the Bermuda Triangle.

Richard Winer, in his television programs, indicated the captain of the Cyclops was rather eccentric. He was reputedly fond of pacing the quarterdeck wearing only his underwear, a hat and carrying a cane. Prior to the Cyclops' disappearance, there was a minor mutiny by some members of the crew which was promptly squelched by the captain and the perpetrators who were sent below in irons. None of this really offers a clue to what happened to the ship, but it suggests something other than a mysterious force might have led to her doom.

According to Marshall Smith, writing in Cosmopolitan, September 1973, "theories ranged from mutiny at sea to a boiler explosion which carried away the radio shack and prevented any distress call." One magazine, Literary Digest, speculated that a giant octopus rose from the sea, entwined the ship with it tentacles and dragged it to the bottom. Another theory was that the shipped suddenly turned turtle in a freak storm, trapping all hands inside.

The Cyclops was assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, which became the Naval Transportation Service and then Military Sealift Command. When she sailed, she was loaded with 10,800 tons of manganese ore bound for Baltimore, MD from Barbados in the West Indies.

Information obtained from Germany following World War I, disproved the notion that enemy U-boats or mines sank the Cyclops. None were in the area.

"Giant U.S. Naval Collier Cyclops Missing Vessel
and 293 Aboard Lost Since March 4th With No Trace of Fate" [15]

International News Services. Washington D.C., April 14 -- The United States Navy collier Cyclops with 293 officers, passengers and crew has disappeared from the face of the ocean.

She has been missing since March 4, when the last word of her was received from a West Indian port. She was coming up the Atlantic coast of South America with a cargo of manganese and was due at an Atlantic port on March 13.

She is now one month and one day overdue.

Navy Department officials are utterly at a loss to account for her mysterious fate. The course of the vessel is reported free from sea raiders and submarines; no considerable storms have prevailed in the vicinity; no accounts of floating wreckage have been brought in by other vessels; no distress calls have been caught from the Cyclops, although she carried a powerful wireless; no small boats have been picked up and none has reported from any refuge point.

This is the greatest single blow the United States has suffered since it entered the war.

The Cyclops was commanded by Lieut. Commander G. W. Worley, U.S.N., R.F., and among her passengers was A. L. Moreau Gottschalk, Consul General from the United States to Rio Janeiro, Brazil.....

Texans on board the Cyclops were .... Leonard T. Burgess, cook, Burlington ...

Letter from Secretary of the Navy [16]

Date: June 12, 1918
From: Secretary of the Navy
To: Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Subject: Re official declaration of death of men on board the Navy Collier CYCLOPS.

1. The following named enlisted men in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps should be officially declared dead as of June 14, 1918 - deaths having occurred in the line of duty and through no misconduct on their own.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Note on letter: Secretary's annual Report for 1918 states "CYCLOPS was finally given up as lost and her name stricken from the registry."

List Men lost on U.S. Cyclops, June 12, 1918 .....Burgess, Lamon (sic) Thomas, Baker 2d Class, U.S.N.


[1] U.S. Navy, World War I, p. 147

[2] Individual Deceased Personnel 293 File, Office of the Quarter Master General Burial Case Files, 1915-1939 (Record Group 92), National Archives Building, Washington, DC

[3] Military Service Card (Library Bureau Form 26-1533), Texas Military Forces Museum, Adjutant General of Texas, Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas

[4] No Texas Dept. of Health Death Certificate found in the Death Index 1903-1940

[5] WWI Draft Registration, Milam Co., TX, M-1507, Roll 124

[6] Texas, T-1073, Roll 28

[7] Texas, T-1277, Roll 25

[8] Interview with his son, Lenon Burgess on 21 Jan 1998

[9] Mooney, vol. II, p. 226

[10] Sweetman, p. 138

[11] American Ship Casualties of the World War, p. 3

[12] 1917 Deck Log, USS Cyclops (Record Group 24), National Archives Building, Washington, DC

[13] Dept. of the Navy, Naval Historical Center Home Page - Frequently Asked Questions

[14] Rosenberg, p. 11-15

[15] San Antonio Express, 15 Apr 1918, p. 1 & 2.

[16] U.S. Navy Subject File 1910-1927, USS Cyclops (Record Group 45), National Archives Building, Washington, DC

[17] Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S.
National Archives. Photo #: 19-N-13451

[flag divider bar]

BACK to Milam County War Dead - Main Page

BACK to Milam County TXGenWeb Page

Originally created Jan 1998, moved on 16 June 2004 and last revised on _______ 2004