Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm. Scanned from a copy held by the State Library of Kansas.
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Mr. Burns is one of the original Town Company of the city of Concordia and is one of her most highly esteemed citizens. He has not achieved the success financially that some of his fellow citizens have, but he is one of those old pioneers who helped pave the way for the glory of those who came later. But Mr. Burns possesses a good name which adversities nor even poverty can dissipate.

He is a native of Platt county, Missouri, born August 13, 1840. His father was the Reverend Isaac Burns, of Virginia birth and Scotch origin. Reverend Burns was a pioneer of Missouri, settling at St. Joseph when that city was a village. He was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church (North), and during the latter part of the 'fifties Missouri became an undesirable field for a non-sympathizing dispenser of the gospel. In the autumn of 1856 he was transferred to the Iowa conference and subsequently to Nebraska where he had charge of the Tecumseh work, followed by various charges incident to the itinerant circuit rider. He was stationed at Falls City, DeSoto and later was made presiding elder with residence in Omaha, where he died in 1871. Mr. Burns' mother was Phoebe Persinger, of Dutch persuasion. She died one year later than her husband. The Persingers were early settlers in Virginia, where some of them were slaveholders.

Mr. Burns received a good education in the high schools of Nebraska and attended Scotts Academy, of Platt county, Missouri, for one year. He began earning a livelihood by teaching school and gave up this vocation to serve his country and enlisted in Company E, Twenty-fifth Regiment, Missouri Volunteers, under Colonel Seabody, serving three years and nine days. His company was in the battles of Shiloh, Pittsburg Landing, the siege of Atlanta and with Sherman at Savannah. The Twenty-fifth Regiment was merged into another company and took the name of the First Missouri Engineer Corps.

After the war Mr. Burns returned to DeSoto, Nebraska, visiting his father, who was stationed there. Soon afterward he went to Mills county, where he engaged in the saw milling business with fairly good success. Two years later he became interested with his father in mercantile pursuits at Aurora, on the Weeping river. One year later they removed their goods to Penn, Nebraska; the next spring Mr. Burns retired from the firm and emigrated to Kansas, where he took advantage of his homestead right, and also pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land where the town of Rice now stands. The other tract of land he disposed of to the county and is now included in the county farm for the poor.

Mr. Burns filed on land where part of Concordia is now situated, which he platted as an addition. The original Town Company was more interested in building a town than increasing their bank accounts. Lots that sold for one hundred dollars would now bring from three to four thousand. They had never built a town before. Were they ever to build another they would in all probability profit from past experiences. Mr. Burns has been engaged in several enterprises. In 1871 he associated himself with W.T.S. May in the real estate business. In the early 'eighties he established a drug store in Scandia, remaining two years, returning to Concordia, selling the stock one year later.

Mr. Burns was married to Almira, daughter of Jacob Brisbine, in 1872. To Mr. and Mrs. Burns four children have been born: Arthur, an employe of the Natal Railroad Company in South Africa. He is a telegrapher; received his education and entered upon his profession in Concordia. Clara B., wife of James McCoy, a railway mail clerk, with residence in Kansas City. Robert William, with Rigby & Wilson, furniture dealers, of Concordia, where he has been a trusted and valued employe. Charles Frederick is a telegrapher, with residence in Kansas City. Mr. Burns votes the Republican ticket.