R. BURNS was born in Goreville Township in August, 1818. He is a son of
James P. Burns, of Alabama, who was born in 1804, and was a son of John
Burns, also a native of Alabama, and a farmer of that State, who died
there when nearly one hundred years old. He reared a family of three
sons and two daughters, of whom James P. was one of the eldest. They
are all dead but Henry, a farmer of Goreville Township, and his sister,
Sarah, wife of Silas Clarke, of Franklin County, 111. The wife of James
P. Burns, mother of Benjamin R., was Elizabeth Hubbard, of Missouri,
and daughter of John Hubbard, who died in Johnson County at a great age.
James P. Burns and his wife had eight children, six sons and two daughters, of whom the subject of this sketch is the sixth child. They were married in Tennessee, moved thence to Missouri and finally to Illinois, in 1845. They were well-to-do farmers and made these several movements and journeys by means of their own teams. They were on their way from Missouri to Alabama late in the fall, when they made a stop in Illinois on account of bad roads and bad weather, and having to remain in Illinois some time anyway, Mr. Burns made up his mind to rent land here for one year, and he was so well pleased with the soil and climate that he decided to remain here permanently. He was one of the first to settle in this part of the County, and had, of course, but few neighbors. He had to go six or seven miles to a logging bee. He soon bought a settler's claim and improvements of ten acres, built a cabin, cleared up a good farm and secured a deed to one hundred and twenty acres of land. Before his death he owned two hundred and forty acres in three separate farms, all well improved and well stocked. He lost his first wife about 1844, when she was in the prime of life, she dying of a cancer in the breast. She left eight children, one an infant. Mr. Burns was married the second time, to Mrs. Polly Ford, nee Davis, and a daughter of John Davis, who came to Illinois at a very early day. By this marriage there were three sons and three daughters, and thus there were fourteen children by the two wives. He died in November, 1890, aged eighty-six years. His wife followed him forty-four days later at the age of fifty-three. Of these children there are living of the first wife's five sons and one daughter, and of those by the second wife one son and three daughters.
Benjamin R. Burns was reared at home on the farm and had rather poor educational advantages, having to go three miles to school. The district was then large and there were two schoolhouses in the remote corners, one half the term being held in one house and one half in the other house. After passing his fifteenth year he had better opportunities and obtained a good English education. He remained at home until his twenty-seventh year, when he was married, in May, 1876, to Eliza J. Toler, a native of Union County, Ill., and daughter of W. D. and Highly (Miles) Toler, both natives of Illinois. They are now retired farmers living at Anna, Ill.
Mr. and Mrs. Burns are living at their first home. They bought forty acres in 1876 for $550, having but slight improvements, and in 1882 they added forty acres more of railroad land, bought for $200. In 1892, they bought sixteen acres more ,for $320, making their farm consist of ninety-six acres, of which about twenty acres are broken. They built the first part of their present nice frame house in 1882, and completed it in 1887. Mr. and Mrs. Burns have lost two sons, infants, and have two sons and one daughter living, viz: Charles M., fourteen years old; McCurtis, eight, and Leonora J., four. Mr. Burns does not belong to any church or to any secret society, but he votes the Republican ticket, and has had his choice of Presidents except twice. He carries on general farming and is a thorough and practical farmer. Being industrious and correct in his business habits, and being a pleasant gentleman, he is not only popular, but also highly esteemed.
transcribed by Nan Starjak
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