BURR, THOMAS, one of Sangamon County's oldest and most highly esteemed citizens, who is in good health and still looks after his truck garden on the edge of Springfield, Ill., has been engaged in his present business for about thirty-five years, and is now eighty-three years of age. Mr. Burr was born in England, May 2, 1828, a son of William Burr, also a native of England, where he spent his entire life and lived on one farm over fifty years. William Burr died at the age of ninety-six years old and had seven brothers who served in the British Army during the Revolutionary War, also in the war with France, taking part in the Battle of Waterloo, and died in England. His wife, Elizabeth Kemsley, spent her entire life in England, and both her parents and those of her husband were natives of England.
Thomas Burr received a meager education in his native country, leaving school to go to work at the age of twelve years, and when he was but nine years old he worked for a time on a farm at twelve cents per day. As a young man he emigrated to the United States, sailing in the ship "Southampton", from London Docks, on Thursday, March 24, 1853, and arriving in New York City, May 2nd. His only sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, lives in Springfield, and he has one brother, James, living at Raneham, England. He has a distinct memory of Queen Victoria as she looked upon the day of her marriage, and also remembers the death of the Duke of Wellington. After locating in Springfield he saw several illustrious men, including Douglas, Grant, Lincoln and Blaine.
After coming to America Mr. Burr spent three years in Ohio, then worked for a time on a cattle ranch, and after spending three years in Springfield, Ill., returned to Ohio. In 1863 he located permanently in Springfield, and has since carried on farming and gardening. He has been successful in truck gardening and is naturally industrious and thrifty.
Mr. Burr was married in Ohio, in 1857, to Miss Martha Young, a native of Ohio, who lived but four years after her marriage, dying at Woodside, Ill., in 1860. She bore her husband one daughter, Amy, who married Amos Young of Springfield, and had six children, three of whom survive: James, Minnie and Edward. Mr. Burr married as his second wife his first wife's sister, Nancy Young, in Columbus, Ohio, August 1, 1860. They at once located in Sangamon County and became parents of one daughter, Belle, born in Woodside Township, Sangamon County, who married John Dexheimer, of Springfield, and had eleven children, of whom two daughters and seven sons survive: Theodore, Mabel, Harry, Roy, Grace, Johnnie, Orlin, Maynard and one other. The second Mrs. Burr died May 29, 1899, and Mr. Burr lives with his daughter, Mrs. Dexheimer, at the old home, 1710 South Fifth Street, Springfield. Mr. Burr has seven great-grandchildren; Charles and Thelma King; Merle Dexheimer; Norman, Esther, Amy and Bertha Gagnon.
Mr. Burr was stopping at the old American House in Springfield when Buchanan was elected President. He met Abraham Lincoln many times and holds pleasant memories of that great man. He is well known among the old settlers of Sangamon County and remembers many events of the earlier history of the region. He is public-spirited and enterprising and ready to support any worthy object which comes to his notice. He has a comfortable home at Laurel Avenue and fifth Street and is in good financial circumstances as a result of hard work and careful management. He is a faithful member of the First Methodist Church, and is a warm supporter of the principles of the Republican party.