Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
BURTON, JOHN DAVID - Sangamon County is noted for its men who know the business of farming in all its details, and of the townships Loami has its full share, prominent among them being John David Burton, who carries on agricultural and stock-raising operations, on Section 14. Mr. Burton was born in this township, August 14, 1855, and has been a resident here all of his life with the exception of eight years. He is a son of David S. and Elizabeth (Tharpe) Burton, he a native of Ohio and she of Lawrence County, Va., just over the Ohio state line.
After their marriage these parents came to Illinois, settling in the southern part of the State, in what is known as the American Bottoms, but the overflow of the river caused them to leave that section. Mr. Burton made a sort of trough or canoe out of a large log and moved his family and his household goods to a higher spot until he could find a place to locate permanently. Subsequently, he came to Sangamon County on foot, and purchased a fifteen-acres tract at the Half Way Place, between Loami and Springfield, on which he built a log house. Purchasing a team of oxen, he returned to the southern part of the State and brought his wife and child, Jincy Ann, who had been born at that place, to the new home in Sangamon County. He began at once to clear away the timber on his place, hauling it to Curran, where he sold it to the Wabash Railroad. A very handy an with an axe, he was able at times to chop five cords of wood in a day, and he also made rails, hauling them at night, thus being able to rapidly clear his farm of the timer as well as indebtedness. Having secured enough money clear off all of his obligation, he started to Springfield in the snow with his toes stick through his shoes. It happened that Mr. Burton's currency was old State Bank money and gold at that time was at a twenty-five percent premium; consequently the man refused to accept the money in payment for the land, and being an uneducated man, Mr. Burton did not know what to do. Governor Yates, the great War Governor happened to hear the conversation, and stepping into the office said: "Young man, let me see your money." Looking it over, he said to the man, "Sir, this is legal tender and good money. You take it." The latter wished to know what the old governor had to do with the matter, but Governor Yates only replied: "This young man wants to pay for his land. You take that money, for you can't beat him while I'm here." After receiving the deed, young Burton wished to give five dollars to the governor for helping him out, but the latter said, "No sir, you take that money and get yourself a pair of shoes. My bill is paid." From that day to this, the memory of Governor Yates has always been kept green in the heart of the members of the Burton family.
Mr. Burton after returning to his home, settled down on his farm, but subsequently sold it and purchased a tract of eight acres on Section 1, Loami Township. To this, he added from time to time, until at one time he had 200 acres under good cultivation. When the Civil War broke out, he entered Company I, Seventy-third Illinois Volunteer Infantry, becoming Regimental wagon master, serving three years and nine months. He was known throughout the regiment, as "Lucky," but this was evidently a misnomer, as his horse fell with him and he was a cripple during the remainder of his life, in addition to having his hearing considerably impaired by the heavy cannonading during his service.
In 1870, he sold his farm on Section 2 and purchased 320 acres on Section 4, Loami Township, in 1873, selling 120 acres, buying 260 acres on Section 16. In 1882, he traded this 380 acres of fine land to L. W. Massie for 640 acres in Cass County, Mo., taking the difference in cash. That year, the family moved to Cass Co., Mo., and Mr. Burton gave to each of his sons a tract of eighty acres. His daughter, Jincy Ann, is the wife of Frank McCarthy and has a fine home in Kansas City, Mo. In 1898, Mr. Burton sold and traded land in Missouri, for land and city property in Eureka Springs, Ark. And 200 acres of land near the city. There his wife passed to her final rest, December 16, 1899, aged seventy-eight years, he following her to the grave May 3, 1909, aged eight-seven years. Both were devout members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. To them there were born: Jincy A.; James W., a resident of Kansas City Mo., who married Lou McCleod; John David; Louis B., who went West and has not been hard from in some time; and Reuben E., a resident of Kansas City, Mo.
Like the other members of this family, John David Burton was given excellent educational advantages, his schooling starting at the old Dutcher school district, two miles from his home. While still attending school, at the age of six years, he engaged in herding sheep, and as soon as he was able and strong enough, he took his place and did his share of work on the farm. He next attended the Maple Grove school, later the High Water Mark school, the Huffaker school, and two terms at Loami, and part of a course at the Masonic Institute at Grapevine, Tex., whence he had gone on account of ill health. In the fall of 1872, he returned to his home in Illinois, again attending the High Water Mark school, but in 1875, he went to Kansas where he was for a time engaged in checking tobacco and cigars.
In the fall of the same year, he again came back and on February 7, 1878, he was married to Sarah Carson, of Maxwell Township, daughter of William P. Carson. During 1881 and 1882, Mr. Burton taught the Hong Kong school located on Section 14. During 1881, he had moved to his present home in Loami Township, but in the spring of 1883, he moved to Cass County, Mo., settling on the eighty acres his father had given him there. In 1888, he came back to his farm in Loami, where he remained until 1893, at which time he went to Macoupin County, but two years later, he again returned to Loami Township. On June 5, 1897, Mr. Burton met with an injury in a runaway accident, and on August 5, his leg was amputated ten inches below the knee. This misfortune, Mr. Burton has not allowed to interfere with his operations in any way, as he exchanges work with his neighbors, is looked upon as one of the best hands for any farm work, and is much sought for when threshing is to be done.
Mr. Burton resides in a Republican township, but has been elected to public positions on a Democratic ticket four times out of six. In the spring election of 1897, he was elected Collector by a majority of twelve votes, and collected the taxes that winter in spite of his accident. He was elected Assessor, in the spring election of 1910, defeating his opponent by about seventy votes, and he has also served as Judge of Election and as delegate to County conventions, in addition being School Director. Fraternally, he is connected with Camp No. 848, Modern Woodsmen of American, and Loami Lodge No. 901, I. O.O.F., which he joined as a charter member May 30, 1903. He has passed through the chairs of the latter lodge, and is now a Post Grand, in addition to having been representative to the Grand Lodge and Deputy Grand Master. With Mrs. Burton, he is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and both are much interested in church and charitable work.
Mr. and Mrs. Burton have had the following children: Norval E., born January 24, 1879, a teacher in the Loami High School, married Myrtle Gustine, one child, John D.; William D., born July 29, 1881, at home; Lee R., born September 24, 1884, married Elizabeth Simms and resides in Loami; Mabel A., born August 30, 1887, married Leslie Butler; Rollin, born August 24, 1889, married Lena Lynn; and Laurice born June 21, 1893, at home; Minerva, who died in infancy; and Nancy, born June 13, 1897, died September 16, 1906.