BURNS, JOHN E. - The profits from farming activities are such that those who have spent many years thus engaged, feel justified in retiring to spend the remainder of their lives in the enjoyment of the plenty their industry has accumulated. Sangamon County has a number of these representative men, who, now that they are no longer engaged in arduous toil, are at leisure to give more attention to local affairs and to deliberate carefully upon reforms and improvements. Among these men is numbered John E. Burns, of Illiopolis. He was born in Bath County, Ky., October 16, 1824, a son of Dennis and Catherine (Farmer) Burns, natives of Virginia. His parents moved to Kentucky at a very early day in its history, locating on a farm in Bath County, where they died, having brought up a family of ten children, six of whom were stalwart sons. Of them all, John Dennis Burns served the Government as a teamster during the Black Hawk War.
After receiving a country school education, John E. Burns worked on the farm, but later broke out, he enlisted in Bath County in the far famed Company M, Seventh Kentucky Cavalry, but in less than a year he was discharged on account of disability caused by sickness. During that period, however he was made Captain of his company by unanimous vote, and participated in several famous engagements. At the close of the war, Mr. Burns came to Illinois, locating first in Logan County, near Mt. Pulaski, where he farmed for a year; but not being satisfied, moved to Lake Fork, near Cornland, and continued farming for three years. Following this, he moved to a farm south of Lanesville, where he farmed for four years, making thereafter several changes until 1891, when he settled on his present place, which he owns. Although eighty-five years of age, Mr. Burns enjoys excellent health and is a well preserved man. A grateful government pays him a pension which his military services merit.
Mr. Burns was married in Bath County, Ky., to Martha J. Self, born in Virginia, but brought to Kentucky by her parents, Joseph and Sarah (Gauldin) Self, both natives of Virginia, and members of first families in that State. Mr. Self was a blacksmith by trade, and coming to Illinois with his son-in-law, Mr. Burns, he found work at his calling. Several years later he went to Saline County, Mo., where he and his wife died. Mrs. Burns died on Christmas Day, 1906, having borne her husband five children, three of whom survive. Lillian lives at home with her father; Chessella is the wife of Add S. Blair, of Mechanicsburg, a farmer; clay lives in Springfield, where he conducts a feed yard. There are six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in the family.
The political affiliations of Mr. Burns are with the Republican party. For many years he has been a valued member of Morgan Post, No. 208, G.A.R., in which he takes a deep interest, enjoying meeting his comrades and living over with them the stirring events of the great struggle. Mr. Burns is liberal in his religious views, while his wife was a consistent member of the Christian church. Loyal, steadfast of purpose, a man who has worked hard and saved wisely of his earnings, Mr. Burns sets an excellent example to the younger generation, and by his earnest life has proven what can be accomplished provided one is willing to exert himself and never shirk a duty which lies before him.
Mr. Burns has seen many changes in Sangamon County, since locating here. Some of these he is proud of, while he believes others do not afford evidence of improvement; but he retains his faith in its future greatness and has never lost his interest in the mighty Commonwealth with which he cast his fortunes after fighting to maintain the supremacy of the General Government.