BURNS, THOMAS J., one of the well known and highly respected citizens of Sangamon County, and an honored veteran of the Civil War, in which he received wounds the scars from which he will carry to his grave, now engaged in farming and gardening on a snug little tract of land in Section 6, Cooper Township, was born August 25, 1842, in Buffalo Hart Grove, Sangamon County, Ill., a son of Benjamin F. and Eliza (Ridgeway) Burns, both of whom were born in Kentucky in 1816. The parents of Mr. Burns came to Sangamon County some time before the "Deep Snow", and Mr. burns purchased a tract of land in Buffalo Hart Township, where he engaged in farming until his death in April, 1870, the mother having passed away in 1865 while her son, Thomas J., was in the army. Of their seven children but two are surviving, Thomas J. and a sister, Mrs. Parthenia Sensenabaugh of California.
During his boyhood days Mr. Burns worked on his father's farm, and on November 22, 1862, when twenty years of age, enlisted for service in the Union Army, becoming a member of Company K, Eleventh Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Col. Nevins, who was later killed in the battle of Vicksburg. Mr. Burns served three years, during that time taking part in the battles of Grand Bluff, Miss., Champion Hills, Black River, the Siege of Vicksburg for forty-eight days and nights, during which time three charges were made; also in skirmishes or on post duty at Natchez, Canton, Jackson, Yazoo City (for seven days), Port Hudson, back again to Vicksburg for forty days and nights with a skirmish nearly every day; also took part in operations at New Orleans, Spanish Fort, Fort Blakeley and Mobile, Ala., where he was stationed at the time of the close of the war. The Eleventh was mustered out at Baton Rouge, La., July 14, 1865. It had a record of which no member need be ashamed, and Mr. Burns always proved himself a brave, gallant and faithful soldier, and that he was a hard fighting man and always to the front is borne witness by his scars received in battle. He served as Corporal of his company and during its long, wearisome marches was one of the most cheerful of the boys in blue.
After his services to his country were ended, Mr. Burns returned to the old homestead in Buffalo Hart Grove, and for the next ten or twelve years alternated between there and a farm in Jewel County, Kan., two years at a time, and he still owns property in the latter State, in addition to his tract of land in Cooper township, where he has resided since 1903. He is a Republican in political belief, and both he and Mrs. Burns are members of the Methodist Church.
On January 17, 1866, mr. Burns was married to Martha A. Sensabaugh, who was born May 16, 1845, in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of Joseph A. Sensabaugh, a native of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Burns' mother was a native of New York, and married Mr. Sensabaugh in Ohio, whence they came to Illinois and engaged in farming until their removal to Jewel, Kan. There Mr. Sensabaugh was following agricultural pursuits at the time of his death, while his widow survived him until February, 1909. They were the parents of five daughters and four sons, all of whom are now living.
To Mr. and Mrs. Burns have been born nine children, the oldest and youngest of whom are dead, the others being: Laura, the wife of Charles Leydig of Formosa, Kan.; Ida, the wife of George W. Burke, living in Springfield; Effie B., the wife of C. M. Smith, of South Dakota; Minnie, the wife of Charles Ayers, also of South Dakota; Mattie, the wife of Paul Walker, of the same State; Mabel, who married Louis Richards, of Kansas City, Mo.; Thomas H., living in South Dakota; and Robert W., who lives at home. Mr. and Mrs. Burns have nine grandchildren.