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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


WILLIAM BURRUS, is a resident of section 2, township 16, range 12, is a native of Overton County, Tenn., and was born April 26, 1820. He was a son of Martin and Elizabeth (Davis) Burrus, both of whom were natives of Tennessee. His paternal ancestors were English while on his mother's side they were of Scotch descent.

William Burrus was the eldest child, and is probably the oldest living male member of the Burrus family. About the year 1832 in company with his parents, he moved to Morgan County, Ill., and at the time of their arrival here, Jacksonville was but a small hamlet. Then there was but little prospect of there being built a thriving city. His father died in 1852, and his mother followed him a few years later. They were the parents of twelve children, of whom the following survive: William, Susan, wife of Thomas Hodges, of Morgan County; Mary, wife of Robert Ray, of Kansas; Elizabeth, wife of Edward Beecham of Menard County, Ill.

William Burrus has lived in Morgan County, nearly all his days. His education was received in the early subscription schools that were in vogue at the time of his youth, but he has been obliged to rely upon his own efforts to gain an education. About the time that he reached manhood, Illinois was beginning to emerge from the difficulties that surrounded her in an early day. Her markets were beginning to improve and society was better. It is safe to say that Mr. Burrus has undergone as many of the privations that surround a pioneer's life as any man in Morgan County. He rode in the first passenger train between Meredosia and Jacksonville, and has witnessed a wonderful development of the railroad system in Illinois. When he commenced life there was not a mile of railroad constructed in this State, and transportation of all kinds was made by means of horses and oxen. There were a few miles of canal built, but not enough to do the country much good. Threshing machines were unknown then. The grain was separated from the straw by the old primitive methods of the flail and by means of treading it with horses and oxen. Fanning mills were unknown and when that useful machine was first introduced, some people were superstitious enough to say that its use should be discouraged, as the only moral and proper way to clean grain was to let the winds of heaven blow the chaff away by holding it up in the air and allowing it to fall to the ground. Steel plows were then unheard of, the old wooden mold-board being considered good enough to plow the earth with.

Mr. Burrus settled on his present farm in the spring of 1848, and has lived there continuously since. He first purchased 160 acres of land which was in a very wild condition. He erected a log cabin 16x18 and there resided for over twenty years, and in this house he reared the most of his children. The log cabin is still standing on the farm, and is preserved by the owner for the memories that cluster around it. His present residence which is built of brick, is a model farm house and a practical exhibition of its owner's transition from a poor pioneer to a wealthy farmer. He owns 720 acres of land, every acre of which he earned. His first start was made as a renter. In five years he made $500 and invested this in land, and from that small beginning he has attained his present proud distinction. He was married Feb. 17, 1842, to Nancy Masterson, daughter of Samuel and Jane Masterson, natives of Kentucky, and early settlers of Morgan County.

To Mr. and Mrs. Burrus have been born eleven children, seven of whom are living: Thomas J., Benjamin F., William M., Alexander, Eliza A., Katie C., and Martha J.; the four deceased are Elizabeth C., John H., James M. and Felix O. Mrs. Burrus was born May 2, 1826. Both husband and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Mr. Burrus has held the office of Steward for several years. He has always been very liberal towards churches and schools.

Mr. Burrus is one of the original founders of the Methodist Episcopal Church on section 4, township 15, range 12, known as the McKindry Church, and is the oldest man now belonging to that organization. Politically, he is a Prohibitionist, but was formerly a Democrat, and aims to vote for the best man for office. William Burrus is one of the representative pioneers of his county and is esteemed by all who know him.

1889 Index
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