Forty-four years ago this sterling old citizen of Lafayette came to this place, and during this long period he has been thoroughly with whatever has tended toward the development and prosperity of this section.  He has won distinction in his chosen profession in the meantime, and, though now well along in years, he has not given up his practice.  In fact, his numerous friends and regular patients would hardly permit him to retire from business, as they are greatly attached to him and have come to rely upon his helpful sympathy and aid in time of sickness.  Four decades ago, when he came to this locality, small improvements had been made in the primeval wilderness and little resemblance can be traced in the Tippecanoe County of today to that county of long ago.  Though there were many difficulties and hardships to be encountered by the frontiersmen of that period, they had their compensations, and never were friends truer and more helpful; and the simple, unostentatious life that they led was filled with quiet enjoyment, after all.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Doctor Burns was born the 24th of June 1822.  He is the son of Torrence and Barbara (Miller) Burns, who were natives of Kentucky and Pennsylvania, respectively.  They had five children, of whom only the doctor and John M., a farmer of Weston, Illinois, survive.  The father ran back and forth on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers with boats for several years, taking freight from points in the Buckeye state to New Orleans.  Later in life removed to Elkhart county, Indiana and, locating on land near Pine Creek, North of Goshen, he improved a farm and reared his family.  After a long and useful career he was summoned to the better land, having survived his devoted wife for a number of years.  Both were members of the Methodist church, and were always active in all religious and charitable work.  He ceased his labors in 1885, when he had attained the advanced age of ninety –three years.  His wife, whose death took place in the year 1870, was then in her seventy-six year.  She was the daughter of John Miller, a native of Pennsylvania and a soldier of the war of 1812.  He died in the Keystone state when about eight-two years old.  His wife afterward came to Goshen, Indiana and there died in 1844, when about four score and two years.  Harvey Burns the paternal grandfather of the doctor was native of Ireland, of Scotch parentage.  He decided to cast in his fortunes with those of the favored sons of America, and fought for the liberty and rights of his adopted land in the war of 1812.  Having taken up his abode in Kentucky among the pioneers of that state, he became a wealthy plantation-owner and slave-holder.  His children are five in number, four sons and a daughter.  Longevity is one of the characteristics of the Burns family, and grandfather Burnslived to the extreme age of one hundred and fifteen years, his death occurring in 1863.

When his parents removed to this state Dr. George W. Burns was but four years old, and thus, to all intents and purposes, he is the son of the Hoosier state.  When he was a small boy he commenced attending the old-fashioned subscription school, held in a log schoolhouse.  He also was a student in the La Port schools for one year, and in 1849 was graduated in the medical department of the University of Michigan.  He at once began his practice in Cassopolis, Cass county, Michigan, remaining there about five years.  He then came to Lafayette and established himself in the practice, which has continued up to the present time.  Always an earnest student, he has kept in touch with the modern discoveries and methods in the treatment of disease and has retained the confidence and high regard of his professional brethren, as well as his patients.  In national elections he has always used his right of franchise in favor of the principles and nominees of the Democratic party, and in local affairs he has exercised wise discrimination, voting for the man of measure which he deemed best calculated to promote the welfare of his home community.  Although he has passed the usual age of man in length of days, according to the Psalmist, he enjoys good health and is well in body and mind.

October 15, 1852, Doctor Burns married Miss Catherine Purkey, daughter of George W. and Catherine (Richey) Purkey.  Eight children came to bless their union, namely: Addie, deceased; Harvey, who married Emma Dealey, of Indianapolis, and has two children, Mabel and Joy: Lucinda E., who married Robert Layton, of Battleground, Indiana, and has six children; John and George W., who are employed in a restaurant; Frank and Willie, who died in infancy; and Annie, unmarried and living at home.  The faithful wife and mother was called to the silent land December 31, 1891.  She had been for many years a devout member of the United Brethren church and was loved and admired by all who enjoyed the pleasure of her acquaintance.

Transcribed by Robert Burns from:

History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren, and Pulaski Counties Indiana Vol. II, pp. 890-892
The Lewis Publishing Company 1899

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