HENRY E. BURNS is the present postmaster at Chester, and he has been identified with public service for nearly a decade. His life, like that of his father, has been passed in Randolph county and up to his twenty-fifth year he was engaged in agricultural pursuits, as his forefathers had been. He was born near Modoc, in Randolph county, Illinois, the date of his nativity being the 16th of August, 1868, and he is a son of Thomas H. Burns, who was born on the boundary line of Monroe and Randolph counties, December 8, 1841.
James Burns, paternal grandfather of the subject of this review, was one of the early settlers of Monroe county, this state, having removed to that section from Missouri in 1840. He was a native of the state of Missouri and had lived for a number of years in the Mississippi valley. He traced his ancestry to stanch Scotch extraction and as a young man he married Lucinda Brewer. The children of this union were: Thomas H., who is now at Modoc; James P., who lost his life in battle at Fort Donelson as a Federal soldier; B. K., a resident of St. Louis, Missouri; and Teresa, who died as the wife of William Harrell. The conditions of the times made it impossible for Thomas H. Burns to acquire anything but a limited education and when the Civil war came on he joined Company B, of Colonel W. R. Morrison's Forty-ninth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served with General Grant's forces from the battle of Fort Henry to the siege and capture of Vicksburg. He was a private in the company in which his brother was a lieutenant and when the trouble at Vicksburg was settled he accompanied his regiment into Arkansas to aid Banks in the latter's Red River and other expeditions against the Confederates. He had spent four years in defense of the flag when the surrender at Appomattox ended hostilities. Resuming the dress of civilian, Thomas H. Burns engaged in farming at Modoc and he has continued to be identified with that line of enterprise during practically his entire life time. He is a Republican in his political convictions but does not participate actively in public affairs. He was married, in 1866, to Miss Mary Ann Hull, who was a daughter of Samuel Hull, a representative of the Hull family of Raleigh, North Carolina. Mrs. Burns was summoned to the life eternal in 1903, and at the time of her demise was survived by two children,_Henry E., of this notice; and Sarah, wife of David Van Pelt, of St. Louis.
Henry E. Burns gained his rudimentary educational training in the common schools of his native place and subsequently he was a student for one year in the Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso. As a young man he engaged in farming operations near Modoc and continued as a tiller of the soil until 1894, which year marked his entry in the general merchandise business at Modoc. In 1901 he disposed of his mercantile stock and in the following year entered the political race for the office of county treasurer. He was elected as the successor of W .W. Collier, and he served as treasurer of Randolph county for a term of four years, at the expiration of which he decided to run for the office of sheriff. He was
elected sheriff in 1906 and succeeded William Ebers in the office, holding the same for four years. In January, 1911, he received the appointment of postmaster of Chester and was sworn in immediately as the successor of E. J. Allison. As a public official Mr. Burns has proved himself both capable and reliable and in discharging the duties of the various offices of which he has been incumbent he has acquitted himself with all of honor and distinction. In fraternal orders he is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and of the Modern Woodmen of America.
Mr. Burns has been twice married. At Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, on the 11th of July, 1894, he wedded Miss Emma Mudd, who died in May, 1902, survived by one son, Robert Vincent. On December 31, 1906, Mr. Burns married Miss Mary France at Sparta, Illinois. Mrs. Burns was born in Randolph county and for five years prior to her marriage she was a popular and successful teacher in the common schools of this county. One daughter, Mary Elizabeth, has been born to this union.