Biography of Henry T. Burns of Adel Township, Iowa

A half century has come and gone since Henry T. Burns became a resident of Dallas county. He arrived here in June, 1855, and for many years was one of the active farmers of Adel township. He is also numbered among the veterans of the Civil war and his long residence, his active and honorable business life, and his able service as a soldier well entitle him to representation in this volume. He was born in Elkhart county, Indiana, March 4, 1842. His father, Samuel Burns, was a native of Pennsylvania, and became an early settler of the Hoosier state, where he wooed and married Miss Mary A. Diddy, also a native of Pennsylvania. For some years after their marriage they made their home in Elkhart county, and three children were born unto them there. The father’s death occurred in that county in February, 1855, and later in the same year the mother and children removed westward to Iowa, casting in their lot with the early settlers of Dallas county, who were reclaiming this region for the purposes of civilization.

Henry T. Burns was reared here, for he was a youth of but thirteen years at the time of his arrival. His educational privileges were limited in boyhood but by reading and observation in later years he has greatly augmented his knowledge, becoming a well informed man. He worked upon the home farm, aiding in the arduous task of developing and cultivating new land, but when the Civil war was in progress he put aside all business and personal considerations and offered his aid to the government in defense of the Union, enlisting at Adel, on the 16th of August, 1862. He joined Company B, of the Thirty-ninth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, went south and participated in the movements of the Western army. He was first under fire at Parker’s Cross Roads in Tennessee, and later at Resaca and Altoona Pass, together with others of lesser importance. He went with Sherman on the march to the sea and for a time acted as detached escort and orderly for General John M. Corse. He participated in the last battle of the war and later marched to Richmond and on to Washington, D. C. where he took part in the Grand Review, the most celebrated military pageant ever seen on the western hemisphere. He was then mustered out at Washington on the 5th of June, 1865, and having been honorably discharged he returned to his home, being paid off at Clinton, Iowa. He had never faltered in the performance of any duty and he deserves the gratitude which should ever be accorded the defenders of the Union. After the war Mr. Burns engaged in farming and also had charge of the mail route, carrying the mail from Adel to Jefferson. His attention, however, was largely occupied by his agricultural interests and he brought his fields under a high state of cultivation, while year by year he gathered golden harvests as the result of the care and labor he bestowed upon his land.

Mr and Mrs Henry T Burns
Mr and Mrs Henry T Burns

Mr. Burns was married in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1884, to Miss Amelia Johnson, a native of Illinois, and they commenced their domestic life on the old home farm. From time to time Mr. Burns bought more land and now owns about three hundred acres, constituting a valuable property. Of this two hundred and twenty-eight acres is in the old home place and it is a neat and well improved farm, pleasantly located within two miles of Dallas Center. He placed good buildings upon the farm and carried forward the work of improvement in keeping with modern ideas of progressive agriculture. His time and attention were devoted to general farming until 1894, when he rented his place and removed to Dallas Center. Here he has rebuilt and remodeled his home and now has a good residence, in which he and his family are comfortably situated. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Burns were born five children: Matie, born March 28, 1888; Etta, born April 22, 1890; Harry, born April 12, 1892; and Ruth, born April 8, 1895, all yet under the parental roof. They lost their first born, a daughter, Bertha, when three years of age.

Mr. Burns exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the republican party. He cast his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln in 1864, at Rome, Georgia, while serving in the army, and has ever given his allegiance to the party since that time. While on the farm he served as secretary of the school board for seventeen years and he has filled the offices of assessor, road supervisor and trustee, acting in the latter capacity at the present time. After his removal to Dallas Center he was elected alderman and is now mayor of the town, giving a public spirited and beneficial administration, in which he has labored earnestly and effectively for progress and improvement. He has frequently been a delegate to the county and state conventions of his party and delights in its triumphs and does all in his power to further its interests. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church at Dallas Center and he belongs to the Odd Fellows lodge and to the Grand Army of the Republic. He has served as commander and is now past commander and quartermaster of the post, and his wife is an active member of the Relief Corps. She is also connected with the Rebekah lodge, the woman’s auxiliary of Odd Fellowship, and wherever known Mr. and Mrs. Burns are held in high esteem. He has been a resident of the county for fifty-two years and has witnessed its development from pioneer conditions. He has seen the building of railroads and of two courthouses here, has watched the growth of towns and the transformation of wild land into good farms. His life of business activity has been crowned with a goodly measure of success and he is now enjoying well earned rest. At all times his life has been active, useful and honorable and it is his genuine personal worth that has gained for him the favorable position which he occupies in the regard of those who know him.


Wood, Robert F., Past and Present of Dallas County, Iowa, Chicago, IL: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1907.

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