Biography - M. L. Burnett

M. L. Burnett is a true son of Johnson County "native and to the manor born," and an honor to its citizenship. He is a teacher by profession, and one who has made his mark as an intelligent and progressive educator. Failing health obliged him to give up his favorite pursuit at least for a time, and turning to the active and invigorating occupation of a farmer he is successfully managing a well equipped farm of which he is the proprietor, known as the "old Johnson Farm," which is of historical interest as one of the first, if not the very first, settled in this section of the country.
Our subject was born October 12, 1855, on the farm in this county still owned and occupied by his father Asahel B Burnett, of whom a sketch appears elsewhere in this work. He was an only child, and received a careful home training. Brought up on a farm, he early formed habits of industry and acquired a knowledge of agriculture that has been of advantage to him since he again resumed its labors. In his school days he was a bright boy, always standing well in his classes, and he had the advantage of his father's instructions as the latter taught the school in which he was a pupil.  At the age of nineteen, having secured a good education, he commenced to teach, and was engaged in that vocation for seventeen years, always in his native county, with the exception of one term. The old saying, "A prophet is not without honor save in his own country," has no significance in his case, as full appreciation of his talents by his fellow-citizens is shown by his continuous responsible position at the head of various schools where he is best known.
Desiring to make the profession in which he had so successfully engaged a business, Mr. Burnett entered the Normal School at Carbondale for one term, and acquitted himself with honor while a student in that institution, maintaining a high standing in scholarship. Since his first term of school he always held a first-grade certificate. He applied himself so closely to his beloved profession, that his health began to fail, and it was evident that unless he made some change life for himself had not many more years to run. Therefore he bought the farm called the "Old Johnson Farm," comprising seventy-five acres of land, situated in Vienna Township, and he has since engaged in general farming, and is giving some attention to raising strawberries and other small fruits. He has here an attractive home on this old place, which was so early in the settlement of the county reclaimed from the wilderness. The old house, which has been remodeled and repaired, was built in 1818, and is a relic of pioneer days.
Mr. Burnett was married in 1882, to Miss Sarah C. Conley, a native of Pope County,who was, like himself, a bright young school teacher, and the acquaintance, formed while they were pursuing their calling, ripened into a congenial and happy marriage, which has been hallowed to them by the birth of four children: Asahel Breese; Chloe Bertie; Ophy, who died in infancy; and Harry C., deceased. Mrs. Burnett's parents were from the state of New York, and lived in Pope County after coming to Illinois until their death.
Our subject has in a measure regained his health under the stimulus of an active, out-door life, and he still cherished the idea of re-entering his old field of labor, for which he is so well adapted, as soon as he is able to carry forward its work with-out detriment to his physical well-being. He is a gentleman of culture, is still a careful student, and the educational interests of this county should have the benefit of his experience and prestige as a teacher.

Extracted from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, page 122.

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