Biography - Stephen Burris

STEPHEN B. BURRIS, a veteran of the late war, did his duty manfully while fighting for his country, and has done no less good service in promoting the agricultural interests of Johnson County as one of its practical, enterprising and successful farmers, his farm on section 11, Vienna Township, being one of the best equipped and best managed in this region.
Mr. Burris was born in Fleming County, Ky., August 25, 1830, his father, Hiram D. Burris, being a native of the same county. The latter was left an orphan at an early age, and was reared by strangers. He learned the trade of a shoemaker in his youth, and followed it in Kentucky until the fall of 1851, when he came to Illinois, accompanied by his wife and nine children, traveling hither by way of the Ohio River as far as Metropolis, and thence by team to his destination in Grantsburg Township. After living a short time on land that he bought there, he took up his residence at Vienna, where he followed his occupation of making shoes, and there his death occurred at the age of fifty-four. His wife also died at Vienna. Her name before marriage was Elizabeth Biddle, and she was also born in Fleming County, Ky., a daughter of Stephen Biddle. These worthy people reared a family of ten children.
Our subject passed his early life in his native county, and obtained his education in subscription schools, there being no free schools at the time, each family having to pay in proportion to the number of scholars that attended. As his father was poor, his chances of going to school were limited, and while he was yet a boy he had to help support the family. He came to Illinois with his parents, and continued to reside with them until he was twenty-three years old, when he commenced to learn the trade of a carpenter, at which he worked until he entered the army. He also had an interest, with his brother, in a cabinet shop, which he purchased in 1861, and which he disposed of at the time mentioned.
In August of the year 1862, Mr. Burris settled up his affairs, and laid aside his work to go to the front with the brave boys in blue to help save the Union from destruction. He became a member of Company I, One Hundred and Twentieth Illinois Infantry, and did his share of fighting in the various engagements with the rebels in which his regiment bore an active part. He was present at the siege of Vicksburg, and assisted in its capture. After that notable event, his regiment was employed in guarding railways and in fighting bushwhackers. In October, 1864, our subject fell into the hands of the Confederates, and had an unpleasant experience of life in rebel prisons at Meriden (Miss.) and Cahaba. From the latter place he was transferred to Vicksburg, and with many others was paroled. These soldiers took passage on three steamers for St. Louis, and on the voyage the engine of one of the boats exploded, and all on board were lost. Our subject arrived at home safely at last, and did not rejoin his regiment, as his health was much impaired by what he had undergone.
As soon as he was able after his discharge from the service, Mr. Burris resumed business in the cabinet shop in which he had formerly been interested, having a share of the profits as before. Two years afterward he sold his interest in the shop, and in 1869 settled on the farm where he now resides, and has since devoted himself to its improvement. It comprises one hundred and twenty acres, of which ninety are under a high state of tillage, and the substantial buildings that stand on the place rank with the best in the township.
Mr. Burris was first married November 13, 1853, to Nancy M., daughter of James and Mary Grisson, and a native of this county. She passed away in January, 1862. Two children by that marriage are living: Pleasant G. and Thomas R. Mr. Burris was married a second time, November 12, 1865, Mildred Stockdale becoming his wife. She is a native of Fleming County, Ky., and a daughter of James and Mary Stockdale. There are six children living by this union: Arthur, Edith, Mollie, Fannie, Albert and Ethel. Edith is a teacher in the public schools.
Mr. and Mrs. Burris are conscientious, upright Christian people, and the United Baptist Church finds in them two of its most helpful members. Mr. Burris is connected with the Grand Army of the Republic as a member of Vienna Post No. 221, and in politics he votes with the Republican party.

Extracted 23 Apr 2016 from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 225-226.

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