FOUNDER OF LIPAN, TEXAS
Transcribed by James T. Sears on June 18, 2001
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Thursday, November 23, 1933
Vol. LIII, Number 296
Col. Thomas Allen Burns, who died yesterday at Burkett at the age of 101, shown cutting a cake on his one hundredth birthday lighted with 100 tapers. The cake was presented at a picnic celebration tendered by his friends, all of whom were given a piece.
PIONEER, 101, OF BURKETT DIES
Special to The Star-Telegram
BURKETT, Nov. 22
Col. Thomas Allen Burns, one of the most picturesque pioneer characters in the State, who celebrated his one hundred and first birthday last July, died at his home here about 11 o’clock this morning. Funeral arrangements are pending.
On his one hundredth birthday, Colonel Burns was honored with a picnic by his friends and fellow townspeople, each of whom was given a piece of a huge cake upon which had been placed 100 candles. Last July Colonel Burns was given further honors, a feature of the day’s observance being another cake, this one decorated with 101 lighted tapers.
Sturdy, debonair, and of erect military bearing, Colonel Burns’ appearance up to a short time before his death belied the fact that 101 winters had passed over his head. The humorous twinkle in his clear blue eyes and his ready smile always impressed those who met him.
Colonel Burns was born in 1832 at Dungarven, Ireland. He came to the United States with his parents about 1840. He attended school at Port Byron, N.Y., where he resided until he came to Texas in 1856. In 1860 he was clerk of election “for or against secession” in Bexar County. The next year found Colonel Burns down in Mexico as a teacher of English in a private school; at the same time, he was a student of the Spanish language. Between 1868 and 1870, he held two offices simultaneously, assessor and collector of Caldwell County and registrar under reconstruction laws, his duties being to administer the oath of allegiance to all male persons 21 and over. In 1869, he received appointment as United States commissioner in bankruptcy; took the census of Caldwell County in 1870; assisted in surveying the town of Lipan in 1873, and became its first postmaster in 1875.
Two years later Colonel Burns took over a larger post office at Granbury, which office he held for six years—until 1883, when he moved to his late residence in Burkett.
Colonel Burns had previously purchased several thousand acres of Coleman County land.
His first wife (Mary Elisabeth Turner) died some years ago. He had two sons, Cy and Will Burns, who live here, and a daughter, Mrs. S.Z. Williams of Sweetwater. In 1922, in his ninetieth year, Colonel Burns decided, as he expressed it, to “quit running around and settle down.” Accordingly, he married Miss Elsie M. Cochran, post mistress of Burkett.
Colonel Burns was always an early riser, being “on the job” daily before he retired from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the post office where he assisted with the routine work. He had always been a total abstainer from intoxicants, was a church member, read without glasses, and up to about a year ago continued his study of Spanish. Colonel Burns was primarily interested in things of a scientific nature.