A History of the Burns Family
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PART ONE: Guy's Path to the Dance \


Windham Village, Portage County, Ohio
July 10, 1883

PART ONE Overview
1 - Wildcat Brigade
2 - Battle of Wilderness
3 - Field Hospital
4 - Orphan School
5 - Ladies' Man
6 - Mary Dinger
7 -The Masons
8 - Mary Rebecca
9 - Guy the Wanderer
10 - Farmer Boy
11 - Center of the World
12 - Birthday
13 - Fish Story
14 - Miss Fenn
15 - To the Dance

More Information


Author’s Note

We don't know for sure how Lo and Mary eventually got in close enough proximity to woo and wed. We do know that the Masons moved to Ohio between 1878 (when the Pine Creek Township map in the Jefferson County atlas was drawn showing their house in the northeast corner) and 1880 (when they appear on the census in Windham, Portage County, Ohio). We know Lo went to Omaha in 1878. We know he worked at the White River Logging Camp in Mason, Wisconsin after he married Mary Rebecca, and there's a hint in Guy's memoirs he might have done so earlier, perhaps stopping in Windham on the way. It's also possible that after the trouble with Mary Dinger, he disguised himself as the travelling salesman Lorenzo Dinges (or Dinger) for a time, and rode the rails to sell his wares.

From Mary Rebecca's autograph book

Any of these scenarios might have found him travelling through Chicago, and Windham, Ohio was on the Erie Railroad route connecting Pittsburgh and Chicago. It is not farfetched to think that he might have stopped over with people he knew, especially a girl he liked enough to include in his "girl lists" more than once.

Based on the Burns family pattern of whirlwind romances, it's reasonable to assume that Lorenzo and Mary did all their courting in the spring of 1883, shortly before their marriage on July 10th.

But it was by no means a shotgun wedding. Planning is evident. Photographs of the bride and groom leaning against a tasseled table were taken in nearby Garrettville by C.M. French, a photographer of some renown who exhibited his photographs at a national convention later the same summer. [1]      

Newton Falls Methodist Church (early 1900)

The minister was John Tribby, who had preached at the Methodist Church in nearby Newton Falls a few years earlier. Whether they were married at that church or another is unknown, but this was not some hurried civil ceremony.

Mary Rebecca's autograph book also dates from this time. These books were a craze of sorts during the Victorian period, and were given at rites of passage, such as graduation from high school, engagement, or marriage. Mary's was presented to her on April 25th, about two and a half months before her wedding day. Many friends, relatives, and neighbors added their good wishes and homespun advice, so this was a happily anticipated occasion. One of these well-wishers was Mrs. Electa Miller, for whom Mary worked before she got married, and whose husband George later hired Lorenzo as a farm laborer.

Mary Rebecca's Autograph Book

The names in the autograph book give us an important clue about where the Masons were living. As shown on the 1900 map of Freedom Township, the Millers (self-styled friends and neighbors) owned several tracts of land near a place called Freedom Station. A smaller circled property belongs to the Spahlingers, a family we will meet later in one of Guy's earliest adventures. The Christy property next to it is another place where Lorenzo worked. Thus, the Masons, and later the L.D. Burnses, must have lived within a fairly small radius of Freedom Station during the 1880s. [2]




[1] Found online:


[2] "Freedom was the last of the townships of Portage County to be organized, the reason being that all of the central part was a great swamp. Hunters in the surrounding towns had put out the word that Freedom was all swamp, not suitable for farming, and never would be settled. But to many arriving from the New England states, this little spot, originally known as Town 4, Range 7, the 215th township in the Western Reserve to be organized, was once referred to as “The Eden of the World.” .... The first settlement in the township was made by Charles H. Paine, approximately two miles north of Drakesburg. Amanda Paine was born to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Paine, the first white child born there. It was left to Mrs. Paine (as history states) to name the township, having the honor of being the first woman resident. Being deeply patriotic, a staunch abolitionist, and anti-slavery woman, she named the town “Liberty” but changed it to “Freedom” when she found there was another township in the state called Liberty."
    Details from an online history of Freedom.