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

CHAPTER NINE: Guy the Wanderer

At the old Christy place near Windham, Ohio

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

Five-year-old Guy Burns has gone off to Spahlingers again, Eliza May says, and their mother is mad enough to spit.  The lure of six-year-old Mabel, along with her older sisters’ fussing, has once again overpowered Mary Rebecca's stern warnings. He has not stayed close to home and played with his younger sister.  As Mary Rebecca well knows, he considers his little sister a pest, and her own tricks don’t work any more.  And Lorenzo can’t help, because he’s too busy cutting grain in the neighbor’s field. The siren song of the Spahlingers cannot be resisted, and now she must stop her canning and walk the mile to fetch her wayward son. Impatiently, she sets the sealing wax on the counter and hurries out the kitchen door.

Guy and MayGuy is a force of nature, a quality manifested even before he was born.  She and Lo lived in their first house back then, the dilapidated one in Freedom Station.  Delivering that 10½-pound baby boy at home had nearly killed her.

They soon moved to a better house, the double dwelling in the town of Windham. Her parents had been living with them then, and she had to work like a demon to do all the washing and cooking and baking and cleaning and sewing and mending for the six of them. When Guy and the Fleming child almost set that house on fire, she knew she'd met her equal in sheer cussedness, and more. And with both boys named Guy, the confusion!  She dragged them out from under the porch and tanned Guy Burns’s hide. Not that it gave her any satisfaction.

Then there was the business of the chickens.  Guy had been so curious about the strange squawks and peeps coming from the fence behind the corner grocery store, he simply had to find the source.  The next thing anyone knew, he’d climbed the fence, the chickens were running amok, and she was once again hauling him back home by the ear.

She'd thought things would improve once they moved out to country, but Guy has continued his wandering ways. After threats and punishments failed, she resorted to setting a pail of water in the doorway.  For some reason, Guy found this frightening, at least for a while.  He would do most anything to avoid a body of water, even if it was very small, and even if it meant being stuck inside.  But this ploy doesn't work anymore. Guy eventually mastered his fears, for her son is a boy who must have his freedom.

These days Guy's adventures take him farther than ever. But as she strides up the drive up to the Spahlinger house, she smiles to see that justice is being meted out without benefit of her own iron jaw and fiery tongue. Guy has just chased Mabel around the big barrel where the rain water collects, when here comes Mrs. Spahlinger bearing down on him like a thunderstorm.  She snatches him up, suspends him over the rain barrel, and delivers her final warning:  “Guy Burns, if you ever run away over here again, I am going to throw you in this tank!”

Author's Note

Windham Village, Ohio in 1900 (click image for close-up)
The Burnses lived next to the Flemings at the double dwelling labeled "A. Mason"

The circled property on the map above (see closeup by clicking on the image) was the only double-dwelling in Windham as of 1900, and at that time it belonged to A. Mason, who was Charley Mason's wife. Lo and Mary had already moved west to Cuyahoga Falls by the time this map was drawn, but the details fit. There is a store a block away. The 1880 and 1900 census documents both show a Fleming family living near the Brazees (who are two doors to the right of the Mason property on the 1900 map). The 1900 census shows Mr. Fleming (no wife) living with two sons, one named Guy who would have been Guy Burns's age. So this is probably where they lived when Guy was 3 or 4.

I have not been able to locate their first house in Freedom. Guy saw a photograph of it much later when it was in very poor condition.


[1] Details of this story taken from Guy's memoirs.