Lorenzo Dow Burns (1859-1935)

Lorenzo Dow Burns was born in 1859 in Knox Township, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, the second son of Liberty Burns and his second wife, Elizabeth Bish. He was named for an eccentric preacher who traveled across the country in the early 1800s, meaning his parents were passingly religious. His mother died in 1862, after the birth of her fourth child. The four young Burns children -- Robert, Lorenzo, Sarah (Sallie), and Elmer -- were orphaned when their father died at the Battle of Wilderness in 1864.

This is a bird's-eye view of Brookville, ca. 1895.
The road to the Burns property takes off to the right (eastward) from the bridge indicated by the arrow.

Here is Brookville celebrating the Fourth of July in the late 1800s. Jefferson County's prosperity was built on logging, agriculture, and coal mining, and we know Liberty lent his strong back to the first two and Lorenzo to the first. It's not improbable they tried all three.

Panoramic view of Brookville, ca. 1925.

From 1864 to 1867, the four children were probably cared for by their Bish grandparents, but one of Liberty's comrades-in-arms, John Ostrander was named guardian in 1867. He found each a foster home. Lorenzo's was with Margaret and Daniel Haugh (sounds like Hawk). Grandma Haugh (shown with Lorenzo in front of her home in Pennsylvania) came to Ohio to live with Lorenzo and his family after she was widowed. The bond was a strong one.

In 1874, the Burns orphans signed over their shares of the Knox Township property to their half-brother, Daniel.

In the fall of 1871, the Burns children were enrolled in the Dayton (Pennsylvania) Soldiers' Orphans' School, located in a neighboring county. Lorenzo stayed until he graduated in 1875, at the age of 16. These orphan schools were considered exemplary places to get an education, and far superior to orphanages.

The orphan school burned down and was replaced by Dayton Normal Institute, shown in this 2015 photo.

This shows the lumbering community of Port Barnett, in Pine Creek Township just a few miles northeast of where the Burns family lived. Both Liberty and his son Lorenzo were employed in the lumber industry, which was a mainstay of the Jefferson County economy. We know from his journal entries and contemporaneous census records that Lorenzo worked in the lumber trade and many of his friends lived around Port Barnett. This view would have been very familiar to him and to Liberty.

As an employee of Brady's Shingle Mill, Lorenzo would likely have been involved with all aspects of the timber harvest, including the rafting of logs down the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh, as shown in this old photo. We know that in 1878 he went to Pittsburgh to participate in a timber auction, and went west from there. The lyrics are from a handwritten songbook he kept.

This is a journal that Lorenzo kept from 1877-1878. It was here I learned of his journey to Iowa and points west in the spring of 1878, perhaps to escape the consequences of a dalliance (recorded in the journal) with a neighbor girl named Mary Dinger, which arrived in the late summer of 1878 in the form of an infant named Lorenzo Burns (later renamed Loe Paul Fike).

This is the Mary he chose, daughter of David and Eliza Mason, who had been neighbors of old, but who moved to Freedom, Ohio before 1880, before Mary was 17. Mary's brother Charley was one of Lorenzo's childhood chums. My surmise is that Lorenzo dropped in on the Masons on one of his rail journeys to or from Pennsylvania, which would have taken him right past Freedom.

Lorenzo was 24 and Mary Rebecca Mason 22 when they married on July 10, 1883.

We still have this book of Burns poems, given to Lorenzo by his brother-in-law Elmer Mason in 1897.

They were married for 52 years.