Harrison County Missouri
Biography for Joseph Burrows

Joseph H. Burrows was born in Manchester, England, May 15, 1840.   In 1842 his father and mother together with his uncle James Burrows, with an infant son, James Burrows, immigrated to the United States and landed at New Orleans.  His mother died enroute and was buried at sea in the Gulf of Mexico.  James Burrows, now of Kansas City, Mo. is the only survivor of the two families that came to this country at that time.  In 1851, Mr. Burrows' father died, after which he lived with his aunt, Katherine Pressly of Quincy, Ill. and his uncle, James Burrows, of Keokuk, Iowa.  During his youth he attended the public school in Keokuk, Iowa, worked in his uncle's brickyard and clerked in various kinds of mercantile establishments until he arrived at the age of manhood, when he came to Centerville, Iowa, where he lived a short time and then to St. Johns, Putnam County, Mo., at which place he was in the mercantile business.  While at St. Johns, he did considerable itinerary merchandising, loading up a wagon with harness, saddles, groceries and other staples, and would drive through the country selling same to farmers, taking in exchange thereof bacon, lard, bees-wax, honey, sorghum molasses and other articles, readily exchangeable for the cash when he would get them to a railroad center.  I have often heard him relate of a circumstance of his visiting Mr. (Little) Hubbard, south of Bethany, at which time he sold Mr. Hubbard a set of harness and a riding saddle and took in exchange for same a lot of hams and bacon at 1 1/2 cents per pound.  It was on one of these trips that he visited the little village of Cainsville, at that time consisting of a grist mill, blacksmith shop, and one or two small stores and a few dwellings.  he concluded that this locality would be a good place to locate and build a home.

On the 16th day of November, 1862, he and Miss Mary A. Shaw, daughter of Elonzo and Lucrecia Shaw, were united in marriage and on the next day they began their journey to Cainsville, Harrison County, Missouri, to make their new home.  We do not know whether Mr. Burrows had a vision for his own future of the locality in which he located, but it is true that during the fifty-six years that he lived in that community, Mr. Burrows became a man of wide and great personal influence and the little village which he has always loved, has grown to be a community of more progressive, intelligent, moral and of strong religious tendencies...all of which, to a great measure, has been the result of the leadership of the man about whom we are writing.

Mr. Burrows school days were not attended with the privilege of what we now call higher education, but we learned from a man who was his schoolmate that he learned his lessons well, that he was an apt scholar and no doubt laid the foundation for the accumulation of that great fund of knowledge which he acquired in and after life that so well fitted him for the duties he performed among his fellow men.  No one can step into his private library and there look through the volumes of history, of literature, both poetic and prose, without being impressed with the fact that Mr. Burrows had become familiar with that broad depth of learning which makes a man ready and useful at a moment's warning.  His scrap-books, which constitute more than one volume, shows his breadth of reading of the current literature of the day as they appeared in public press.  If these volumes are preserved, some day the historian will seek their pages for information to write the history of Mercer and Harrison Counties.

He made a profession of religion and joined the Baptist church in the year 1867, and immediately began preaching and until about a year ago he was one of the most active as well as one of the most prominent Baptist ministers in North Missouri, having rounded out a complete half century in the work of preaching the Gospel.  During the last year his health permitted him to preach only occasionally.  he was pastor of the Cainsville Baptist church thirty years and he also preached many years at the following named churches:  Princeton, Eagleville, Blythedale, Pleasant Valley, Mount Pleasant No. 2, Pilot Grove, Jameson, Jamesport, Freedom Concord, River View, Zion and Mount Moriah.  He lead in the building of several church houses, contributed to many church building funds, organized meetings in Mercer, Harrison and Daviess counties. 

He served the West Fork Baptist Association as clerk for twenty-five years, and was made moderator for twelve.  He was a young preacher at the time such men as the Rev. William McCammon, Rev. John Hardin, the Rev. William Baldwin, the Rev. John Woodward and the Rev. Paul McCollum were the leading and influential Baptist ministers of this section of the country.  The Rev. McCammon invited Mr. Burrows to visit the old Coon Creek Church near Edinburgh, Grundy county, Missouri, on a special occasion to preach for him.  this was forty-five years ago.  The meeting was held out under the great oak trees near the church, the crowd was an immense gathering from all the community and no doubt Mr. Burrows, then a young preacher, was inspired by the great sympathy that came from the great congregation.  After the service Old Father McCammon came with his out-stretched palsied hand, placed it upon Mr. Burrows' shoulder and said, "you have fed us great food today".  I have heard Mr. Burrows say that he had always remembered the remarks as one of the greatest compliments ever paid him and especially so when coming from the lips of the great man of God, " Old Father McCammon."  It is possibly true that the early ministry of Mr. Burrows was largely influenced by the Rev. John Woodward of Cainsville, Missouri who was for a century the leading pioneer preacher of Harrison county.  The Rev. John Woodward was a man of commanding influence, strong personally, full of magnetism and a born ruler.  Mr. Burrows had often said that the counties of Harrison, Mercer and Daviess owned him much.  I only speak of this because I know that if Mr. Burrows were writing his own history he would give Uncle John Woodward due credit for his first inspiration to preach the Gospel.

Mr. Burrows bought the farm, upon which he lived at his death, in 1865.  It is located just across the line in Mercer county, from the town of Cainsville, but up till 1904, Mr. Burrows was connected in some way in the mercantile business and president of the Cainsville Bank at the time of his death.  So while his home and farm life was in Mercer county, much of his business and public life was in Harrison county, and while Mercer county claims him as a citizen, harrison county claims his business activities.   Once when he was a candidate for the legislature in Mercer county his opponent used as an argument against his election that, "Mr. Burrows was not really a citizen in Mercer county, he only slept in the county."   But Mr. Burrows was elected and served Mercer county three times in the Missouri General Assembly, being elected in the years 1872, 1874 and 1878.  His fund of knowledge of public affairs, his strong convictions of what he believed to be right or wrong and his ability as a public speaker very naturally lead him into the field of politics.

In 1880 he was nominated by the Greenback party as their candidate in the Old Tenth Congressional District.  At that time the Hon. Chauncey L. Filley of St. Louis, Mo. was the leader of the Republican party in Missouri and largely through his influence the Republicans endorsed Mr. Burrows and left the field open between he and the Democratic candidate, Hon. Charles Manser of Chillicothe, Mo.  Mr. Burrows won the election and served one term in the lower house of Congress during the administration of President Arthur.  While Congressman he held a competitive examination at Trenton, Mo. the purpose  of which was to select a young man for the appointment of cadet, to attend the National Military school at West Point.  It was an ordinary event and nothing about it to protend that it was history making day.  But on that occasion there appeared a young man by the name of John J. Pershing, who won the appointment.  Mr. Burrows followed the life and work of this young man and , as Pershing rose step by step, Mr. Burrows' interest increased and there was nothing in his latter life that gave him so much pleasure among all his public acts than the fact that he was responsible for the creation of General John J. Pershing, now commander-in-chief of the American forces in France.  It was a great pleasure to Mr. Burrows to speak of General pershing as a great clean man, whose efforts have been to make the army under his command a body of clean, sober men.  After General Pershing had gone to France, he was invited to participate at the grave of Lafayette and when called upon to make a speech in honor of the man who helped to make the United States free, he stepped forward and simply said, "LAFAYETTE, WE ARE HERE."  That short speech rang back through the century of 1776.  Why should Mr. Burrows not be proud?  Why should not all his friends be proud because of the fact that this great man, now in France making history for the world, was the product of our fellow citizen, whom we have all loved and honored?

Mr. Burrows loved his home town and community.   I mean to say that he loved the people.  In this community he reared his family, built up his home, mingled his fortune with those of his neighbors, paricipaed in all the commercial undertakings of the community and was, in fact, the leader in every public enterprise that was attempted for the upbuilding of the town of Cainsville.  In the bringing of the railroad, the establishment of factories, and the development of the coal mine.  Mr. Burrows' voice was always heard and his influence felt and his money freely expended.

Mr. Burrows was always a most ardent advocate for the cause of temperance.  No sooner had he located at Cainsville, than he raised his voice against the liquor traffic.  he immediately began organizing Good Templar lodges and in the organization of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, he and his wife were the pioneers and were always steadfast.  he delivered many temperance lectures and appeared on the public rostrum in defense of prohibition.  He watched the progress of the states in their adoption of the constitutional amendment recently adopted by Congress and as state after state adopted the amendment, his joy would increase.  What a pity it was that he could not have lived to have seen the United States swept clean of the liquor traffic.

On November 16, 1912, he and his devoted wife celebrated their golden wedding.  This was one of the pleasure events of his life.  Their beautiful home on Oak Lawn Farm had its doors wide open for all who might come to cheer them and congratulate them on their half century of wedded and useful life.  For this occasion Mr. Burrows wrote a short poem which I am going to repeat here, becasue it shows how he loved Cainsville, how he loved his children, how he loved God, and how he loved his friends:

The scenes of my childhood are precious to me,
For the prairies of Iowa roll on like the sea,
But Missouri's greatness, are great as can be,
And the counties of Mercer and Harrison suit me.

Way back in the sixties, we first came to see,
And found Grand River flowing right toward the sea.
The hills and the valleys they looked good to me,
And the God of all nature made me love thee.

In November, sixty-two, here we brought our bride,
To live with you, our friends, while time should abide,
Through weal and through woe we have trod life's ebbing tide_
Fifty years have made you precious and drawn you to our side.

Tis hear God gave us children-our pride and our joy-
Four daughters cheer us daily and one loving boy,
While eighteen grandchildren, meet us with a smile,
And two great grandchildren tell us life is worthwhile.

Tis here we found the Savior, the best of life's all,
He has kept us and sustained us, for He knew that we might fall,
And we know we love him dearly, for indeed He is our way,
So we will battle on and serve him with the remnant of our day.

Now friends, we bid you welcome, with a glad and joyous heart,
Tis a day we must remember for such joys, they should not part-
But in that eternal morning, comes the joys that never die-
Tis there we hope to meet you, in that sweet bye and bye.

The last and hardest fought battle of Mr. Burrows' life was to surrender his place among his fellow men.  It might have been in hearts of some to criticize Mr. Burrows and accuse him of being jealous of his own works, but I can assure the reader from my own personal knowledge that it was Mr. Burrows' desire to work himself, that made the struggle so hard and long to give his place in life to others.  But Mr. Burrows is now dead, his life is a matter of history, his foot prints are many and he has made the road plain and clear wherein we who follow may walk with unerring step.

On Sunday morning, April 28, 1918, as the clock struck one, his spirit passed from his mortal body into that eternal world, about which he had preached with stirring eloquence for so many, many years.  Early tuesday morning his body was taken to the church, there to lie in state until the hour of the funeral, during which time hundreds of people in Cainsville and community took the last view of the body.  The funeral sermon was preached by Rev. M.P. Hunt of Louisville, Ky., assisted by Rev. Lee Wood, pastor, and Rev. Godsall of the Bethany Baptist Church.  After the sermon the Knight Templars from Bethany took charge of the body and with their beautiful ceremony laid the precious body away in beautiful Oak Lawn cemetery.

The beautiful home on Oak Lawn farm will never hear his voice again and as his children and grandchildren gather back to this most hospitable home, the voice and gently hand of father and grandfather will not be there to soothe and comfort, nor to cheer or bless.  But his devoted wife, the mother and grandmother, is left to scatter the flowers that so bountifully grew round and about his home of a half century.

His wife, Mary A. Burrows, and his children, Mrs. Gary(transcribers note: this should be Gara) M. Davisson, Mrs. Maggie Rogers, Mrs. Minnie Oden and Mr. W.J. burrows and Mrs. Bertha Lewis and his grandchildren and great grandchildren are left to perpetuate the good name and great work that this great citizen, This devoted husband, this loving father left to posterity.

S.P. Davisson.

submitted by: Lucy Church (direct descendent of J.H. Burrows)
source: Bethany (Mo.) Clipper, May 9, 1918
article written by Mr. Burrows son-in law, S.P. Davisson
transcribed by: Melody Beery



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