BURRIS CONDUCTED HIS OWN FUNERAL IN 1850

(03/15/2017)

By Bob Weaver

Archibald Burris, one of Calhoun's early settlers conducted his own funeral, reposing and sitting before an open window, holding his own funeral while he was alive.

Burris delivered his own eulogy, recalling his historic life in the Indian Wars and as a scout. Grantsville's first settler appears to have been Burris, who settled about 1810 and gave his name to Burrows Run. He has left many descendants in Calhoun county.

The Calhoun Burrows (Burris) family is descended from a well-known Indian scout that traversed the Ohio River Valley area, one John Burris.

Perhaps the most remembered story about Burris was conducting his own funeral in 1850 while he was still alive.

The old scout was aware that his last sickness had befallen him. The story says he asked himself about enjoying the company of his friends before he departed.

Burris' life went back to Revolutionary War days, well acquainted with the young men who inherited the Ohio Valley. Behind him was years of the Indian Wars, with memories of slaughter and massacre.

An early account says, "He recalled flourishing families that cleared the trees and built homes and barns."

Burris decided to shake their hand, one more time.

The account says on a bright and shiny morning in 1850, "John Burris, Indian scout, pioneer and patriarch of the Ohio Valley, sat in his own coffin, placed before a window holding his own funeral."

His funeral elegy was most elegant.

"And they came by the hundreds, beloved old friends and relatives. They spoke of his long life, his good works, and squeezed his giant hands and wished him well on his long journey ahead."

He was 85 when he passed.

Burris was born in 1765 near Brownsville PA, a son of James and Nancy Wilson Burris of Ireland.

Reports say that men of the day were short in stature, but Burris stood six feet and six inches tall.

In the unpublished Hathaway Papers (Semour Judson Hathaway), written for an 1888 bicentennial in Marietta, a description said, "He was a remarkable man physically, and owing to his wit and sociability, was very popular in the settlement... He was peculiarly fitted by nature to the frontier life he led."


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