F. M. BURNS is one of the prominent representatives of commercial and financial interests of western Texas, the base of his operations being Colorado. His success has resulted from his ready recognition and utilization of opportunity, his strong purpose and his unfaltering diligence, and his life record proves what may be accomplished through the exercise of these qualities. His father, Marion T. Burns, was a native of South Carolina, who was born, reared and spent his entire life in Fairfield county. His wife bore the maiden name of Sally Nettles and was also a native of that county.
Francis Marion Burns, born July 2, 1850, was one of a family of thirteen children and was reared upon the farm in Fairfield district. At the time when he would otherwise have been in school the Civil war was in progress and it was impossible to maintain schools in that locality. He remained with his father up to the time of the latter’s death in 1871, working upon the farm and also pursuing his education at intervals in one of the old log schoolhouses such as the country afforded at that time. After the death of his father he began farming on his own account, but seeing that there was little chance for a young man in that part of the country he gathered his belongings and started for Texas, reaching Athens, Henderson county, in January, 1874, with a capital of six dollars and seventy-five cents. For six months he was employed on a farm in that locality and was then appointed deputy sheriff of the county, in which capacity he served for eighteen months. He next turned his attention to clerking in a dry goods store, where he remained for nine months, after which he engaged in business on a small scale for himself in Athens. In the spring of 1878, however, he removed to Canton, Van Zandt county where he conducted a mercantile enterprise until 1882. In the spring of the latter year he arrived in Colorado, which was then a recently organized town. Here he turned his attention to the sheep business, which he carried on until 1884, and then sold out. In the fall of 1882 he has been instrumental in organizing the firm of Dunn, Coleman & Company, general merchants, which firm was succeeded in July, 1883, by the firm name of Burns, Walker & Company, general merchants, under which style the business was continued until January, 1892, when the store became the property of the firm of Burns & Bell, which has had a continuous existence to the present date. They have had a trade extending as far as Paloduro Canyon about twenty miles south of Amarillo and west to New Mexico, the carrying trade being done in wagons. The sales of the house are now represented by a large figure annually and the business has long since reached extensive and profitable proportions.
Mr. Burns is the vice-president of the Colorado National Bank of Colorado, Texas, which is capitalized for one hundred thousand dollars and has a surplus of similar amount. It is the strongest and largest bank between Fort Worth and El Paso. Prior to his connection with this institution Mr. Burns was vice-president of the Citizens’ National Bank from 1890 until 1892, when it went into liquidation.
On the 15th of December, 1877, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Burns and Miss Flora Bell, a daughter of Mrs. A. S. Bell, of Colorado, Texas. Mrs. Burns was born in Alabama but was married in Athens, this state. Their family numbers a son and two daughters: Brookie, the wife of Dr. J. B. Gray, of El Paso, Texas; Douglas, who is with his father in the store; and Linnie, the wife of D. L. Harell, a druggist of Pecos, Texas. Mr. Burns belongs to the Baptist church, with which he has been identified for twenty years, and since 1880 he has been affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, taking the degrees of the lodge and chapter. He has also been an Odd Fellow since 1875. Mr. Burns is an interesting talker and his fund of information concerning general subjects is extended. He has been a close observer, thinking along practical lines, and is a man of action rather than of theory. He also aimed to secure tangible results, the value of which he could be tested in the competitive market. Systematic in the transaction of business, absolutely truthful and reliable in everything, and well informed as to the progress of events, with a watchful eye upon the business world, he allows nothing to escape his attention that may add to his efficiency in the work to which he has devoted his life.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 544-545.