ROWLAND C. BURNS, cattleman, county commissioner and one of the foremost citizens of Lubbock county, is a sure-enough old-timer in this plains country, for he has been all over it, has worked for others and for himself in the cattle industry in West Texas, and in countless ways has been closely identified with this section of the state for the past thirty years, having been of the advance guard of civilization which pushed out and mingled with the departing hosts of the red men and the wild buffaloes.
Mr. Burns was born in Nodaway county, Missouri, in 1857, a son of Rev. Caleb S. and Jerusha (Byers) Burns. His father, a native of Andrew county, Missouri, was a minister of the Christian church, but also throughout his active career owned and operated a farm, on which he brought up his children. After living in Nodaway county for some time, he moved in 1861 to Collin county, Texas, and in 1868 to Grayson county, where he died in 1888. His wife was a native of Missouri and died in Grayson county in 1883.
Reared to farming pursuits in Collin and Grayson counties, which were the scenes of his childhood days, Mr. Burns, at the age of fifteen, left home, and had ever since been in the cattle business in West Texas. For a long time he followed the life of a cowboy on the plains. He came out of the Staked Plains of Texas in 1881, at a time when none of the plains counties were organized—Crosby, the first one, being organized in 1886. In 1883 he took charge as manager of the Llano Cattle Company’s ranch in Crosby county, and in 1884 he was made manager of the Nave-McCord Cattle Company’s ranch in Garza county, a position which he held to the satisfaction of all concerned for about four years. In the fall of 1888 he became manager of the Iowa ranch in Lubbock county, owned by the Western Land and Live Stock Company, and was with that outfit for seven years. Since then he has been in the cattle business for himself, in Lubbock county. His ranch, located east of Lubbock, consists of 3,544 acres, between five and six sections, his headquarters being seven miles east of Lubbock. He has a nicely improved place, and raises strictly high-class registered Hereford cattle.
Mr. Burns is an exponent of scientific farming as applied to West Texas, which for so many years was considered totally unfit for such operations. His success, however, is proof positive that many farm crops can be raised in this country without irrigation. He has farmed for twelve years on his place and has never yet had a failure.
For more than eight years Mr. Burns has rendered valuable services to his county by serving as county commissioner. He takes an enterprising citizen’s interest in helping to build up and develop the town and county of Lubbock, and assists in all plans for promoting their growth, and is one of the county’s substantial citizens.
He was married in Coryell county to Miss Emma Boles, a native of Illinois and a sister of George Boles, who is now one of the representative stockmen of Lubbock county. Mr. and Mrs. Burns have three children. The oldest, Garza Burns, was the first child born in Garza county, the other children are Maud and George.
Mr. Burns enjoys the distinction of having killed the last wild buffalo on the plains, so far as can be ascertained. This occurred in Gaines county in 1885. While out after cattle, with some boys from the ranch, he ran across a herd of nine buffaloes. They succeeded in cutting out one from the bunch, and Mr. Burns shot it, the others escaping. So far as was ever heard, no other buffaloes were subsequently killed on the Texas plains.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 328-329.