PETER BURNS was nearly a hundred years old at the time of his death. Upon visiting him in 1879, the following notice was published in the Ashland Press: THE OLDEST MAN IN ASHLAND COUNTY.
Some days since we had the pleasure of visiting, perhaps, the oldest man in Ashland County, in the person of the venerable Peter Burns, of Milton Township, at the home of Mrs. John Brindle, near the Black fork. Mr. Burns was born in Frederick County, Maryland, in July 1782, just before the termination of the American war of independence.
His father resided about twenty-eight miles west of the city of Baltimore, and died near Gettysburgh in 1815, aged about eighty-seven, and his mother near the same place at an advanced age. His father was from Scotland, and his mother of German descent. Mr. Burns had reached the age of about thirty years when the war of 1812 was declared between the United States and Great Britain. He was enrolled in the Maryland militia, and served in the company commanded by Captain William Derbins, in the defense of Baltimore and North Point as well as Fort McHenry. About the middle of August, 1814, the British fleet passed up the Chesapeake with about six thousand troops, under the command of General Ross, destined for the capture of Washington City. It landed on the Patuxant, twenty-five miles from its mouth, five thousand men, and marched across to the Federal city by way of Bladensburgh, where Commodore Barney confronted the British army, but failed to repel their march, General Winder, at the head of three thousand raw militia having made but a feeble stand, fleeing to Washington city, pursued by the exultant British, who burned the capitol, the presidentís house, and other public buildings, and then fled to their shipping. General Ross was greatly elated over this achievement, although the act was denounced in the English House of Commons, and by all civilized Europe. It was regarded as the act of a marauder and a vandal. General Smith prepared to meet Ross at Baltimore. General Strickler rallied the militia, numbering about fifteen thousand and prepared to defend the town. Ross landed eight thousand soldiers at North Point, fourteen miles from the city, and part went up the Patapsco to bombard Fort McHenry. General Strickler repelled the advance of General Ross in a heavy skirmish, in which Ross was killed, and after his army continued to bombard the garrison for many hours the enemy withdrew, and the body of Ross was carried, as reported, to England in a hogshead of rum to be buried. After the withdrawal of the British, Mr. Burns and other soldiers from Frederick County, returned to their homes.
About 1825 Mr. Burns commenced to learn the trade of a stonecutter and bricklayer, at which he informs me he worked industriously until he was over ninety-one years old, a period of nearly sixty years. During that time he worked in Baltimore, Little York, in Virginia, and in many parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania.
About the year 1845 he came to Ashland County, with his wife, and was joined by his son-in-law, the late John Brindle, who settled on the farm where the surviving members of his family now reside, near the Black fork. Mr. Brindle continued to reside there until 1877, when he deceased, aged about sixty-two years. Mr. Burns and his lady, being well advanced in years, became a part of the family of Mrs. Brindle. Mrs. Burns died at the residence of her daughter on Christmas day, 1878, aged about eighty years. Mr. Burns is the father of four living children, Emanuel, Samuel, Jacob, and Susan, wife of the late John Brindle.Mr. Burns has been drawing a pension of ninety-six dollars, since 1872, for services performed in the war of 1812. His mind is quite clear, though his powerful frame is greatly broken by hard work. He is now content with ordinary exercise. In his prime he weighed about two hundred and ten pounds. His average weight is now about one hundred and eighty pounds, and his height, about six feet two inches.
He eats and sleeps well, though at this time he is harassed by a bad cough. His remarkable age must be attributed to a fine constitution. His mother and father died at advanced ages. In fact, longevity has been characteristic of his family, and he may survive to reach one hundred years. He has never been compelled to pay many doctor bills. Temperate eating and living have done more than medicine to give him long life and vigor. Though his sight is failing, his senses remain unimpaired. He has always been a man of peace, and strongly attached to justice and integrity, and opposed to the desolating march of war and internal strife. May his remaining years glide peacefully away, and happiness crown his eventful days.
Mr. Burns died March 16, 1880. He retained his usual health until near his decease. He had lived under the old colonial government, and met many of the fathers of the Revolution. He has now gone to his rest, where we trust he will find the peace of a patriot and a just man. Soon we will see the last of the patriots of 1812. All honor to them.The remains of Mr. Burns were buried in the cemetery of Ashland, on Thursday, March 18th, by the company of Captain Finger, with military honors. With the exception of the late Patrick Murray, who lacked a few months of one hundred years of age, Mr. Burns was probably the oldest man in the county, and near the last of the 1812 soldiers.
contributed and transcibed by Russ Shopbell email@example.com