Was born in Philadelphia, January 20, 1810, and emigrated with his parents to Milton Township, Richland (now Ashland) county, Ohio, in 1820, and settled on what is now known as the Kelly farm. In the fall of the same year Andrew Burns, sr., father of Hugh, built a cabin on what is now known as the John Huzlet farm, then owned by his brother, Barnabas Burns, and resided in it until 1821, when he moved to a cabin near the present site of Yeaman's mill, in Mifflin township, where the family remained until 1823, and then located on the Richard Woodhouse farm in Milton. In 1829 Mr. Burns, father of Hugh purchased what is now known as the Burns' farm, near the schoolhouse of that name in the west part of Milton Township, where he resided until his death in 1857, at the age of seventy-seven years. He was born in Donegal, Ireland, and was a devout Catholic. He came to Philadelphia in 1801, and about 1812 located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In 1820 he removed to Ohio. He had three sons, Hugh, Andrew, and Barnabas, and two daughters, Margaret, and Sarah. Mrs. Burns died in 1851, aged seventy- five years. Hugh attended the schools of the neighborhood, and obtained a fair knowledge of the English branches, and at an early day commenced his career as a teacher. While a young man he was elected township clerk, and the records show a very neat journal was made by him. At the organization of Ashland County in 1846, he was selected as county auditor, a position he held until 1851. He made an efficient, industrious and conscientious officer, and was much respected for his integrity and personal worth. At the expiration of his term of office he opened a dry goods store in Ashland; but the enterprise proved unfortunate, and he failed in business, losing pretty much all the capital he had invested. He then recommenced the life of a farmer, which seems more congenial to his nature.He purchased the west half of what is known as the Nicholas Rutan farm, near his old home in Milton, to which he removed in 1867.During his residence in Ashland he took an active interest in the public schools, and was repeatedly a member of the board of education.
When a young man he became a member of the Baptist church of Windsor, and in 1846 joined the Disciple church of Ashland, of which he remained a member until 1867, when he was transferred to the Clearcreek Disciple church, of which he is now an active member. Mr. Burns is regarded as an exemplary, high-toned and conscientious Christian. When he arrived in Milton, in 1820, he recollects the following pioneers had preceded his father: Frederick Sulcer, James Kelley, James Andrews, Amos, and Samuel Hilburn, Peter Lance, William Dickey, James Crawford, John Kent, Robert Andrews, Robert Nelson, and a few others. The first mill he attended was Reynolds' near Windsor. In 1821 he attended Newman's mill to obtain grist. The first preachers, Presbyterian, were Robert Lee and Mr. Matthews; and of the Methodist, Mr. Haney and Mr. Hazard; and of the Baptist, Mr. Jones, from 1820 to 1825