James H. Burns
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

JAMES H. BURNS—The undertaking business in Troy, New York, which has been conducted by members of the Burns family for three generations, has engaged the attention of Mr. Burns ever since his school days. He is a man of modesty and unwilling to admit the full value of his contribution to the civic progress of the community.

James H. Burns was born at Troy, New York, a son of John W. and Ellen (Gorman) Burns. His education began in St. Peter's Parochial School and continued in La Salle Institute and the Troy Business College. After completing the business course, he began to learn the details of the undertaking business with his father. This enterprise was established about 1835, by John Burns, and at his death the business was continued by his son, John W., who was born in Troy, in 1840, and who took over the undertaking and livery business, being a pioneer in conducting the latter, which grew to be the largest and best equipped establishment of its kind in the city. In addition to the time required in promoting the best interest of his undertaking business, he took an active part in civic betterment and devoted much attention to charitable work, being especially interested in the home for the poor and aged. He was also trustee of the Troy Plospital and St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church. He accepted only one political office, that of coroner, being appointed by Governor Seymour. His honorable and highly successful career was brought to a close in death, which occurred April 9, 1881, being survived by the following five children: John George, deceased; Cornelius F.; James H.; David A., deceased; and Nellie M. The business is now controlled by Cornelius F. and James H. Burns, subject of this sketch.

Mr. Burns has been a Democrat in politics all his life, but never sought any office. He was appointed postmaster of Troy, New York, by President Wilson, May 4, 1914, and reappointed November 21, 1918. After retirement from that office, in November, 1922, he returned to active participation in the affairs of the undertaking business. He is a member of the Troy Chamber of Commerce; Laureate Boat Club; and Troy Lodge, No. 141, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. In religion he is a member of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church.

Mr. Burns was united in marriage with Jessie M. Kehn, who is a native of Troy, New York.

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