Col. John T. Burris, who was born in Butler County, Ohio, in December, 1828, spent his boyhood and youth in Kentucky. He went to Iowa in 1847, served in the Mexican war from that state, cultivated a farm for several years which he obtained on a soldier’s land warrant, and in 1852 sold his land and opened a hotel at Fredonia on the Iowa River. Soon afterward he commenced the study of law, was admitted to the bar in 1853, two years later was elected judge of the County Court and in 1858 settled at Olathe, Kansas.
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Colonel Burris was elected a member of the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention in 1859. In the spring of 1861 he served as sergeant in Lane’s Frontier Guards, and soon afterward Lincoln appointed him district attorney of the new state. He enlisted in August, 1861, and became lieutemant colonal of the Fourth Kansas Infantry, continuing with it and its successor, the Tenth, until the close of the Civil war. At its close he returned to Olathe and resumed practice. In 1865 he was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, of which he served as speaker; was chosen attorney of Johnson County in 1866, and three years later was appointed judge of the Tenth District; also in 1869 was again elected to the lower house of the Legislature. Colonel Burris was one of the projectors and organizers of the Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad and active and influential in many other fields of practical improvement.