Biography of David Burris

David Burris, whose death occurred at his residence in Sonoma, January 5, 1904, was one of the most highly respected and wealthiest of Sonoma county citizens, and his death closed a long and useful life, many years of which were spent in old Sonoma and other parts of this state. He was prominently connected with financial and business affairs of Sonoma county for half a century, and few men were better known in this section of the state. His name was a synonym for honor and integrity, and he will be long remembered for the public-spirited part he bore in affairs pertaining to the general welfare. Wherever he came in contact with his fellow men the influence of his strong and aggressive character was felt, and power and energy seemed to radiate from his being and compel action. He lacked one day of reaching the eightieth milestone of his life’s course, and from the very early years of this life he gave himself to usefulness and activity, his business experience covering a large territory of the United States. He was especially familiar with the events in the development and progress of this great Pacific coast state, and his life was a most edifying example of the progressive and noble-hearted western pioneer.

The late David Burris was born in Old Franklin, Howard county, Missouri, January 6, 1824, only three years after the state was admitted to the Union, and at a time when pioneer primitive conditions were everywhere over that now great state. He was educated in one of the old-fashioned district schools, and with the greater part of his younger years devoted to labor rather than to the present easy life of the schoolboy.

In the late summer of 1846, during the Mexican war, he was engaged to haul provisions, for the United States army, from Fort Leavenworth at Mexico, and in this occupation passed through many thrilling experiences. In May, 1849, the Pleasant Hill Company, of which Mr. Burris and his eldest brother were members, crossed the plains to California by what was called the Lawson route. In October of the same year the Burris brothers engaged in mining at Bidwell’s bar, on Feather river. In the fall of 1850 Mr. Burris moved to Plumas county, where he mined with success, and from there moved to Sonoma county in 1851, so that he was one of the earliest settlers of the county where he passed most of his subsequent years. In 1852 he returned to Missouri and remained there until the spring of 1856, when he started to California with a big herd of cattle. When he and his men reached Humboldt creek they were attacked by a band of Indians, and in the battle royal which ensued the Indians were routed, however not until two white men were wounded. In the winter of 1856-7 Mr. Burris was located in Napa county, and in the fall of 1857 he moved to Tulare county, where he was engaged in stock-raising and trading until 1869, when he took up his abode in Sonoma county, this time for a life-long resident.

Mr. Burris was prosperous in his business and agricultural enterprises, and at his death owned a large amount of property. He was one of the founders of the Santa Rosa Bank and of the Sonoma Valley Bank, and was president of the latter institution for many years. He had retired in the main from active participation in business, and was in failing health for some time before his death.

Mr. Burris is survived by his wife, Julia A. Burris, and the following children: Mrs. Henry Hopper, of Ukiah; Walter, Joshua, Henry and Edward Burris, of Tulare; Mrs. Alice Walker, of San Francisco; Mrs. Laura Draper, of Tulare; Frank Burris, assistant cashier of the Santa Rosa Bank; and Mrs. Dora Glaister, of Sonoma. L. W. burris, cashier of the Santa Rosa Bank, and Jesse Burris, cashier of the Sonoma Bank, are nephews of David Burris.

Mr. Burris’ remains were interred in the family vault at Cypress Lawn cemetery, San Mateo county.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

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