Robert Franklin Burns

Is your surname Burns?

Research the Burns family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Robert Franklin Burns

Also Known As: "Big Boozer", "Boozer Burns"
Birthplace: Clay County, Kentucky, United States
Death: June 08, 1928 (73)
Clay County, Kentucky, United States (Organic Heart Disease)
Place of Burial: Oneida, Clay County, Kentucky
Immediate Family:

Son of Perry Baker Burns and Massa F. Burns (Hacker)
Husband of Action Burns (Hacker) and America Burns (Barger)
Father of Irvin Robert Burns; Chester Burns; Naoma Burns; Adna Bowling (Burns); Sarah B. Stidham (Burns) and 1 other
Brother of Alfred Hacker "Lapper" Burns; Daniel Boone Burns; Samuel Burns; Harve Cody Burns; Alex Burns and 2 others

Managed by: Lloyd Alfred Doss, Jr.
Last Updated:

About Robert Franklin Burns

The man Clay County knew as “Boozer” or “Big Boozer” was born Robert Franklin Burns on 4 May 1855. He was the son of Amossa F. “Massie” Hacker and Perry Baker Burns. Robert Franklin Burns first married Action Hacker and had two children [I could not confirm these two]. Later, he married America Barger (28 July 1887, in Clay County). She was born 3 January 1870 and died 21 April 1947 – that marriage produced sixteen children. I have a photocopy of Frank Boozer’s death certificate which states that he died of “organic heart disease (mitral leak)” on 8 June 1928. The death certificate also states that he was 73 years, 1 month and 4 days old at the time of his death. The certificate bears an erroneous birth year clearly marked as 1885; making him only 57 years old.

Frank “Big Boozer” Burns was born too late to be directly involved in the American Civil War. However, he was old enough to see and know its tragedy. What he did know and feel the shock of throughout his childhood and much of his adult life, were the Eastern Kentucky feuds. His efforts, the efforts of his brother, Alford “Lapper” Burns, and many others to end the feuds of Clay County are legendary. I am speaking, of course, of his part in opening the Oneida Baptist Institute. According to Mountain Rising by D.C. Richardson, Frank Boozer Burns was the first man to speak to James Anderson Burns upon his appearance at Frank’s logging operation on Bull Skin Creek, upon James Anderson’s migration to Kentucky.

“The long duel of silence was finally broken by Frank “Big Boozer” Burns, owner and operator of the log camp. He walked over to the impassive figure [J.A. Burns] on the nail keg and greeted him with the usual words, “What might your name be, Stranger?”

Frank is mentioned ten more times in Richardson’s book, highlighting his assistance and participation in the building of OBI. It is from the photographic work of Claude Carson Matlack that we have an excellent photo of Frank and his brother Alford. On Page 13 of Matlack’s book, Dawn Comes to the Mountains we find the group, including Frank, who sponsored and commissioned the building of the mountain school. We also find here that Frank ripped the boards from his own home loft and transported them to Oneida so that McMurray Hall might be finished in time for the school opening. It goes on to explain this action was taken in “freezing weather.”

We know Frank’s part in the building of OBI to be absolute truth. Another side of him which is legend as far as this author can determine, is his relationship with Frank James. That is not to say that it is a lie, only that it cannot be validated at this time. Allegedly, Frank Boozer Burns knew Frank James personally and had entertained him and his notorious brother, Jesse, several times at his log-cabin home in Clay County. The legend further claims that while doing a Wild West show in Floyd County, Kentucky, Frank James stayed with Boozer Burns. That would have been quite a fast horse or wagon to get Frank James back and forth between those two points. There is record that verifies Frank James did do such a show in Floyd County, though. The legend goes on to state that Frank James left Boozer’s home the last morning and gave him a pistol. The pistol, throughout the years, as is true of most legends, has never been sighted.

Someone has perpetuated the notion that the Burns family of Clay County, Kentucky is related to the James family. I think that has been dis-proven by DNA. The James family was related to Revolutionary War patriot William Cornett of Kentucky and they applied for DAR membership through William. William Cornett is an ancestor of mine on my mother’s side – therefore I guess (if it had any meaning for me) I could claim relations with the outlaw brothers through him.

Robert Franklin Burns owned a saw mill as part of his logging operation. One of his sons, Irvin Robert Burns, who married his own distant cousin, Paralee Burns, was killed in an explosion at that mill. Paralee Burns was the daughter of my G-Great Grandfather, Andy “A.J.” and Nancy Davidson Burns.

Both Robert Franklin and his last wife America are buried in the Oneida Cemetery. James Anderson Burns is buried close by. I have photos of both their headstones. Boozer’s headstone is marked merely, “RF.” Without doubt, there is so much more to the life and times of Robert Franklin “Big Boozer” Burns. Since I am not a direct decedent of Boozer but only a distant clansman, I am forced to rely on the research available on the internet or in books.

view all 11

Robert Franklin Burns's Timeline

May 4, 1855
Clay County, Kentucky, United States
February 6, 1876
Bullskin, Clay County, Kentucky, United States
February 26, 1895
Oneida, Clay County, Kentucky, United States
August 23, 1914
Clay County, Kentucky
June 8, 1928
Age 73
Clay County, Kentucky, United States
June 1928
Age 73
Oneida, Clay County, Kentucky
Clay County, Kentucky
Clay County, Kentucky