My name is Mary Burns. I was
a little girl, growing up in Pittsburgh. I had 4 brothers, my dad had 5
sisters, my grandfather had 8 sisters and a brother nobody ever mentioned.
My grandfather's name was
Joseph Anthony Burns. He had quit school at 12 years old. His father,
John Charles Burns, my Great grandfather was the youngest conductor on the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Less than an hour after my grandfather had
walked him down to the station in Alison Park, Pa., the train lurched to a
start at the Struther's Ohio station. It was Thanksgivingnight, November,
My greatgrandmother's youngest
child was only 6 weeks old. My grandfather took on the primary care and
feeding of the family. My greatgrandmother, Mary Emma Miller Burns, had
an Uncle. His name was Thomas Noble Miller. He was Andrew Carnegie's
first business partner and the person that Carnegie credits with much of
his success in Andrew's handwritten autobiography.
Uncle Thomas helped my great
grandmother with the mortgage, saw to it that my grandfather found work
appropriate for a 12 year old, and was a generous benefactor to her. My
grandfather eventually honored his commitment to stay at home until all of
the girls were on their own. He put his own marriage off for 3 years. It
is told that when he met his prospective father-in-law, he laid his hand
the older man's large farmer's hand to shake it. He was so warmly
welcomed, and so grateful to have a fatherly presence, that he began to
cry. When he married at the age of 23, he took his 12 year old sister into
his new household with him. He and my grandmother went on to have 5
daughters and one son (my father) of their own. When my grandmother's
sister died, he and my grandmother helped raise her 5 children as well.
my 4 brothers and I were out of school for the summers, he had jobs for us
all at the pool that he had built in the 20's. It was that pool that had
carried his family of 8 through the depression after his business failed.
He lived until I was 18. I wish I had appreciated what an amazing person
he was while he was till alive. I am happy to share him with you. We are
part of the group of rebellous artists who left Scotland for Ulster and
Ulster for Pittsburgh. As I have searched and researched, it seems to me
that our true home is Scotland.
My dad and my brothers have
music, I have art, another is a story teller, 2 of us are inventors, most
us are poets. We are Burns' after all. This is me in 1957 painted from
a black and white photo. I actually remember the color of the dress! As
for Thomas Noble Miller, the biographies of Andrew Carnegie no longer
include him, only his autobiography speaks of him. I am on a search for
answers on the mysterious missing history of Uncle Thomas. Wondering
where in Scotland we Burns', Kerrs, Browns, and Clarks may have sprung
from, for there is surely the seed of our genius and our sorrow.