History of the Restoration Movement

Charles Earl Burns


Source: Johnson City Press and Staff News, Johnson City, Tennessee,
Sunday, August 25, 1940, page 6

The Life of C. E. Burns

Charles Earl Burns was born September 14, 1883, in Keota, Keokuk County, Iowa. He was the son of Charles Ruston Burns (1854-1920) and Sarah Phina Fry (1857-1932). He married Florence Elizabeth Anthony (1888-1963) on October 21, 1906. They had eight children, George Albert Anthony Burns (1899-1978), Earl Anthony Burns (1907-1995), Dr. Clyde Edwin Burns (1909-1962), Virginia Ruth Burns Elder (1912-1976), Samuel Paul Burns (1914-1979), Myrtle Elizabeth Burns Grant (1915-2012), Florence Carolyn Burns Hilsenbeck (1917-2009), and Minnie Pauline Burns Fugate (1914-2012).

Charles attended Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then attended the University of Chicago, which led to the Master of Arts degree. Further studies took him west, where he attended the University of California.

He served briefly as a professor at Johnson Bible College, Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee.

Burns first went to Milligan College in 1919 as a professor of religion. He resigned in 1921 to become minister of the Christian church in Valparaiso, Indiana. In 1927 he returned to the Milligan as a professor of economics and minister of Hopwood Christian Church. He served several years as dean of men.

Source: Johnson City Press And Staff News, Johnson City, Tennessee
Sunday, August 17, 1941, p.20

When H. J. Derthick resigned as president of Milligan College in 1940, the Board of Trustees selected C. E. Burns as acting president beginning September 1, 1940. About nine months later, he was elected president.

During his tenure, the world was at war. Under Burns' leadership, Milligan College turned its campus over to the U.S. Navy. Recruits came to their campus to prepare for the military, something very uncommon among places of higher learning.

At the end of the school year in 1944, Charles resigned from the presidency and was replaced by Virgil Elliott as president. It was reported that he desired to be more active in evangelism. The family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he became the religious coordinator of the radio station WHAS. He retired from this work in 1948, and the older couple then retired in northern Miami, Florida.

In 1961, C. E. Burns was the commencement speaker at the 80th annual Baccalaureate services for Milligan College. On the occasion, he was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.

Florence died September 23, 1963, and burial occurred at the family plot in Milligan College Cemetery. Note: Earlier, she had served on a committee to refurbish and maintain the cemetery.

Charles remarried Gwendolyn Miles in Dade County, Florida (1897-1971). The two were married in September 1964. In December 1971, she passed away.

His last days were with one of his children in Soddy-Daisy, Hamilton County, Tennessee. This is where he passed away on February 13, 1975, at the age of 91. His remains were returned to the campus of Milligan College, where he was laid to rest next to his first wife, Florence.  Two of their sons, Earl Anthony and Clyde Edwin are also buried in the family plot.

-Scott Harp, 12.29.2022

Dr. Derthick Steps Down As President

Johnson City Chronicle, Johsnson City, Tennessee
Tuesday, May 28, 1940, p. 1,2
(Click article to zoom in)

C. E. Burns Named Interrim President

Johnson City Press And Staff News, Johnson City, Tennessee
Tuesday, May 28, 1940, p.4

Burns At Hopwood Christian Church Since 1927

Johnson City Chronicle, Johnson City, Tennessee
Sunday, April 6, 1941, p.3

Milligan College Trustees Name C. E. Burns President

Johnson City Press, Johnson City, Tennessee
Tuesday, May 27, 1941, p.1

Professor C. E. Burns Chosen As President

Kingsport Times, Kingsport, Tennessee
Wednesday, May 28, 1941, p.12

Florence Burns Receives An Award

Johnson City Press, Johnson City, Tennessee
Thursday, May 14, 1942, p. 10

C. E. Burns Speaks

Kingsport Times, Kingsport, Tennessee
Firday, June 19, 1942, p.8

Dr. C. E. Burns To Preach

Elizabethton Daily Star, Elizabethton, Tennessee
Saturday, July 11, 1942, p.1

President Burns With Naval Officers

Johnson City Press Chronicle, Johnson City, Tennessee
Sunday, August 1, 1943, p. 10

C. E. Burns Gives Up The College Helm

Johnson City Press Chronicle
, Johnson City, Tennessee
Friday, December 24, 1943, p. 1

Picnic To Entertain Dr. & Mrs. Burns

Johnson City Press Chronicle, Johnson City, Tennessee
Thursday, May 25, 1944, p. 5

C. E. Burns To Move To Louisville, Kentucky

Johnson City Press Chronicle
, Johnson City, Tennessee
Thursday, July 6, 1944, p.7

80th Commencement . . . Milligan Graduation - C. E. Burns Speaks

Johnson City Press Chronicle
, Johnson City, Tennessee
Friday, May 26, 1961, p. 3

Obituary for Charles E. Burns

The Miami Herald, Miami, Florida
Saturday, February 15, 1975, p.3-B

Directions To Grave

In East Tennessee, take I-24 and head south of Johnson City, Tennessee. Take Hwy. 359/Milligan Hwy. Enter the campus on Blowers Blvd. Take the 3rd right and park somewhere. Head toward the rear and you'll see Williams Cemetery Also known as Milligan College Cemetery. It is located between the Baker Faculty Office Center and the tennis courts.

GPS Location
36°17'52.2"N 82°17'44.2"W
or D.d. 36.297834, -82.295598

President Of Milligan College
Dr. Charles Earl Burns
September 14, 1883 - February 13, 1975
Florence Anthony Burns - October 29, 1888 - September 23, 1963

Earl Anthony Burns
December 3, 1907
November 10, 1995
Son of C.E. and Florence Burns

Dr. Clyde Edwin Burns
October 23, 1909
November 20, 1962
Son of C. E. and Florence Burns

Photos Taken 04.19.2021
Webpage produced 12.29.2022
Courtesy Of Scott Harp

Special Recognition: C. Wayne Kilpatrick and Tom Childers traveled with your webeditor to East Tennessee to locate the final resting place of A. A. Ferguson. Many thanks to all. Some of the photos on this page were taken by Tom. Also, I should remember a kind lady whose name I can not recall who was visiting the cemetery the day we were there. She was most friendly and most helpful. She had grown up around the college and had been connected with someone in its faculty. When we arrived, we were only looking for the graves of Samuel Shelburne and A. A. Ferguson. When we told her what we were doing, she proceeded to show us a few other graves of special people in the cemetery. One was that of Dr. Orvel C. Crowder (grandson of Hall L. Calhoun), C. E. Burns, and others—teachers and dignitaries of Milligan College. So, many, many thanks to that kind lady.


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