Judge Waller Thomas Burns


Judge Waller Thomas Burns

Fayette County, Texas, USA
Death 17 Nov 1917 (aged 59)
Laredo, Webb County, Texas, USA
Burial La Grange, Fayette County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 67724401 View Source

Contributed by #47408081

Laredo Weekly Times 18 Nov 1917

Able and Popular Jurist Died Within Forty-eight Hours After Attack on Thursday.

His Death Has Cast A Gloom Over the Community: Family and Friends on Special Train Arrive Before He Died: Funeral To Be Held Monday in La Grange.

Within forty-eight hours after being stricken with the attack of uremia which caused him to leave the funeral court room on Thursday morning at 10 o'clock and take to his bed at the Hamilton Hotel immediately, Judge Waller T. Burns, presiding officer of the United States Court for the Southern District of Texas, passed away at 7:15 o'clock this morning while his wife, son and numerous friends kept vigil at his bedside, the patient never having regained consciousness since early yesterday. Those who had been with him from the moment of his indisposition on Thursday morning and gradually noticed his condition from more critical, despaired of his recovery after all that human hands and medical skill could do to bring about a change for the better in his condition. The only information that could be elicited from the sickroom was the statements that Judge Burns condition was critical and there was little hope for recovery.
Last night those in attendance did not expect him to survive the night or long enough to be alive when the special train from Houston bringing his wife, his son Coke K. Burns, and intimate friends of the patient could reach here. The special train reached Laredo at 3:30 this morning, coming in a private car, were the following being aboard: Mrs. Waller T. Burns and son Coke K Burns, Captain James A. Baker, receiver of the I & G. N., Thronwell Fay, John A. Moberly, Dr. Graven Hamilton and a trained nurse. The special train left Houston yesterday morning shortly after it was ascertained that the condition of Judge Burns was serious and his family had been summoned to his bedside. They arrived here less than four hours before the end came and Mrs. Burns and her son, as well as several intimate friends were at his bedside when Judge Burns breathed his last.
This morning his body was taken in the Convery Undertaking establishment and prepared for shipment to Houston, for which place it left at noon today. Accompanying the remains to Houston were the grief stricken wife and son, United States Attorney Green, United States Marshall Herring, and other members of the federal court; Captain James A Baker, Thornwell Fay, John A. Moberly, Dr Gavin Hamikon, Marshall Hicks, United States Consul Randolph Robertson of Monterrey and others. Members of the Webb County Bar accompanied the remains to the station.
The death of Judge Burns came as a severe shock to his many friends as it was only last Sunday that he arrived here to convene the regular November term of federal court on Monday morning. At the time of the opening of court told some of his friends that he was feeling slightly indisposed, perhaps due to a cold he had, and that he did not feel much like holding court. This condition apparently continued until Thursday morning. At 10 o'clock he reconvened court for the day and had just sentenced two smugglers and at the conclusion of passing sentence on a gypsy named George Montes charged with attempting to bribe a federal officer, he was stricken with a severe chill and immediately announced that court would be recessed until the afternoon. HE left the courtroom assisted by officers and was taken to his room at the Hamilton Hotel, where he seemed to rest easy for awhile and then his condition became worse. That afternoon, upon instruction from Judge Burns in his bed, court was recessed until Friday morning, but when that time arrived the condition of Judge Burns had become precarious, as a change for the worse had occurred during the night and his family had been summoned to his bedside immediately and they came on a special train.
For the past fifteen years Judge Burns had been the presiding officer of the United States Court for the Southern District of Texas, making his headquarters in Houston, from which place he had been appointed to the federal bench in 1902 by President Roosevelt. A more lenient and more popular jurist never sat on the bench in any Texas court, and the law was always administered by him without fear or favor and in a fair and impartial manner.During his tenure of office Judge Burns enjoyed the distinction of having less of his decisions revered by the United States Court of Appeals than any other judge, as during the fifteen years that he served as federal judge only two instances are reported where the higher court reversed a decision rendered by him. While judge of the Southern District of Texas Judge Burns had thousands of Mexicans to face him on the charges of smuggling, and of these he made friends, for in giving them sentences that he considered deserving, he also addressed them in that heart to heart manner that caused the regeneration of many such men. The officers of the federal court and their subordinates held Judge Burns in the highest esteem, for, never, overbearing in his mien, he always greeted them in a most cordial manner and his salutary greetings were always received with that feeling of friendliness in which it was given. As a jurist and lawyer Judge Burns was looked upon by his profession as one of the most able men in the South, and his death at the times leaves a vacancy on the federal bench that will be keenly felt. Succumbing to illness at the time when he was presiding over a regular term of court, that tribunal is adjourned until his successor shall have been named, or another federal judge is sent here from another district to complete the unfinished work.
The body of Judge Burns will reach Houston tomorrow morning and from there taken immediately on a special train over the M. K & T to La Grange where the funeral will be held on Monday


He was admitted to the bar in 1882 and practiced law in Galveston until 1888, when he became attorney for the Houston and Texas Central Railway.
In 1882 he married Maggie Evelyn Killough; they had four sons.
His second wife was Grace McLemore Willis of Houston, married in 1913

Waller T. Burns was appointed as the first United States District Judge in the Southern district of Texas on April 22, 1902

1900 Harris Co, TX
Waller T Burns 42
Maggie K Burns 42
Coke K Burns 17
Waller T Burns 2

1910 Fayette Co, TX
Waller T Burns 52
Adelia Burns 72 (mother)
Uvalde Burns 29 (nephew)
Coke Burns 29
Waller T Burns 12
Richard Burns 9
Kelle Howlans 27
Jim Howlans 29

Wife: MARGARET EVELINE "Mag" KILLOUGH, b. 24 APR 1858, Fayette Co., TX; d. 20 JAN 1906


COKE KILLOUGH BURNS, b. 12 DEC 1882, La Grange, Fayette Co., TX; d. 30 SEP 1918, New York City, N. Y. Co., NY; bur. La Grange, TX; single.

TEMPLE BOWEN BURNS, b. 6 MAY 1887; d. 18 JAN 1888.

WALLER THOMAS BURNS, Jr., b. 03 JAN 1898, Houston, Harris Co., TX; m. 25 MAY 1921, Mary Webb James. Resided Brownsville, TX.

RICHARD FAIRES BURNS, b. 01 JAN 1901, Flatonia, Fayette Co., TX; m. 28 JAN 1932, Dorothy Fields. Occ.: lawyer. Res. Houston, TX.

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