The Early Life of

Anthony Burns











History 312: Civil War and Reconstruction Student Web Sites



Anthony Burns was born on May 31, 1834 in Stafford County, Virginia (von Frank 305). He was born to slave parents who belonged to John Suttle. His mother had been married three times and had a total of 13 children, Anthony being the youngest. His father, his motherís third husband, died before he could remember. A few years later, Mr. Suttle died, and due to financial problems, Mrs. Suttle sold five of Anthonyís brothers and sisters. The remaining Suttle slaves were often hired out, which resulted in a two-year separation for Burns from his mother (Stevens 151-53).

Around the time Burns turned six years old, Mrs. Suttle passed away leaving the estate to her son, Mr. Charles F. Suttle (Stevens 153). From this time on, Anthony was hired out to several people, performing a variety of duties. He worked as a personal servant, sawmill worker, and tavern servant. In addition to these skills, he also learned to read and write (Pease 28).

He also had several religious experiences throughout this time. He was baptized and accepted into the Baptist Church at Falmouth. Blacks and whites both attended this church, but were separated by a partition. A couple of years later, Anthony applied to his fellow brethren to be recognized as a preacher. Although violating Virginia law, which prohibited any assembly by slaves without a white person present, Burns would preach to small congregations of slaves. He was also often called upon to perform marriages and funerals among slaves (Stevens 165-67).


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This page was last updated on 02/02/00