Ed "Big Ed" Burns

Ed &Quot;Big Ed&Quot; Burns

Ed "Big Ed" Burns

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This article is about the 19th century con-man; for other people with the same name, see Edward Burns .


Edward "Big Ed" Burns was an American 19th century confidence man and crime boss. He was born around 1842 in Buffalo, New York.Inter Ocean (Chicago), 09/07/1881, p. 8. In 1861 he began a bunco career in Chicago, Illinois. He joined his older brothers. Burns worked as a stonemason for some years. He also became a sailor on Lake Michigan, as second mate on a private yacht. His brother John Burns was first mate.

About 1866 he strangled a man to death and was sentenced to nine years in Joliet, an Illinois prison.Inter Ocean, 06/14/1875, p. 5.Inter Ocean, 06/14/1875, p. 5. And 06/22/1875, p. 4.

In April 1877 he was reported as the leader of a bunco gang on Chicago’s south side where he used his gang to influence votes for political candidates. In a fight, Burns was shot in the thigh. He was arrested as ring-leader of buncoing. He was arrested again for vagrancy. He fled Chicago and a $300 bond. Returning in six months, he was arrested on the previous vagrancy charge and for robbery. At trial the charge was dismissed because he could show plenty of money, a profession as a peddler of soap, and a saloon in a building he had rented from a city alderman....
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