Burr was born at Onondaga Hill, NY, to Stephen and Olive Burton. His father was a graduate of Dartmouth College and was one of the early and active settlers of Onondaga Township. Burr left home and settled in Salina (now a part of Syracuse) at age 16. He became one of the leading salt manufacturers in Syracuse. He also erected an iron foundry, was one of the directors of the First National Bank, and was an alderman of his ward. Burr was famous for his untimely death. He was shot on the morning of May 3, 1865 and died a little over 24 hours later on May 4th. Reportedly, he and his wife were awakened by someone rattling the front door knob. Then they heard smashing glass. Burton went to investigate and was shot in the lung and other organs were affected. Dr. A. B. Shipman was one of the doctors who attempted to save Burr's life.
On the same day as the crime, Fred Ganier was arrested on suspicion of murder. Previously he had been heard making threats. On May 6, Ganier appeared before a coroner's jury and was subsequently released from custody.
Soon thereafter two men, Michael Welsh and Thomas Dailey, became suspects. Both had histories of burglary and larceny and were about to begin serving jail terms when Dailey confessed to being an accomplice in the botched robbery which resulted in Burton's death. Later it was revealed that Dailey confessed in order to get the reward money.
In December 1865 a convicted murderer, Henry Wilson, confessed to Burr's murder the night before being executed by hanging in Geneseo, NY. An account of Wilson's story indicated that he was traveling from Albany to Buffalo, mostly by foot at night committing burglaries as he went. He was on the north side of Syracuse to "spot" a house to enter and chose Burton's. After hours of surveillance and a premature attempt to enter the house due to people still being awake, he slept a while in his hiding place across the street and awoke at 2:00 a.m. He then approached the house, broke the glass, and attempted to find the lock on the inside of the door. When Burton approached the door, Wilson was determined to not let him get away, which had happened the night before during another burglary attempt, so he took aim and fired. Wilson again slid his hand up and down the inside of the door looking for a bolt or lock when he heard someone stir inside the house and he fled the crime. He said he ran, then walked to the east side of the city looking for somebody else. "I felt ugly, and I wanted to shoot somebody else that night." But he saw no one. The next day he started down the track to Canastota, NY, and took the rail to Buffalo. In this summary, Wilson denied killing the man for which he was executed, but confessed to killing five others. This information was originally presented in a narrative of his crimes, which Wilson wrote to be published so that the proceeds could stand as compensation to his lawyer.
Children of Burr and Laura Burton:
Died in infancy