By Richard Flavin
Early in November 2005, on the online 'Ancient Lost Treasures/Burrows Cave' ezboard forum, a new poster by the netnick of “Missouri Brigade” presented himself as an old acquaintance of Russ Burrows and a fellow Civil War era re-enactment participant. He also claimed to have been taken by Russ to the “cave” and challenged anyone on the forum to produce a qualified archaeologist willing to investigate the “cave.” I answered the challenge, but have yet to receive a response (as of 11-28-05). The matter of military service was introduced and things got a skosh ugly. A transcript of the posts is available here.
Now, putting a copy of my honorable discharge from federal service online was a difficult thing for me to do. Everyone is supposed to guard themselves against identity-theft (though I can’t imagine who would wish themselves in my well-worn shoes), yet I felt it was appropriate even to publically show at what rank I was discharged (Private E-1). However, I was reminded by the exchange that the military background of Russell E. Burrows has always been called into question and his claimed state awarded honorific rank in the so-called Reactivated Illinois State Militia has remained something of a joke in the ever decreasing circles that still bother to discuss the Burrows Cave hoax.
(Burrows and Rydholm 1992; p. 23) Used without permission.
Of course our citizens benefit from Civil War era re-enactments; home-soil battles should not be forgotten. These are reconstructions by actors, entertainers, amateurs and hobbyists and serve to show on a staged level some of the strategy and lack thereof of our Civil War soldiers. I personally have problems with some of the sentiments and inspirations associated with those who re-enact for the slave-owning South, but I move off to other areas best left unexplored in this aside. When I met Russ, in early 1994, he claimed to hold a state awarded honorific rank of Colonel. I didn’t address him as “Col. Burrows,” as such "ranks" do not require formal recognition. He was “Mr. Burrows” to his audience and book-buyers, although he also claimed some vague prior military service. In an early conversation with Russ I spoke about my service in the National Guard, my father’s stint in Korea and two tours in Viet Nam, and my brother’s service as a marine in Viet Nam. He grunted, nodded, did not provide any personal information about himself and the conversation switched to other topics.
A few months later, "Col. Burrows" was promoted to "Gen. Burrows" or "Brig. Gen. Burrows," and a few months after that the Reactivated Illinois State Militia was disbanded. Two publications in 1995 by Burrows do not use his honorific rank (Burrows 1995a & Burrows 1995b), while a third publication in 1995 has "Brig. Gen. Burrows" and one in 1996 uses "Gen. Burrows." (Burrows 1995c & Burrows 1996)
Two early publications are almost polarized to each other (Ward 1985 & Burrows and Rydholm 1992). One says a lot, the other skips a few decades and begins with Russ as a truck-driver and later as involved with Civil War re-enactments. In one photograph, Russ is decked out with the Civil War era tails of a colonel and chief of staff to a Lt. General. The uniform worn by Russ would appear to be well made and costly.
(Burrows and Rydholm 1992; p. 30) Used without permission.
In another photograph Russ is described as “Col. Russell Burrows” and shown in a rumpled and wrinkled post WWII Army winter dress uniform. It is not the uniform one would expect to be worn by someone engaged in Civil War re- enactments. Actually, the sorry condition of the pictured uniform is such that it should never have been worn in the first place! But, that’s neither here nor there...
(Burrows and Rydholm 1992; p. 40) Used without permission.
A third photograph shows Russ in a (presumably) non-military camouflage suit with a shoulder patch of the 101st Airborne. Russ, it would seem, enjoys wearing military and military-style clothing. I’m unsure if these three examples are enough to posit a uniform fetish or costume compulsion, but the Army Cavalry officer lapel pin together with the 101st Airborne patch suggest other issues of character, such as genuine rank and service commemoration and honorific or hobbyist reasons. The cavalry pin of a state sponsored re-enactment officer on a somewhat modern Army dress uniform is a bizarre combination, but there could be a legitimate reason, such as Russ was attending some Illinois state matter that didn’t require period uniforms, he was at another state’s re-enactment function, etc. The 101st Airborne patch suggests different reasons.
Versions of the above photo from online sources; used without permission.
Appealing to Occam’s clean shave, Russ could have been in the 101st Airborne, or wore the patch in honor of another, or the camouflage suit and patch belonged to someone else, or the suit was commercially purchased with the patch already sown on, etc. Or it could indicate a military divisional and unit behavioral preoccupation. Some folks feel the need to pretend to belong to other branches of the service than they had previously been part of or to misrepresent what specific divisions or units they'd actually served with. Is there an honorable reason for Russ to publish a photograph of himself (as “Col. Burrows”) supposed just after he discovered a fantastic cave filled with gold and dead bodies? Who took the photograph? A state honorific designation of colonel in a re-enactment entertainment unit is one thing, but to be falsely represented as a one-time federal officer entitled to wear the shoulder patch of the 101st Airborne is wrong, perhaps illegal, and could be indicative of certain compulsive behavioral patterns often found in folks with serious psychological issues.
It’s not my contention to enter into a debate about the past and recent sexual practices and vulgar motivations of Russ, at least not at this time. That Russ is a liar has been established and variously excused or overlooked as ultimately inconsequential (to some) when explaining the presence of thousands of engraved portable rock art acquired from Russ with almost Occam-thin exclusivity. Rather, I’m challenging the claims of Russ that he was ever a colonel in the federal (read: "real") Army. Also, there are basic uniform-wearing character perversions attached and readily capable of explaining other attire and status position peculiarities. It’s about the character of Russ and the widespread phenomena of stupid folk believing Russ and his tall tales.
Cavalry officer lapel pin. 101st Airborne patch.
Background of Russel Burrows of Olney, Ill.
1935 Born 1935, Richwood, West Virginia. Parents were Earl. V. Burrows (Deceased) Amanda J. Burrows
1952 Graduated from High School 1952 Enlisted in U.S. Army 1952 Sent to Korea 1952
1953 Commissioned (Battlefield Commission) or cannon fodder. Wounded twicw, Decorated five times, 1 Bronze Star, 2 Silver stars, 1 Legion of Merit, 2 Purple Hearts US Disability. Repatriated to Continental U.S. Promoted to 1st Leutenant. Took and passed U.S. Army OfficersQualification, retained Commission. Went inactive to attend college 2 years at West Virginia University majoring in archaeology.
1955 Reactivated, sent tp Advanced Ranger training in guerilla warfare. Posted in Leopold in South Africa to help put down Mau-Mau uprising.
1960 Applied for and accepted for Special Forces Training,
1961 Posted in Siagon.
1963 Returned to the United States.Resigned Commission -0-6-Col.
Forged orders by Burrows (click image to enlarge), Burrows with chest-salad & the same uniform without chest-salad.
Perhaps during the early to mid-90s and the early stages of personal printers (laser and ink-jet), Russ forged federal military service correspondence to support Ward’s claims regarding Russ’ federal military service record. Or maybe it was later or maybe someone did it to hurt him, not knowing how hot passing mustard can get. Burrows is a poor forger, yet stupid folk seem to continually line up to accept his lies. At least one website has come forth to publically challange the federal military service claims of Burrows.
A photograph of Ward in 1987 and two in 1988 (Burrows and Rydholm 1992; pp. 107, 53 & 146). Used without permission.
Jack Ward, a retired gravel salesman from Vincennes, IN was Burrows’ early partner in peddling engraved BC rocks at various small Midwestern memorabilia trade-shows, conventions or “arrowhead” swaps (Allison 1994). Ward is blamed for polishing an undetermined number of the rocks with car wax and may have been the commercial source for the earliest BC rocks and even to have provided the bulk of the palm-sized mudstones (the blackish engraved BC rocks most often sold) which now may number in the thousands. In 1984, Ward attended Institute for the Study of Ancient Culture (ISAC) meeting in Columbus, GA to promote his book (Ward 1984). At the same meeting, he introduced to the general diffusionist community the Burrows Cave hoax. Neither his book nor the engraved BC rocks went over well, but he did construct the basis for a future sale to ISAC. Four years later, Ward attended another ISAC meeting and brought along "Col. Russell Burrows." At that meeting, the two began hawking Ward’s 1985 printed account of Burrows fantastic military claims (Ward 1985). Early believers, such as Joseph Mahan, Ph.D. and Cyclone Covey, Ph.D. (Professor emeritus, history; Wake Forest College), didn't question Burrows' military claims and Burrows, himself, encouraged the tall tales. He presented himself as a retired federal officer of the United States armed forces as well as a state-appointed colonel in Civil War era re-enactments. Most of the ISAC attendees in 1984 and 1988 dismissed the military claims as fictive, but a small, unfortunate bunch fell hard into Burrows’ “cave.” The Mau-Mau uprising?
(Burrows and Rydholm 1992; pp. 88, 120, 130, & 141) Texts from The Mystery Cave of Many Faces. Reprinted without permission.
Click individual images for larger text.
In The Mystery Cave of Many Faces (Burrows and Rydholm 1992; p. 88), a book whose inside back cover describes Russ as a colonel in an "organization dedicated to the preservation of history," Virginia Hourigan, motorcycle owner and rider, comments: “He wore a black leather motorcycle jacket and an aura of suppressed energy, but he wasn’t riding a motorcycle. (I have nothing against leather jackets, but I never wear one.)” Later (Burrows and Rydholm 1992; p. 120), Hourigan also wrote: “Meanwhile he warned me about the lawlessness of the ‘Little Egypt’ area we were going to, where people shoot first and ask questions later, and I noticed he wore a camouflage suit and had two pistols with him.”
It seems adventure and violence also figure into a possible uniform fetish for Burrows. Concerning a claimed meeting with “some of the staff of the Egyptian Antiquities Department,” Russ wrote (Burrows and Rydholm 1992; p. 130): “As I got off the eggbeater, I took note of a couple of men standing off to the side, watching everything that was going on with great interest. I was very suspicious. I walked up to one of them and asked who in the hell he was. He pulled an I.D. and said, ‘Department of Justice.’ He did not say FBI, he said, ‘Department of Justice.’ As near as I can determine, if he was what he claimed to be, that is exactly what he should have said. Just about then the helicopter took off and as I turned around to watch it go, I noticed that it had no numbers or any other means if identification; it was simply small, and blue and white. Just think about this for a minute or two. Here we were buzzing around in an aircraft with no numbers on it, everyone on the thing is armed to the teeth and every move being watched by the Justice Department, no less. And what do these federal boys say or do? Nothing!” Out of respect, the “federal boys” would have addressed a retired Army colonel by federal officer rank. They would not have acknowledged a retired federal enlisted rank or a state-level officer appointment, however.
Ten of the many 'faces' of Russll E. Burrows. Used without permission.
Another adventure with violence is later claimed by Russ (Burrows and Rydholm 1992; p. 141): “By Christ, they had spotted me at the same time and were in the act of bringing up, into firing position, Uzi machine pistols. All five of them. I went down in a hurry, just as they began firing. Those guys were standing in a line abreast, almost shoulder to shoulder, and putting out one Godawful amount of firepower. There was no question in my mind that they were shooting to kill because they were cutting the brush at waist- to head-high. Now, I am no hero but I did have a weapon. And while they were close to the limit of accurate shooting with an Uzi, my Colt .45 was more accurate because I had replaced the barrel and collet with a set of match quality. In other words, I can shoot the fuzz of off a fly with that pistol. I got off three rounds of return fire, beginning on their right flank and moving in toward their center, before they got down out of sight. I figured that while they were down and collecting their thoughts, I had better get the hell out of there as fast as I could pick’em up and lay’em down.” Burrows is claimed to have received “1 Bronze Star, 2 Silver stars, 1 Legion of Merit, 2 Purple Hearts (Ward 1985).” Russ, humbly denies he’s a hero, but does toss off a good shoot-em-up yarn, though the narrative could have benefitted from a single wound or a dead body or two. Uniform fetish and guns? I guess normal attire and a generally non-violent lifestyle are not important to liars.
Claims of training in “military sciences” are made on a genealogical website called “Russell E. Burrows, Calhoun County, WV.”
Cave Discoverer-Author Has West Virginia Roots
A Descendant of Early Calhoun Burrows Family
"THE MYSTERY CAVE"
Russell E. Burrows
Retired army officer, Fellow of Institute for Study of American Cultures (ISAAC) [sic] and Midwest Epigraphic Society (MES)
James P. Scherz, PhD
Professor emeritus, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison
...Burrows was trained in military sciences and practical matters of how to get things done, and when he was met with rejection and charges of fraud, it was clear that something was wrong with the academic authorities who masquerade under the umbrella of science but rejected basic data that did not conform with their preconceived beliefs.
The autographed book is available for $23 from: Russ Burrows, 117 Chestnut Street, Windsor, Colorado 80550.
Did Russ attend a weekend seminar sponsored by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism to help volunteers with their staged battles? Does that qualify as trained in military sciences?
One of the more well known examples of a uniform and officer fetish with rank misrepresentation is that of pulp sci-fi writer and founder of the Scientology cult, L. Ron Hubbard. Sometime shortly after he organized the cult, he began yachting in international waters dressed as a naval admiral. It’s said that Hubbard went from a Lieutenant and small vessel commander who mistakenly bombed Mexico during WWII to later creating “a paramilitary version of the Navy, wearing a white uniform with ribbons and gold braid, and appointing himself commodore over thousands of devotees (Mallia 1998).” Oh, and Hubbard claimed lots of medals to go along with his “Commodore” rank (between Captain and Admiral). Come out of the cave, Russ and stop lying about your military record!
Lt. Hubbard in 1943, Hubbard as "The Commodore," and Tom Cruise demanding "Come Out of the Cave, Russ!"
It’s easy to slip into silliness when discussing a military uniform fetish. Caricatures and cartoons come to mind, but there’s seriousness here as well.
Burrows of Ft. Collins, CO (via Olney, IL), May of Colfax, WI & Collin of Colfax, WI (via Chicago, IL) as South Park, CO characters.
Though presented as a good ol’ boy Christian, and hurrying past Russ' support of the tin-foil hat wearing Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and belief in aliens (Heck 2005), he’s been associated with members of the Mormon cult for some time. The notorious misdemeanors of early Mormon money-digging and treasure-divining opportunistically advanced to felonious counterfeiting and bank-fraud, and the land-claims, violent mobs, ordered destruction, and murders (and other actionable crimes too numerous to list here), are joined and sealed together, occupying a unique place in the history of America’s legal system as one which clearly demonstrates the failure of in-state only arrest warrants. A Mormon cult vision of some old guy in Utah revealing himself as King of Israel, Zion, and America (which entails the overthrowing of our government), is an anti-American fantasy and wrong. Yet, America defends the right to be wrong, at least to a ceremonial degree.
[Note: Before the anti-federal scoundrel and The Book of Mormon forger, Joe Smith, had his escapades with Illinois militias, there was Jefferson’s Vice President Aaron Burr’s dueling murder of Alexander Hamilton. Also, though debate continues concerning the possibility of Old World peoples in the Americas before Columbus (other than the Norse and Basque), few serious researchers entertain the impossible confluence of claims in The Book of Mormon (horses, camels, wheat, silk, advanced metallurgy, etc.). See: Williams 1991, Bloom 1992, Brooks 1994 and Oestreicher 2002. Oestreicher’s description of The Book of Mormon as an “American forgery,” on p. 84, is honest and refreshing.]
Russ claims to have first encountered Wayne May, a member of the Mormon cult, through James P. Scherz, Ph.D. (Professor emeritus, engineering; University of Wisconsin-Madison). Way began publishing his magazine, The Ancient American, in 1992, coeval with the publishing and marketing of The Mystery Cave of Many Faces. Since the second issue, and every second or third issue since, an article or letter about Burrows Cave has continued to appear in The Ancient American.
After several years of wasting paper, a new batch of engraved BC rocks began to appear in the pages of The Ancient American, engravings which followed the Soper-Savage fraudulent artifacts in theme and style, and were immediately marketed as proof of The Book of Mormon. Crude engravings of Jesus as Christ seem to fascinate the Mormon cult (Goble and May 2002).
Mormon cult ("Pioneer Scientology") underwear and costume fetish photographs. Used without permission.
The various branches of the American military struggled for years to explain to young recruits of the Mormon cult that their underwear had to be regulation and couldn’t have cool little Masonic embroidery on it. Former San Francisco 49er quarterback, Steve Young, didn’t wear his holy shorts during football games and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah-R) has said he wouldn’t dream of showing up for work without his sacred undergarment.
We, and each
of us, covenant
and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the
Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign,
or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our bodies be cut assunder
the midst and all our bowels gush out.
The Sign of the Nail;a handshake inspired by Masonry.
God, angels, and these witnesses, in the name of the Son that I will
reveal the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood or Sign of the
with its accompanying name and sign.
Collin in Nazi uniform, Sturmarbeiteilung (Brownshirt) and as a leather co-pilot. Image of Collin as a witch in robes unavailable.
Foul flock together, playing dress-up for history and hate, and hypothesizing a uniform character between the behaviorally challenged mentioned in this aside seems necessary. How else to understand it?
"I filed a complaint in 1995 with the Illinois Attorney General arguing the violations of Illinois law under “815 IL CS 505/1 Consumer Fraud and deceptive business practices” and “Article 17 5/17-1 Deceptive practices. Act 295/1a Untrue, misleading or deceptive advertising.” The matter went round and round for a few months between the Attorney General’s office, the Governor, and Sen. Paul Simon, whom I had contacted for help. For some reason still not clear to me, a case-worker attached the name of Collin to my complaint against Burrows (“Re: Frank Collin File No: CF95 05 0418") and eventually I got a letter saying the Attorney General was passing and recommended I go after Burrows privately in a Chicago civil court." (from Falling Into Burrows' Cave).
That the Illinois Attorney General's office associates Burrows with Collin has continued to bother me mightily. Almost as much as Russ' claimed federal military service and rank achievements. And I'm still upset with the revisionist claims about the engraved BC rocks, too! Come out of the cave, Russ!
Bibliography and Sources
Abbreviations:AA -- The Ancient American Magazine
MES Journal -- Midwestern Epigraphic [Society] Journal
Allison, Harold. 1994. Personal communication between Allison and Richard Flavin, July, 1994. Allison, a noted Indiana photographer and journalist, as well as being a long time friend of Jack Ward, expressed his revulsion at being asked by Burrows and Ward at an arrowhead convention, to "lie" and claim he'd seen "Burrows' Cave," so "Burrows and Ward could sell their inscribed stones to a young man in a suit."
Bloom, Harold. 1992. The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Brooks, John L. 1994. The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Burrows, Russell and Fred Rydholm. 1992. The Mystery Cave of Many Faces. Marquette, MI: Superior Heartland, Inc.
Burrows, Russell E. 1995a. “Ancient Pirate Treasure In Illinois?,” AA, Vol. 2, No 11, October/November. pp. 40 and 41.
Burrows, Russell E. 1995b. “Letters to the Editor: Burrows Of Burrows Cave,” AA, Vol. 2, No 11, October/November, p. 43.
Burrows, (Brigadier General) Russell E. 1995c. “The Black Hawk War,” MES Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 63-65.
Burrows, (General) Russell E. 1996. “Illinois State & Federal Laws and Burrows Cave,” AA, Vol. 3, No. 13, p. 19.
Flavin, R. D. 1997. "The Many Faces of Frank Collin," The Greenwich Village Gazette (http://www.nycny.com), Feb. 21. Updated in 1999 as "Frank Collin: From neo-Nazi to Hyper-Diffusionist and Witch," Flavin's Corner (http://www.flavinscorner.com/collin.htm).
Goble, Edwin G. and Wayne N. May. 2002. This Land: Zarahemia and the Nephite Nation. Colfax, WI: Ancient American Archaeology Foundation. A critical review is available in PDF format here.
Heck, Jeff. 2005. “Colonel Russ Burrows and the Cave of Doom” and “Another Russ Talk.” Transcriptions of 1991 videos. From 'Ancient Lost Treasures/Burrows Cave' ezboard forum; Nov. 19, 2005; reprinted with permission online at "Burrows and UFOs." Minor corrections made by RDF for clarity (spelling, capitalization, etc.).
Joseph, Frank. 1997. "Re: Posting number 2 for this date," AA online forum, June 23; "All I can share with our readers at this point is that it is far greater than I ever imagined and just could not believe my eyes. Of course, a special issue is presently being prepared to disclose what will probably be the final, most significant evidence establishing the site's credibility beyond question." Available on request.
Joseph, Frank. 2003. The Lost Treasure of King Juba: The Evidence of Africans in America before Columbus, Rochester, VT: Bear & Co./Inner Traditions.
Mallia, Joseph. 1998. "INSIDE THE 'CHURCH'" OF SCIENTOLOGY: Judge found Hubbard lied about achievements;" The Boston Herald. Reprinted online here.
Martin, T. B. and Richard Flavin. 1995. “Twisting History: The lies of The Ancient American,” News From Indian Country, Vol. 9, No. 2, Late January, pp. 6 and 7; reprinted in Ethnic Newswatch, January 1995.
Oestreicher, David M. 2002. Roots of the Walam Olum: Constantine Samuel Rafinesque and the Intellectual Heritage of the Early Nineteenth Century in New Perspectives on the Origins of Americanist Archaeology. Edited by David L. Browman and Stephen Williams. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press.
Ward, John A. 1984. Ancient Archives Among The Cornstalks. Vincennes, IN: MRD Associates.
Ward, John A. 1985. A Study of the Origin of Artifacts Found in a Cave by Russell Burrows in a Remote Area of lllinois. Vincennes, IN: Privately printed; later expanded version c.1990.
Williams, Stephen. 1991. Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. See the chapter "Archaeology and Religion: where angels fear to tread," pp. 159-168, for Williams' rejection of the antiquity claimed for The Book of Mormon. For an online copy of Williams' handout of his "Fantastic Archaeology" course at Harvard, click here.
A few weeks ago I took down a photograph of Burrows wearing a baggy uniform and a lot of chest salad (as well as a cropped version which only showed his face), as Burrows told me that it wasn’t him and he’s had a mustache for many years. And, admitting poor record keeping on my part, I couldn’t remember where I’d copied the photograph from. I sent out a request to someone I thought would know the answer and also did a brief online search. The request was answered with a claim that the photograph originated from the files of Jack Ward. The online search lead me to the “B Hall of Shame” web-site which contains a post from Burrows, who writes: “The photograph of me wearing a uniform is some how reversed but, I have never seen that photograph before. It is not, I repeat, NOT a U.S.Army [sic] uniform. It is one of the uniforms worn by the re-activated Illinois State Militia.” ...Not exactly a denial, so the photograph returns. Also, alleged documents about Burrows’ military record appear on the web-site elicited a few guffaws from me. If the documents are not forgeries, it would seem Burrows spent less than two years in the U. S. Air Force, remained stateside during the Korean War (or Police Action, if you will), took a six month course to be an A & E mechanic at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas and was discharged honorably, as he received a National Defense Service Medal for not shooting himself during wartime. My father served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War (and was awarded a Bronze Star) and in 1970 we were stationed at Sheppard AFB for six months before his last assignment in Panama (and, no, my dad wasn’t a mechanic – he was in the Signal Corps). We’ll likely never know all the story of Burrows and his claims, but maybe that’s for the best. Some things should disappear into the wasteland of the past never to be heard from again...
Return to Come Out of the Cave, Russ!