Richard Ward Burts was born in Laurens County, S.C., son of Michael and Amanda Grant Burts. He married Cornelia Johnson of Abbeville in 1854 and took up farming in Florida. He served in Company E, Florida cavalry during the American Civil War. His wife and a child died during the war. Burts moved back to South Carolina and married Mrs. Amanda Latimer Acker in 1865. She died in 1891 and he then married Miss Sarah Latimer in 1892.
He was licensed to preach on January 8, 1870, and was ordained at Broadmouth Baptist Church. He was pastor at Fork Shoals (1872); Turkey Creek (1873-1880, 1885-1895); Shady Grove (1880-1885); Union (1873-1896); Dorchester (1879-1880, 1897-1898); Big Creek (1873- ); Broadmouth (1876-1910); and Eureka (1894- ). Burts retired in 1910.