I have a guess at what was wrong with George's knee albeit one plucked out of thin air on Google. As early as 1873 references are being made to George's knee pain. He is often off looking for a salve or an ointment and in the end of March 1874, Anna Maria writes
"George's knee is worse two big blisters on his knee so he can't hardly wigle".
So I took the idea that whatever was wrong with George's knee was a) chronic b) would eventually lead to amputation and now I know c) caused blisters.
There is a genetic disease that fits this profile and it's called Dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. Of course this is mostly conjecture but that doesn't make it not true and would explain why he could be fine and working away one day and immobilized the next.
Still, George's knee really wasn't his only problem for proof that he was a drinker continues to mount.
"Ed Pickard, Lewis Grude, Worthy Norton here in the after noon they got purty well set up on Cider just before dark. Hiram Car and Seth Hull com here did not stay long. George and Freem went to the vilage to get some fish an brine for his knee. nobody knows where else they went for they didn't get home till four o'clock in the morning. it may be that they don't know them selves. I don't feel well."
Throughout this year George must have been courting Ella Hodges though not a great deal is made of this. The one thing I could find was on April 1, 1874 Anna Maria wrote:
"George went down street go a saddle com back dressed up and said he was going to Morgs. But I said going to see Ella Hodges".
Well something worked out for him because the last entry Anna Maria makes (and it doesn't look like her handwriting) is:
"George Burns was married the twelfth day of february 1876".
Um, what about Ella Hodges, wasn't she part of the ceremony too? Maybe what happens to them is not so surprising after all.