Charles BURGESS, Sr., secretary of the American Shire Horse Association and at one time a most prominent stockman of this portion of Illinois, is now practically living retired, save for the supervision which he gives to his large landed interests. A native of Devonshire, England, he was born [October] November 27, 1854. His parents were William and Jane (ELLICOTT) BURGESS, both natives of England. The father was a farmer and the old home farm is still in possession of the family. Charles BURGESS of this review was educated in that country. He was reared to farm life and left the old homestead on the 15th of April, 1873, when eighteen years of age, having determined to seek his fortune in the new world. Accordingly he bade adieu to home and friends and sailed on the steamship City of Paris from Liverpool on the 17th of April. He landed at New York city after a voyage of eleven days and at once made his way to Ottawa, Illinois, whither his brother, Robert, had preceded him about one year. He remained in Ottawa for about three years, working in a paper factory and thus made his start in the business world. He then removed to Lostant, La Salle county, in 1876, and joined his brother Robert in business, dealing in horses on a small scale. Eventually they removed to Wenona in 1880 and enlarged the scope of their activities, becoming extensive dealers in horses. They also began importing in July, 1882, and were associated in business under the firm style of Burgess Brothers until 1897, when they dissolved partnership, both intending to give up the business entirely. They dealt in English, Scotch and other horses. They imported largely and became well known as breeders and dealers in some of the finest stock that has been brought to America or has been raised in this country. Since 1897 Mr. BURGESS has lived practically retired save that he looks after his large landed interests. He owns five hundred and sixty acres of land in the vicinity of Wenona and also eight hundred acres of fine land in Emmet county, Iowa.
Mr. BURGESS was elected secretary of the American Shire Horse Association at its first meeting held at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Chicago, April 28, 1885, and has been elected at each biennial election since that time and only twice has he had any opposition for the office. This is the only association of the kind in the United States and was organized for the purpose of promoting the interests of the breeders of shire horses.
On the 8th of February, 1883, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. BURGESS and Miss Kate RICH. They have lost two children, one of whom died in infancy and Carrie, who died at the age of nine months, and have two yet living, Lucy E. and Amy Julia. Mr. BURGESS is prominent in the ranks of the republican party in his city and county and has filled the office of city clerk of Wenona for four years. He also served for one term as mayor and his official record is most commendable, having been characterized by a business-like dispatch of the duties of the office. The welfare of both city and county have been promoted by him in his co-operation in many movements for the general good. He has a beautiful home just outside the city limits of Wenona, where he now resides. The years have witnessed his steady progress from the time when he came to the United States. He has never had occasion to regret his determination to seek a home in the new world, for here he has prospered as the result of close application, keen business discrimination and judicious investment and those who know him yield their tribute of admiration and respect for what he has accomplished.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.