Marshall County

BURT, George

George BURT, editor and proprietor of the Henry Republican, has been a resident of Marshall county since 1846, and since 1865 has been connected with the paper, and from 1869 has been its sole proprietor. He is a native of Connecticut, born in Hartford, March 29, 1836, and is a son of George and Jerusha (SPENCER) BURT, the former a native of New York and the latter of Hartford, Connecticut.

George BURT, Sr., in early life removed form new York to Hartford, Connecticut, where he formed the acquaintance of Miss Jerusha SPENCER, and they were married in that city. To them were born five children, as follows: John Spencer, editor and publisher of the Times, of Henry; George, our subject; Elizabeth, deceased; Clarence E., a farmer near Henry; Cornelia, wife of George N. LOSEE, of Lake City, Iowa.

In his native state and in Connecticut the father worked at his trade of tanner and currier, and was considered a master workman. Dull times and the possibilities of a great west caused him to turn his face in that direction, and in 1846, accompanied by his family, he came to Marshall county and located on a farm near Henry, and to the close of his life successfully followed the occupation of a farmer, save for one winter, when he went to Chicago and worked at his trade. For years he was well known to almost every citizen of the county. Politically a democrat, but never an office-seeker, he wielded a great influence in the councils of his party. Religiously, he was a Baptist, and for many years was clerk of the church at Henry. In all matters pertaining to the welfare of the church he took a lively interest, and in his life endeavored to exemplify the teachings of the blessed Savior. He died in the faith and the blessed assurance of a life beyond the grave, in April, 1888. His good wife, who was reared a Congregationalist, but who usually worshiped with him at the Baptist church, preceded him to the other world some eight years, dying in 1880.

The subject of this sketch was but ten years of age when he came with his parents to Marshall county. The succeeding seven years of his life were spent upon his father’s farm assisting in the necessary work of developing a productive farm from the wild state in which it was found. As the opportunity was afforded him he attended the pioneer schools and obtained a limited education. The desire to learn the printer’s trade took possession of him, however, and in 1853 he went to Ottawa, Ill., and entered the office of the Free Trader, but the proprietor selling out before the expiration of his apprenticeship, he finished his trade at La Salle, Illinois.

After completing his trade, the roving spirit that has seemed to possess nearly every printer form the early days of the art to the present time took possession of him, and for the nest eight or ten years he held cases in offices in Peoria, Illinois; Syracuse and Rochester, New York; New York city; Hartford, Connecticut; Springfield, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. In the spring of 1865 he returned to Henry, and in September following purchased an interest in the Henry Republican, and four years later became sole proprietor and editor.

While working in Springfield, Massachusetts, Mr. BURT became acquainted with Mrs. Cornelia Anna BLAKE, nee BURT, and one year after becoming interested in the Republican, on September 21, 1866, they were united in marriage, at Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Although her maiden name was BURT, she was not a relative of our subject. Immediately after marriage Mr. BURT brought his young bride to his western home, and for nearly thirty years they lived secure in each other’s love. But death claimed the wife and mother, and on the 31st of May, 1895, she was called to her heavenly home, leaving the husband and two children to mourn her loss. Anna J., the eldest child, in June, 1896, married Frank JENKS, a merchant of Savanna, Illinois,  and now resides in that city. George A., the youngest, yet remains at home and assists in the office of the Republican. One child died in 1871. Mrs. BURT was reared in the Episcopalian faith, but on coming to Henry her views underwent a change and she embraced those of Swedenborg and became a member of the Swedenborgian church of this place. She was a woman of lovely disposition, a true Christian, a loving wife and mother, and her memory is cherished not alone by the husband and children, but innumerable friends who knew her in this life. One of the finest monuments in the cemetery at Henry has been placed over her grave by her loved companion, who thus attests his love and devotion to her who walked with him along life’s journey so many years, and who was to him truly a helpmeet.

Mr. BURT is a thorough out-and-out republican, while his father and the entire family were and are democrats. He attained his majority just after the birth of the republican party. For some years prior to this the slavery question was prominently before the people. The south was determined to force slavery upon some of the new territories, notwithstanding the Missouri compromise, and the people of the north were awakened to the fact that unless they resisted the encroachments of the slave power they would be at its mercy. The new York Tribune, edited by Horace Greeley, was the great organ of the anti-slavery people, and the reading of this paper had its influence upon our subject. With all the ardor of youth he entered into the fight, and being naturally a lover of freedom and equal rights of every man, whether white or black, he struck telling blows at the monster evil of slavery. In 1860 he advocated the election of Lincoln, and again in 1864. In 1865, as state, he purchased an interest in the Republican, and for thirty-one years, as its editor, has advocated the principles of the republican party and has done much in moulding public opinion.

When Mr. BURT took possession of the Republican it was a weak, country paper with limited circulation. He has improved it in every respect, editorially and mechanically, and to-day it is one of the best country papers in the state, with a circulation of sixteen hundred copies. It is a six column quarto, all home print, and is a credit to the city and county in which it is printed. As editor, Mr. BURT is alive to every interest calculated to build up the city of Henry and surrounding country, and no enterprise worthy of encouragement but has his hearty support. The office is well equipped, with a steam power press, two jobbers, paper cutter, newspaper folder, and book and job type of latest style. He is continually adding novelties in type, and can and does compete with offices in larger cities.

Religiously, Mr. BURT is a Swedenborgian, and is active in the work of the church at Henry. He is a firm and consistent believer in the doctrines promulgated by that man of God, Emanuel Swedenborg, and has the courage of his convictions. Fraternally, he is a Mason and has attained the rank of Knight Templar.

Extracted May 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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