Biography of Charles F. Burr

The trite saying that “blood will tell” does not depend for its illustration on the achievements of distinguished members of the family so much as upon the sum of the achievements of the rank and file of the family in all generations and amid varying circumstances, few of which are conducive to what the world is pleased to call greatness. There has been one great man in America named Burr and there have been countless representatives of the name in many communities who have performed well their part and added to the sum total of greatness by quiet work where work has been needed and has counted. Such a man was the late Rev. Samuel Prentice Burr and such a citizen is his son, the subject of this sketch, who is more truly a representative American than the Burr whose name is prominent on the printed pages of our early national history. And the Rev. Samuel Prentice Burr and his son Charles F. count for only two of thousands of the family who have made their ranks in the communities in which their lot has been cast, and in doing so have advanced the interest of their fellow citizens.

Judge Charles F. Burr, an early settler and an influential resident of Genesee, Idaho, was born in Momence, Illinois, March 31, 1857, a son of Samuel Prentice and Almira J. (Evans) Burr, and lineal descendant of Rev. Jonathan Burr, who was born in Redgrove, Suffolk, England, in 1604. He came to New England in 1639 and settled in Dorchester, New Hampshire. He died in 1640, aged thirty-seven years. He was the founder of the American family of Burrs. One of his sons was the progenitor of the branch of the family of which Aaron Burr was a member, and another was the ancestor of the family of Burrs of which our subject is a representative.

Laban Burr, the grandfather of the Judge, was born in New Hampshire, and in 1820 located in Ohio. In 1821 he removed to Illinois. The Rev. Samuel Prentice Burr was born in Hingham. New Hampshire, September 8, 1809, and came west with his father’s family. He married Miss Almira J. Evans, a native of Virginia and a daughter of Joshua Evans, who came of one of the old Virginia families and was one of the earliest pioneers in Illinois. He was a Methodist and a circuit-rider of the pioneer days; he spent forty-four years of his life among the pioneers and in the service of the new and struggling churches of Illinois, and his work was crowned with signal and permanent results. After this long experience in Illinois, he continued the work in Nebraska, always busy, always achieving, to the very day of his death, which occurred suddenly, November 28, 1881, in the seventy-fourth year of his age. He had preached the day before, with all his wonted energy and forcefulness. He is remembered as a friendly man with a hand-shake and encouraging word for those in trouble or in doubt, a preacher of sermons sound, vigorous and brilliant, and a tireless worker in the cause to which he gave his life. Living, he was long and widely popular, dead, he will be long and widely mourned. His wife survives him, aged seventy-four years. They had eight children, five of whom are living.

Charles F. Burr, their only son, was educated in the public schools of Illinois and followed agricultural pursuits most of the time until 1876, when he came to the Pacific coast and traveled extensively through California, Oregon and Washington, looking the country over carefully, with a view of changing his location. He came west to stay in 1880 and for a time was in the government employ at the Cascade locks. He then went east and settled up his father’s estate, and in 1888 came to the site of the present thriving town of Genesee. He arrived April 10 and found just two structures to foreshadow the future prosperity of the locality. One of these was a “shack” occupied by Mr. Larrabee, the other was John J. Owens’ little frame hotel. Mr. Herman was erecting a small building for a store. The possibilities of the locality were apparent to Judge Burr and he engaged in the real estate, loan and insurance business and was largely instrumental in advancing the interests of the town. He was of material assistance to its business enterprises, and naturally succeeded in his own undertakings. Besides handling real estate he has erected a number of the good buildings in Genesee, and in addition to his local interests he has valuable mining property in the Pierce City district. With others he owns a rich group of mines there, and all are in various stages of promising development. Judge Burr was one of the incorporators both of the town and city of Genesee and was the first city clerk. He has served as its police judge and justice of the peace, and was its postmaster for four years, through the appointment of President Harrison. He was also one of the founders and the cashier of the Bank of Genesee, and his influence has been exerted to further the public interests in every way. He has always represented a line of the largest and strongest insurance companies and has been instrumental in settling all losses to the entire satisfaction of his patrons.

Judge Burr was married November 30, 1876, to Miss Mary E. Wigg a native of Elgin, Illinois, and their children are as follows: Samuel P., the eldest son, is now serving his country in the Philippine islands as a member of Company D, First Regiment of Idaho Volunteers; Fannie is now the wife of Gilbert C. Crawford; William is first sergeant of Company D, First Regiment of Idaho Volunteers, now in active service in the Philippines; Daniel C, LeRoy, Dora E., Aha and Marie are all at home with their parents.

In his political views the Judge is a stalwart Republican. He has passed all of the chairs in all of the branches of Odd Fellowship and the grand encampment and is now serving his second term as representative to the sovereign grand lodge. He was made a Master Mason in Unity Lodge, No. 32, F. & A. M., and his wife is an influential member of the Congregational church. He has erected and occupies one of the finest residences in the city, and he and his family are held in the highest esteem by a wide and constantly enlarging circle of acquaintances.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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