Transcribed by Teresa Kesterke from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


Loren B. Burnham, who is engaged in the real estate and loan business, and was the organizer of the Republican Club of Burlington, was born in Paola, Kans., Feb. 17, 1866, and is descended from New England ancestry. The history of the family at even a more remote period is ascertainable, for it is definitely known that there were four brothers of the name of Burnham who came from England to the New World in the seventeenth century, established their homes in this country, and founded families whose descendants are now found in various sections of the United States. The great-great-grandfather of Loren B. Burnham was the owner of a vessel which sailed from New England in the Revolutionary War as a privateer, and was never heard of again, nor was any news ever received from the officers or the members of the crew, so that it has never been definitely known whether the vessel was destroyed by the enemy or was sunk in a gale.

James Burnham, the great-grandfather of our subject, was a gifted man, a graduate of Yale, an artist, and a scholar. He painted a picture of Yale College, which is now in possession of Loren B. Burnham. He resided in New Ipswich, N. H., and devoted his attention to the supervision of his agricultural interests. There his death occurred. He left thirteen children, of whom John A. Burnham, the grandfather of our subject, was the eldest. He became a machinist by trade, and for many years was in charge of a large cotton mill at Manchester, N. H. He gained a good business start in the East and afterward went to Delaware, Ohio, where he established a foundry, and in its conduct became wealthy, but later he lost most of his fortune through endorsing notes for his friends. Subsequently he established a linseed oil mill at Delaware, Ohio, and prospering in its conduct, continued in its operation from 1850 until the latter years of his life. His birth occurred in 1769, and he passed away in Delaware, Ohio, in 1880, at the age of eighty-one years. His last wife was seventy-five years of age at the time of her death. He was three times married, his first wife being Mahitable Jenness, who died at the birth of her fourth child, who also died at that time. She left three children — John J., Emily, and James F. By his second marriage, to Miss Palmer, he had one child. By his third wife there are two daughters, Kate and Ada. Kate became the wife of Alfred Arthur, founder of the Cleveland School of Music, one of the leading educational institutions of this character in the United States. During the Civil War he enlisted as a musician in the same regiment of which William McKinley was a member, and they became close personal friends, a connection that was afterward maintained. He was also a personal friend of Marcus A. Hanna.

James F. Burnham, father of Loren B. Burnham, was born in New Ipswich, N. H., Feb. 23, 1833. He pursued a common-school education, but was a great reader from his early life, and became an exceptionally well-informed man. He was a pattern-maker by trade, and when nineteen years of age he came to Iowa, making the trip westward by way of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, reaching Burlington on the day on which Franklin Pierce was elected president of the United States. Here he secured employment in the Hendrie Foundry, and after two weeks’ work his ability won recognition in promotion to the position of foreman of the pattern shops. About a year later he became ill with typhoid fever, and when he was able to travel, he returned to Ohio. During his visit in that State he was married to Miss Kate Stailey, a daughter of Christian and Maria Stailey, natives of Pennsylvania, descended from German ancestors. After their marriage Mr. Burnham went with his bride to Kansas, and located on a claim near Paola. His wife's people also emigrated to that locality at the same time. Mr. Burnham acted as a scout for General Kearney and other military commanders operating from Fort Scott, and was then in great personal danger at the time of the border troubles. He saw service until the close of the war, and was a notable figure in western military history at that time. He was also proprietor of a furniture store at Paola, Kans., during the period of the war, and after the cessation of hostilities he removed to Leavenworth, Kans., where he took charge of the pattern department for Wilson, Estes & Fairchild, founders. He remained there for seven years. Later John F. Burnham and Frank B. Jagger purchased some of the machinery from the old oil mill in Ohio, and built the first oil mill in Iowa at Burlington, in 1856; and in 1874 James F. Burnham returned from Kansas to this State, and took charge of the oil mill as superintendent. There he remained until 1880, when there occurred a great change in the ownership of the mill, and the firm style of J. R. Burnham & Company was assumed. At that time F. B. Jagger, Marcus Simpson, and James F. Burnham built a linseed oil mill at Third and Elm Streets, and conducted it until 1887, when it was sold to the National Linseed Oil Company, and went into the trusts, Mr. Burnham accepting the superintendency of the manufacturing department, thus having supervision over fifty-six mills in the United States. He continued with the National Linseed Oil Company until 1897, when he resigned, and removed to a large stock farm west of Burlington, on which he remained until his death on the 27th of July, 1901. His widow still survives him.

Mr. Burnham was president of the first park board of Burlington, being elected to that position by popular suffrage, and acting in that capacity for two years. In politics he was a Republican. He was reared in the faith of the Episcopal church, and was once junior warden in that church in Burlington. He was noted for his charity, being a man of kindly spirit and generosity; and yet, though his benevolences were many, his gifts were made so unostentatiously that often none knew thereof save the recipient of his bounty. He was one of the organizers of the first Odd Fellows' lodge in Leavenworth, Kans., and was ever faithful to the teachings of the organization, which inculcates the principles of brotherly kindness and mutual helpfulness. In his family were two children: Charles F., a resident of Montrose, Iowa; and Loren B.

Now a well-known factor in the business and political circles of Burlington, Loren B. Burnham attended the public schools of the city in his early boyhood, was afterward graduated from Elliott's Business College, and subsequently continued his studies in the Baptist University. Entering business life he spent one year with the Drake Hardware Company, of Burlington, and in 1884 he entered the service of the National Linseed Oil Company, at Burlington, being connected therewith until 1889 as bookkeeper. In that year he removed to Groton, S. Dak., where he was manager of a mill for the National Linseed Oil Company until November, 1891, when he came to Burlington, and here again represented the same company until 1898, when he removed to his farm, residing thereon for three years. He then sold that property, and began operating in real estate and loans in Burlington, and to this field of business activity now directs his energies, having a good clientage. He has thoroughly informed himself concerning realty values, and is thus enabled to negotiate important realty transfers, and to place loans advantageously to those interested as well as to himself..

On Aug. 20, 1889, Mr. Burnham was married to Miss Mary E. Rickards, a daughter of Phillip H. and Rebecca A. (Perry) Rickards. Mr. and Mrs. Burnham have one child, Ada A. Politically, Mr. Burnham is a Republican, prominent in the work of the party; and he was one of the organizers of the Republican Club of Burlington, in 1904, which was founded upon lines making it a permanent organization. He has been its secretary, and now is the vice-president. Fraternally, he is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Woodmen of the World, and the Modern Woodmen of America. Much of his life has been passed in Burlington, and his fellow-citizens are familiar with his enviable record.


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