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List of Notes and Resources               James B. Burch Family Page

Notes on James B. Burch

From "Portrait and Biographical Album of Fayette County, Iowa", (1891).


          REV. JAMES B. BURCH, deceased, an honored pioneer of Jefferson Township, was born in Surrey County, N. C., October 17, 1801, and removed with his parents to Green County, Ind., in 1820. He was a teacher and farmer, and in early life became a minister of the Baptist Church. In February, 1822, he was married in Indiana to Miss Sarah H. Walden, and in the year 1848 removed to Marshall County, Ill., where for four years he made his home. The year 1852 witnessed his emigration to Iowa. He located on Government land, since the property of G. A. Oelwein, a part of which now constitutes the present city of that name. He taught the first school in Jefferson Township, conducted the first religious exercises held in the community, and with many other important facts concerning the early history of the county his name is inseparably connected.
          Mr. and Mrs. Burch were blessed with a large family of children, eight sons and five daughters, and with the exception of one son and one daughter all are yet living. The wife and mother died in January, 1885. The children are as follows: Elizabeth wedded Enoch Shelton, and after his death Michael Schneider, and both are now deceased; Ann is the wife of M. Arthur, a resident of Dexter County, Iowa; Mary is the wife of E. Shipp, and is living in Fort Collins, Col.; Lewis M., whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work, was thrice married and now resides in Pleasant Valley Township; William D. married Ellen Campbell and is living in Cedar County, Neb.; Nicholas S., a resident of Ellis County, Kan., married Louisa Garrett, their union being the first celebrated in Jefferson Township. George married Eliza Garrett and lives in Washington; John married Kizzie Campbell and afterward Rose Gill, and his home is now in Chickasaw County, Iowa; Martha is the wife of a Mr. Nichols, her former husband being H. Butler, of Portland, Ore.; Joseph W. married Jennie Bolton and resides in Creston, Minn.; Rachel is the wife of C. R. Brown, a leading farmer of Jefferson Township; Jonathan was joined in wedlock with Marcia Keis, and their home is in Lincoln County, Kan.; and James H. died in Indiana September 5, 1846. The mother of this family died in Jefferson Township in December, 1855, and was buried in the cemetery that her husband had donated to the people of the town the year previous. In June, 1856, the Rev. Mr. Burch was again married, his second wife being Mrs. Mary A. Chance, a widow. She survives her husband and still resides in Jefferson Township.
          In politics the Rev. Mr. Burch was a Democrat. He was an open-handed, generous entertainer of the flood of land seekers and settlers who were at that time truing to find homes in the new State of Iowa. The nearest mill was at Waterloo, which was built some little time after Mr. Burch entered his land, and the nearest market was Dubuque. The bill of fare in the cabin of the pioneer was not very sumptuous but it was palatable and wholesome, and the guests, who were numerous, were always welcome, and were entertained free of charge. At times the demand for shelter was so great that the beds, which were spread on the floor, left no standing room when the last one was made up. The staple articles of food in the winter time consisted of corn bread and venison, while at times coffee was made from parched corn or browned cornmeal. All were blessed with good appetites and sickness was of rare occurrence. Mr. Burch was peculiarly generous, and was so liberal in aid of the wants of others that he failed to acquire wealth as he might have done had he been of an covetous disposition. He died September 24, 1886, at the age of eighty-five years, respected by all and mourned by a large circle of relatives and friends.

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