October 31, 2011

Burgess, William and Jane Leet Burgess

Amanda Foster Burgess (widow of Benjamin Burgess who is father of William E. Burgess)
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers Township
(Source: Photo by Jacqueline Klapproth Nelson. Copyright October 2011)

William E. Burgess and Jane Leet Burgess
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers Township
(Source:  Photo by Jacqueline Klapproth Nelson.  Copyright October 2011)


William Everington Burgess
William Everington Burgess is a prominent farmer of Somers Township, residing on Section 8, and a worthy representative of one of the pioneer families of Kenosha County, the history of which would be incomplete without this mention.  Our subject was born in Erie County, New York, May 2, 1830.  The family is of English descent and was probably founded in America in early Colonial days, for the grandfather of our subject was a native of New England.
Benjamin Burgess, father of William, was born in Vermont, and when a young man went to New York.  He was twice married, his second union being with Amanda Foster, a native of the Empire State and a daughter of Alfred Foster, a mechanic and well-known citizen of the community in which he resided.  After a few years' residence in Erie County, New York, Mr. Burgess removed to Oswego County, where he was engaged in the milling business, and manufacture of lumber for a number of years.  Alfred Foster came to Wisconsin in 1835, to make locations for friends, and finally took up his residence in Kenosha County, where he resided until his death.  Benjamin Burgess and his family followed him in 1836.  They started in the month of February with teams and sleighs, and from Michigan continued to journey with wagons, at length arriving in the Town of Southport, now known as Kenosha, on the 9th of March.  He made a location in what is now the Town of Somers, where he took a claim and built a mill engaging in the manufacture of lumber.  The family endured much exposure, suffered from sickness and many privations came upon them during the first year.  They had to live in covered wagons ere their cabin could be built.  As a result of this exposure, Mr. Burgess died after two years, in March, 1837.  His widow then carried on the business and when the land came into market paid for the same.  She reared her family and lived to an advanced age.  She passed away in 1887, when in her eighty-eighth year.  In the family were two sons and two daughters.  Martha is the deceased wife of Charles Ticknor, of Racine; Belinda married Thomas Dow, of Racine; and Cyrus, a sailor on the lakes, met his death by drowning.
William E. Burgess, the eldest of the family, during his boyhood aided his mother in carrying on the farm, and as soon as old enough worked out as a farm hand, his earnings going toward the support of the family.  His educational advantages were necessarily very limited and after he was grown, he spent one year in the Kenosha High School, under Prof. Harvey, afterward Governor.  One of his first ventures was in the milling business, and he engaged in the manufacture of lumber for several years.  In the meantime he was married in Kenosha County, October 17, 1850 to Miss Jane R. Leet, daughter of Charles Leet, a pioneer, who aided in the development upbuilding of Kenosha County.  She was born in Delphi, New York, and during her girlhood, came to Wisconsin in 1837.
When Mr. Burgess relinquished the milling business, he bought one hundred and sixty acres of land on which Somers Station is now located, and in the three succeeding years, placed it under a high state of cultivation.  He then returned to the mill, having charge of that business for two years, after which he bought another farm.  It was operated by Mr. Burgess for two years, and he then sold it and bought an eighty-acre tract of timber land upon which he made his home for a similar period.  Having cleared and improved it, he sold at an advance of $36 on the acre, thus realizing a handsome profit on his investment.  In 1870 he bought the farm which is now his home, fenced it, and has made the well-tilled fields yield him a golden tribute.  This farm comprising two hundred and twenty acres is a valuable one, pleasantly situated about a mile from Somers Station.
In 1872 and 1873 Mr. Burgess traveled for J.I. Case & Co. making sales and showing how to operate machines, where an experienced man was needed for that purpose.   Since that time, he has devoted his energies chiefly to agricultural pursuits.
Since attaining the majority, Mr. Burgess has strenuously upheld the principles of the Republican party and has frequently served as delegate to the county conventions, his opinions being much sought for in the councils of the party.  He has been honored with a number of official positions, having served as Assessor of Somers Township for fifteen consecutive years, was also Town Treasurer, and is not a member of the Board of Supervisors.  These offices have been conferred upon him unsought, and their duties have ever been discharged with promptness and fidelity.  He has also been officially connected with the schools of the community and has done much for the cause of education.
Mrs. Burgess departed this life on the 3d of June 1891.  She was a most estimable lady of noble Christian character, and was an active worker and consistent member of the Presbyterian Church.  She also belonged to the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.  For over forty years she proved herself a true and faithful helpmate to her husband and was a friend to all those in need of the aid which she could bestow.  The family numbered ten children - Mary, wife of Dr. Frank Cogswell, of Oaksdale, Washington; Emma, wife of Charles Buswell, of Lewiston, Minnestoa; Virginia, who keeps house for her father; Charles, who is married and follows farming in the Town of Bristol; Edwin C., who is married and engaged in business in Momence, Illinois; George, who aids in the operation of the home farm; William E., who is engaged in business in Chicago; Hattie, Burdette and Robert, all at home.
Mr. Burgess commenced life a poor boy.  He is both a self-educated and self-made man financially.  By his own labors and enterprise he has accumulated a large and valuable property and has aided his children in obtaining homes.  He is now, practically, living a retired life, his sons having relieved him of the care of the farm.  For more than half a century he has been a resident of Kenosha county, where he is regarded as a valued citizen.  He is a man of unblemished character and sterling worth, social and genial in manner, and his friends throughout the community are many.  At his hospitable home they delight to gather to do him honor and share in the good will and kindly cheer ever extended to the guests of the Burgess household."
(Portrait and Biographical Album of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Lake City Publishing Co., 1892, Chicago).

William E. Burgess
Again the death angel has entered and taken from our midst one of our pioneer citizens.  William E. Burgess, age 73 years, departed this life April 9, 1903 after a long illness from lung trouble.  The deceased was a man who was honored and respected by all who knew him.  In 1836, he with his parents came to Wisconsin.  Oct. 17, 1850 he was united in marriage to Miss Jane Leet.  Eleven children were born to them, of which number ten survive.  Mrs. Frank Cogswell and Charles of Salem; Mrs. Charles Buswell of Winona, Minn; Edward, William and Burdette of Chicago; Mrs. Clayton Rease of Portersville, Cal.; Jennie, George and Robert of Somers.  Mrs. Burgess died June 3, 1891.  The family have the sympathy of the entire community in this their hour of sadness.  The funeral services were held from the Methodist Church Saturday afternoon, conducted by the Rev. Stockham.  Internment at Oakwood Cemetery. (Source:  Racine Daily, April 17, 1903)

Additional information about the Burgess - DeLong family
Horace R. DeLong was born on June 20, 1837 in Utica, New York.  He came to Wisconsin with his parents in 1838.  Horace married Mary Rease, daughter of Peter Rease, on October 13, 1861.  They had 4 children.  The DeLong family settled at Kellogg's Corners in Section 6, of Somers Township, facing County Line Road.  Mary (Rease) DeLong died in Chicago, Illinois on Feb 14, 1927.  She is buried at Graceland Cemetery, Racine, by her son J. Edwin DeLong.  It is not known where or when Horace died.
Children of Horace and Mary:
Carrie DeLong born August 16, 1862 in Mt. Pleasant Township, married William E. Burgess, the son of William E. and Jane Leet Burgess, on December , 1891; died Dec. 8, 1941, buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin.
James Edwin DeLong, buried at Graceland Cemetery, Racine.
Willard DeLong, died June 1870
Alton B. DeLong, buried at Graceland Cemetery, Racine.
(Source:   Mary Ann Culshaw Falk and Sylvania Cemetery Trustees)

William E. Burgess
William E. Burgess, a farmer in Section 8 of Somers Township, was born in Oswego County, New York in 1830.  His father, Benagh Burgess was a native of Vermont who came to what is now Kenosha County in 1836, and engaged in business in a saw-mill located on the Pike River in what is now the Town of Somers, in which business he engaged until his death, in the spring of 1838.  At an early age, William entered the milling business, which he followed up to 1850, when he went to farming, in which he is at present occupied.  Mr. William Burgess has been Assessor of the Town of Somers for the past two years, and held the office of Town Treasurer.  He married in the town of Somers, in 1850, Miss Jane Leet, a native of the State of New York, and a daughter of one of Kenosha County's earliest settlers, Mr. Charles Leet, who died in Somers Feb. 11, 1874.  Mr. William Burgess has ten children living:
Mary A. born August 5, 1851
Martha E., October 30, 1852
Virginia L. March 11, 1855
Charles, March 15, 1857
Cyrus E., August 23, 1859
George F., January 23, 1861
William E., October 29, 1865
Hattie J., March 9, 1868
Burdett H., November 9, 1870
Robert C., May 9, 1873
Della, April 25, 1863 (died June 27, 1863).
Mr. Burgess' mother, Amanda Burgess, formerly Miss Foster, is still living; she was born in the State of New York in 1799; her father, Mr. Alfred Foster, was one of Kenosha's first settlers, having been one of the exploring party who came to Wisconsin in 1835; he built the first saw-mill in what is now Kenosha County.  Mr. Burgess is owner of 247 acres of land.
(Source:  The History of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Chicago, Western Historical Company, 1879)

Della Burgess, infant daughter of Willim E. Burgess
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin

George F. Burgess, son of William E. Burgess
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin

Virginia Burgess, daughter of William E. Burgess
Oakwood Cemetery, Somers, Wisconsin

1877 Partial Map of Somers Township
Section 8
W.E. Burgess parcel

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