STEPHEN DOUGLAS BURDGE
Before California was admitted to the Union Stephen Douglas Burdge arrived on the Pacific coast, located in this state in August, 1850. In September the territorial government gave way to statehood, and throughout the following half century our subject has borne his part in promoting the interests and welfare of California. He was born in New York, in the town of Milton, on the Hudson, in Ulster County, September 15, 1811, and is therefore eighty-nine years of age at the time of this writing. He is of French-Scotch ancestry and is descended from good old Revolutionary stock, his grandfather, Stephen Douglas, having served with the colonial army in the war for independence, after which he located in Steuben County, New York, where he spent his remaining days. Richard Burdge was born in Monmouth, New York, and married Lydia Douglas, an aunt of the Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois. By this marriage there were seven children, but the subject of this review is now the only survivor of the family. The father died in 1854, at the age of seventy-six years, and the mother survived him, attaining the age of eight-four years. They were members of the Methodist church and people of the highest respectability.
Mr. Burdge was educated in his native state and crossed the plains to California in 1850 with an ox team. He bought his outfit in St. Louis, Missouri, and came in company with the Holly family. The emigrants were visited by sickness and Mr. Holly died with the cholera at Big Blue River. The horses were stampeded and part of the company followed them for two days and succeeded in recapturing them. Mr. Burdge escaped the cholera, and though he experienced many of the hardships of the long journey across the plains he arrived safely at John’s Crossing on Bear River. There he engaged in mining with excellent success, taking out gold to the value of nine thousand dollars within four months. The following year he returned to the east by way of the water route and brought his wife and three children, two daughters and a son, across the plains to California.
He had been married in 1844 to Miss Melissa Hurt, a native of Missouri. While they were en route to California she was stricken with the cholera, but recovered and all of the family safely reached their destination. They located on a farm a short distance northeast of the site of Lincoln, and there for some years Mr. Burdge engaged in the stock business, his efforts being attended with prosperity. He had as high as five hundred head of stock, mostly cattle, which he sold in the different mining camps, receiving good prices, and thus augmenting his income. After five years spent in that business he went to the mines in eastern Oregon, taking with him a company of men and in 1862 he continued his mining operations at Canyon City, where he was located three years. In all his undertakings he was prosperous and gradually his capital increased, as the result of his earnest efforts. He went with pack animals by way of the Humboldt and down the Owyhee River. He brought back with him about one thousand dollars and since then has been engaged in various business pursuits. He owned some of the land on which Lincoln has been built and aided in erecting the first house in the town. In 1885 he built the Burdge Hotel and was a most popular landlord for some years, but he is now living retired, having through diligence and enterprise in former years acquired a capital that now enables him to put aside the more arduous duties of life. He and his estimable wife reside in the pleasant home with their daughter, Mrs. Sanders, and their granddaughter and her husband, Mr. Sartain. While they were living on the ranch in Placer County a daughter was born to them, Lydia, who is now the wife of Mr. Berger who resides in Lincoln.
Mr. Burdge had been previously married in New York, in 1835, to Miss Maria Merritt. She died in 1837, leaving him with a little daughter, Catherine, who is now the wife of Nathaniel Ackerman, of New York City. It is therefore sixty-five years since he was first married, while his present faithful wife has lived with him for fifty-six years. They have passed their golden wedding day and are highly esteemed among the honored pioneers of California.
Mr. Burdge was made a Freemason in St. Clairville, Belmont County, Ohio, in 1839, and received the Royal Arch degrees in Fayette, Missouri, in 1845. He has been warden of the blue lodge and king of his chapter, and is now one of the oldest Masons of the state. He cast his first presidential vote for Andrew Jackson and his last for William McKinley in 1900. In politics he has always been independent; voting for the man whom he considers best qualified for office and for the principles which he believes will best promote the public good. He has been a man of great physical endurance, of strong mentality, earnest purpose and honorable life, and though he has never sought public notice and has lived in a quiet and unobtrusive manner he has nevertheless commanded the respect of all, for such qualities cannot be hid.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.