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After a continuous residence of thirty-three years in Nemaha County, four of which were with the celebrated First Nebraska Regiment, and eight in the United States Senate, having suffered a sudden loss of health, I found a very pleasant pastime and most genial employment in recalling the early days of Nebraska pioneering.
My first impulse was to utter opinions of men and measures. But remembering how liable we all are to make mistakes, and being fearful of doing injustice, by omission or prejudice, to some of my associates, I determined, as far as possible, to become only the re. corder of their public works and compiler of their sentiments and oratorical gems.
My theme, Forty Years of Nebraska at Home and in Congress, brought into review fifty officials, -eight territorial governors, six delegates in congress, ten state governors, eight United States senators, and eighteen members of the house of representatives. The number required brevity. The one million new-comers and young generation were to be instructed, and the considerate and merciful criticism invoked of the remaining fifty-eight thousand old settlers.
I acknowledge my indebtedness to ex-governor Furnas for the use of his invaluable library, to the Illustrated History of Nebraska, and to the Congressional Globe and Record.
607 Florida Avenue, N. W., Washington, D. C.
May 30, 1894.
Page 21, Note. For Joseph D. Morton read Julius Dewey Morton.
THE TERRITORIAL GOVERNORS.
GOVERNOR FRANCIS BURT.
Aug. 2 to Oct. 18, 1854.
The sad history of Governor Burt of South Carolina, the first governor of Nebraska, is soon written. He was appointed by President Pierce and reached the Territory at the Mission House at Bellevue, now of Sarpy county, on the 7th day of October, 1854, just four months and seven days subsequent to the passage of the act organizing the Territory. Coming there much indisposed, he died on the 18th of the same month of his arrival, having taken the oath of office on the 16th of October, 1854, and closing a two days' term of official life. He has been spoken of as “a man of stern integrity and unblemished character, greatly beloved by those who knew him," and in the peculiar terms of that day, as "an accomplished southern gentle. man."
Governor Francis Burt: Nebr. State Hist. Soc. Pub., sec. series, I., 25-38; first series, I., 93 (biog. from N. Y. Times, Nov. 9, 1854); II., 19. Savage and Bell, Hist. of Omaha, 50. The following genealogy of the Burt family is furnished by Miss Katharine Burt, daughter of Gov. Francis Burt:
MATTHEW BURT [b. before 1732, Mecklinburg, Va.; m., Harwood; after Revolution, moved to Edgefield, S. C.; d., --] had 14 children: Harwood, Matthew, Philip, Edward, John, Francis, William, Robert, Garland, Moody, Susan, Martha, Mary, Ann. FRANCIS BURT [b. about 1774; m. Katharine Miles (dau. of Aquila Miles, and Harriet Giroud who was dau, of Jourdan, dau, of French Huguenot, and who had 8 children: Susan, Rebecca, Katharine, Pamilia, Amelia, Jack, Lois, Aquila); d.,
-] had 10 children: Louis, Matthew, Oswald, Armistead, Francis, Erasmus, Harriet, Eliza, Katharine, Pamilia. FRANCIS BURT [b. Jan. 13, 1807; m., 1831, Georgiana Hall, dau. George Abbott Hall of Charleston (son of Geo. A. Hall and Lois Matthews, sister of Mrs. Thomas Hayward whose husband was signer of Declaration of Independence) and Anne Dawson (b. Oct. 9, 1774; dau, John Dawson and Joanna Mouck; descendant Dr. Henry Woodward; m., 1806)) had six children: Frank (d. 1850), Georgiana (m. Willian H. Dawson, 1854, d. 1882), Harriet (m. D. M. Young, 1868), Armistead (m. Laura Rippeton, 1887), Joanna (m. George Robert, now deceased, 1879), Katharine (b. 1842, lives Macon, Ga.), Mary (m. William A. Johnston, 1871; d. 1879), George Abbott (**Frank'': m. Minnie Nutting, 1881).
The Secretary of the Territory, T. B. Cuming, of Iowa, immediately assumed the duties of acting-governor, and his proclamation, anouncing the sorrowful death, draping the national flags, and appointing an escort, was the first executive utterance.
ACTING-GOVERNOR THOMAS B. CUMING.
The first Territorial Legislature of Nebraska convened January 16, 1855, Acting-Governor Thomas B. Cuming delivering the message. In that document he said:
The first official act within our Territory has been indeed a mournful one, the transmission to a bereaved wife and orphaned children in South Carolina of all that was mortal of your late lamented governor, Francis Burt. In his death you have suffered a severe loss—the loss of a man peculiarly qualified by his public experience and capacity, his private virtues, and his energy and firmness, for the satisfactory and courageous discharge of his official duties.
He spent but a few weeks of suffering among us, and his grave in a far off State is only another tie of union between communities widely severed, who will revert to his memory with fraternal pride, and to his untimely decease with sympathetic sorrow.
There were no unpleasant discriminations to subtract from the universal esteem in which his manly and amiable traits were held by an enlightened people; and the fact that South Carolina has given us one of her distinguished sons, is accompanied upon your record by the expression of your undivided respect and affection.i
The Territory being without a system of civil or criminal law, or corporations, financial institutions, or public works, as railroads, bridges or highways, the foundations were to be laid, and superstructures erected. In the absence of financial resources, appeals were made for congressional aid, in behalf of the Pacific railroad, telegraph and mail facilities, a chain of military posts for emigrant protection, and land donations for all conceivable purposes.
Having hoped for the arrival of Governor Burt's successor up to the meeting of the legislature, and not wishing to pledge
* Council Jou rnal, 1st session, pp. 8-9.