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BURT, James. (Schenectady, NY, Feb. 3, 1809--Dubuque, IA, Aug. 7, 1886). MAYOR. Educated at Union College at the age of nineteen, he began the study of law and was admitted to the bar and settled in Franklinville, N.Y. and served in the state legislature. (1) He married and with his wife and family left New York in 1846 settling for a time in Cincinnati before coming to Dubuque in 1848. In 1855 he was one of the first directors of the public school system. (2) In 1865 he was listed as a director of the Dubuque Mutual Life Insurance Company. (3) Burt served two terms as an alderman and held the office of mayor in 1871.
On July 31, 1871, the first water pipe in Iowa was laid between Main and Iowa on Seventh. The great fire at Chicago in October called out a big mass meeting here; a thorough organization for relief was effected through-out the whole county. Mayor Mason, of Chicago, wired here: "Can you send us some bread and cheese for 100,000 people?" The council appropriated $2,500 in relief. By October 23 there had been shipped from Dubuque 471 boxes and barrels, mostly clothing and provisions. (4)
The new waterworks were fully completed in October, 1871, and tested; the capacity of the reservoir was 250,000 gallons; its height above low water was 1291 feet. It was seen that a new reservoir would be necessary and one holding 2,000,000 gallons was planned. It was about this time that steps to build a suitable monument to Julien DUBUQUE were taken; this had been talked of for many years, but nothing definite was done until this time. Funds were raised by subscription, but the monument was not yet erected. (6)
In 1873 Burt was a member of the DUBUQUE HARBOR COMPANY at a time when it was proposing the construction of a large hotel and restaurant near the passenger depot of the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD and the establishment of a stockyard on the lower portions of its property. (7) He was also one of several judges appointed by David S. WILSON to revise and adopt the rules of the court to the new code of the state and to suggest any amendments which they considered needed. (8)
Considered a leading member of the bar, Burt served as an Iowa District judge for eight years. Fluent in several languages, he was often employed as an interpreter in court proceedings. (9)
1. "Dust to Dust," Dubuque Herald, August 8, 1886, p. 5
2. "Dubuque's Public Schools," Dubuque Herald, January 25, 1896, p. 12
3. Advertisement. Dubuque Herald, April 29, 1865, p. 3
4. Oldt, Franklin T. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880 http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/franklin-t-oldt/history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl/page-19-history-of-dubuque-county-iowa-being-a-general-survey-of-dubuque-county-histor-tdl.shtml
7. "Dubuque Harbor Company," The Daily Herald, March 2, 1873, p. 4
8. "Committee on Court Rules," The Daily Herald, December 10, 1873, p. 4