Robert and Charles Burgess

Transcribed by Nancy Piper
Taken From History of La Salle County, Illinois : Chicago Interstate Publishing Co., 1886 Page 517-518 - Osage Township, LaSalle County, Illinois

Burgess Brothers of Wenona, are among the best and most favorably known of  many importers and breeders of draft horses in Illinois, and have made a remarkable success in business during their few years experience in this  State. They have a large and well arranged barn, fitted up with box stalls  and all the modern conveniences and appliances. Their first importation,  nine thoroughbred English Shire horses was in 1881. The same year  twenty-three were imported, and since that time Robert E. Burgess has made  two trips to England, importing sixty to ninety horses annually. Many of  these were of the stock of the old "Honest Abe" , probably the most  celebrated of all England's draft horses. Since 1883, they have brought over  forty thoroughbred mares, thirty of which belong to the firm. Beaconsfield,  one of their horses, took the first and greand sweepstakes premiums at the  Illinois State Fair in 1884, the only instance of the kind where one horse  carried off both awards. "Ben Lomond" and "Tel el Kebir" were at the same  time and place awarded first and second prizes respectively in the  three-year-old class. About a clean sweep of all rewards has been taken by  the herd of Burgess brothers during the past six years at the Wenona Union Fair. About thirty percent of the importations of this firm are of the famous Cleveland Bay stock of carriage and driving horses, and at present they have at their stables some noble specimens of this justly prized breed.

Robert E. Burgess is a native of Devonshire, England, born in 1854. He was reared on a stock farm and inherited a love for, and a phenomenal judgement of horses from his father, a noted breeder in England. He died when Robert was about nineteen years old, leaving him only a few pounds of sterling. With this he started for America, arriving in Ottawa, Ill., with only 3 pounds in his pocket. He began working for James Follet at $25 per month and during three years did not draw a penny of his wages and still had part of his original money. In 1876 he began buying and trading in horses at Lostant, Ill., buying horses by the car-load for parties in Chicago, and traveling through Illinois from Bloomington to Freeport for them.

His brother, Charles Burgess, then joined him in his business when the present firm was formed and in 1878 they removed to Wenona where they each have a pleasant home. Robert Burgess was married to Miss Evaline Wilcox of Sandwich, Ill. They have two children - Charles A., born May 12, 1877 and Albertina, born June 11, 1880, both in Wenona. Charles Burgess, younger member of the firm of Burgess Brothers, was born in England in 1856. He received a good education, taking a course in engineering. He came to America in 1874 and was for two years engineer in a paper-mill at Ottawa. He is now Secretary of the American Shire Horse Association, and City Clerk of Wenona. His wife is Miss Kate, duaghter of Dr. K. E. Rich of Wenona. Two children have been born to them but died early in life.

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