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BURR, William L.

1st Biography of William L. BURR
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 415-416

William BURR is now living a retired life at his palatial residence situated on the corner of Winnebago and Chestnut Streets, Rockford [Winnebago County, IL].  He was born in 1831, on his father's farm in Mohickan Township, Wayne County, now Ashland County, OH, and is a son of James BURR, a native of VT.  His grandfather, Asel BURR, was also a native of VT, in which he spent his entire life, a farmer and miller living near BURR's Pond, which still bears his name.  James BURR grew to manhood upon the farm and served his country during the latter part of the War of 1812.  He married Miss Polly SMITH, who was also born and reared in VT.  Her parents were natives of New England, and at an early day emigrated to OH, locating on a farm in Wayne County.  After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. BURR also became residents of Wayne County, and spent the remainder of their lives upon a farm in that locality.  They were quiet, unassuming people, highly respected by all who knew them.  Mr. BURR died at the age of 84 years, and his wife was called to her final rest when 68 years of age.  In their family were three sons and three daughters who are yet living, the sisters being residents of IA, while the brothers of Mr. BURR make their homes in WI.

When a young man of 17 years, our subject started out in life for hmself and sought the West as the scene of his future labors.  He boarded a steamer at Cleveland, OH, bound for Milwaukee, the last vessel to make the trip during that season.  They encountered very severe weather and barely escaped destruction.  Captain APPLEBEE, who was in command and had been in charge of the vessel for 20 years, remarked that he had never known such a storm, but at length the dangers were passed and harbor was reached in safety.  Mr. BURR began learning the jeweler's trade, at which he worked in Milwaukee, Waukegan, and Chicago.  He was also a resident of Beaver Dam [Dodge County, WI], for 12 years, engaging in the jewelry business at that place, after which he removed to Winona, MN, where the succeeding 21 years of his life were passed.  He spent eight years in that city as a jeweler, doing a good business, and then removing to a farm nearby, he devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits for some time.  By the exercise of good business principles, industry, perseverance and good management, he succeeded in acquiring a handsome competence, and at length determined to live a retired life, so, securing a home in Rockford, he came to this city in 1888, and for the past four years has lived at his pleasant home on Winnebago Street.

The lady who bears the name of Mrs. BURR was in her maidenhood Miss Lusetta I. McCLURE, and was born and reared in Wooster, Wayne County, OH, where her marriage was celebrated.   Her parents there resided for many years and her mother still makes her home in Wooster.  The father, Jonathan McCLURE, died at the age of 60 years.  He was a hardware merchant.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. BURR have been born 10 children:  W. J., the eldest, is member of the firm of BURR Brothers, the most extensive and successful grocery men of Rockford, located at No. 121 South Main Street and No. 405 East State Street.  He married Helen WELLS [WILLS in the bio that follows], of Rockford.  Mary G. [Mary Nettie in the second bio] is the wife of Theodore BAKER, a furniture dealer of Winona, MN; Charles D., who married Grace SWITS [SWITZ in the following bio], is a member of the firm of BURR Brothers; Frank R. is also connected with that firm; Mattie F. is at home; Edwin L. and Addison M. are both salesmen in their brothers' store; Fred [whose name does not appear in the following bio] is now [p 416] bookkeeper for BURR Brothers; Lee H. and Jennie M. are still under the parental roof.  Mrs. BURR and her children are members of the Second Congregational Church of Rockford.  Mr. BURR is a Republican, as are all of his sons who have attained to man's estate.  As before state, he is living a retired life, and is regarded as one of the leading citizens of Rockford, and the respect of the entire community is tendered him.

2nd Biography of William L. BURR
Past and Present of the City of Rockford & Winnebago County, IL, C. A. Church.   Chicago: Clarke, 1905, p 560

William L. BURR, of Rockford, is a native of Wayne County, OH, born in 1831, his parents being James and Polly (SMITH) BURR.  His father was a native of VT, and owned a farm there, also conducting a saw mill.  Following the death of his wife, he removed to IA, and he passed away at Cedar Falls, IA.  In the family were nine children, of whom four are yet living.

W. L. BURR, of this review, remained a resident of OH until 15 years of age, when he supplemented his early educational advantages by study in a school at Milwaukee, WI.   He had continued his education for but a brief period there, however, when he put aside his textbooks and began learning the jeweler's trade, which he completed in Waukegan, IL.  He then went to Chicago, where he worked for ten months, at the end of which time he embarked in business in connection with his brother at Beaver Dam [Dodge County], WI, where they remained for 12 years, enjoying a good patronage and becoming leading and successful merchants of that city.  On selling out there, Mr. BURR removed to Winona, MN, where he was connected with merchandizing interests for 10 years, when he traded his stock of goods for 500 acres of land near the city and turned his attention to farming.  After carrying on agricultural pursuits for several years in that locality he removed to Rockford and here established his sons in business in the store adjoining the Chick House.  He has not been active in mercantile life since, save for the assistance which he has rendered to his sons, and now he is living in well-earned ease, the fruits of his former toil making life pleasant for him.

Mr. BURR was married to Miss Lucetta J. McCLURE, a native of OH, and they became the parents of 10 children, of whom eight are still living.  William J., who is engaged in the grocery business in Rockford, married Miss Ellen WILLS, and with her one son they reside on National Avenue.  Charles D., a grocer residing at Burr Heights, married Miss Grace SWITZ, and has one son.  Frank R., likewise connected with the grocery trade, and now living on Haskell Avenue, is married and has two children, a son and daughter.  Addison, who is engaged in the sporting goods business, and lives on Second Street, Rockford, is married and has one daughter.  Edwin, who is also a merchant dealing in sporting goods, and living on Chestnut Street, is married and has two sons.  Lee, engaged in the grocery business, is at home with his father.  Mary Nettie is the wife of Theodore BAKER, who is engaged in the stock business and mining, and they have one daughter.  Jennie is the wife of N. D. TAYLOR, who resides at 522 Fisher Avenue, Rockford, and manages the grocery business on the east side for the firm of BURR Brothers.  Martha became the wife of Charles McGLASHEN, and left one daughter.

The firm of BURR Brothers owns three stores in Rockford and carry a full line of groceries.  Their business is now very extensive and important, constituting one of the most prominent commercial concerns of the city, and employment is furnished to 60 men.   From a small store they have built up a mammoth trade.  The father gave to his sons $6,000 and with this as the nucleus of their business they have developed an enterprise whose annual trade is represented by a very extensive figure.  After some years the father sold his interest to his sons, but he now owns two large farms, one including a half section of land, and the other an entire section of very valuable land in KS.  He also owns a fine home where he resides at No. 526 Chestnut Street, Rockford.

Mr. BURR was reared in the faith of the Whig party, and in early manhood became a stanch advocate of republican principles, having since given his support to the party organization, but without desire for office as a reward for his fealty.  His wife is a member of the Congregational church.  In a review of his record we note the manifestation of strong and forceful business elements, keen perception, ready adaptability and close application.  All these have combined to make him a very successful man and the family has long been a prominent one in Rockford, because of the genuine personal worth of the father and his sons, the latter now ranking with the best business men of the city.

Submitted by Cathy Kubly.