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Thomas H. Burgess
The gentleman whose name heads this sketch, is known as one of Albuquerque's leading professional men and solid citizens. He was born in Kentucky on the 15th day of October, 1822, of distinguished ancestors, the high characteristics of which he possesses in a marked degree. On the paternal side of the family one of his ancestors was an adherent of King Charles, of England, and he was banished to the Colony of Virginia, where he became active in the offices of the country and his descendants became participants in all of the early wars, down to and including our subject's grandfather, William Burgess, who was a Revolutionary soldier. He lived to be ninety-four years of age and died in Kentucky. He had married a Harden, a lady whose people had all participated in the war for independence. The Doctor's father, Timothy Burgess, was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and he had for his wife Elizabeth Gilbert, a descendant of the French Huguenots, who were for many years residents of the State of Georgia. Her father was Captain Samuel Gilbert, and they were a family of Baptists and Methodists. The father of Dr. Burgess raised a family of five children, our subject being the fourth in order of birth. The senior Burgess followed agricultural pursuits and lived to be ninety years of age, his wife dying when in her eighty-first year.
Several of the sons became Methodist ministers, but our subject inclined to the practice of medicine, and was allowed to follow this bent. He was educated in his native State, in the college at Danville, and received his medical training in the St. Louis Medical College, graduating there in 1854. He commenced the practice of medicine at Benton, Illinois, where he remained until Duquoin, Illinois, became a railroad town. He then removed to that place, where he made his home until 1886, at which time he came to Albuquerque and instituted his drug business.
Dr. Burgess was married in Benton, Illinois, to Miss Jemima Moberly, a lady of Southern ancestry, who was born in that place, her parents being pioneers of southern Illinois. There were born to Dr. and Mrs. Burgess eleven children, six of whom are now living. Grant, who is the eldest son, is a graduate of the Missouri Medical College. Warren J., the youngest son, is now sixteen years of age and is actively engaged in mining and prospecting.
Dr. Burgess has the honor of being one of the founders of the Republican party, and was one of the delegates to the Decatur convention which sent the delegates who nominated Abraham Lincoln for President. He is thoroughly conversant with the early history of the West and was in San Francisco in 1845, when there were only two settlers in that now populous city. He was also at Sutter's Fort and knew the General, and was acting as superintendent of a cattle and stock ranch upon the present location of Stockton when Marshall came to see him, bringing a sample of the gold he had discovered. Dr. Burgess enlisted with the Americans in California, under the "bear flag," and they had effected the capture of the entire north side of the bay when General Fremont arrived. They then joined forces with him and finished the conquest of California. The Doctor relates some decidedly interesting as well as thrilling tales of this war, and describes himself as having been a high private, carrying his own trusty muzzle-loading rifle, and taking part in some rather hard fighting. In recognition of the valiant services thus performed the Government has granted him a pension. After gold was discovered he engaged in mining for some time, returning from California in 1850.
He has always taken an active interest and part in political matters, and when the Civil war was inaugurated he proffered his services to the Government. He was commissioned as Lieutenant-Colonel and Surgeon of the Eighteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He served under General Grant, with whom he was personally intimate, being one of his first admirers and warm friends. At the breaking out of the war southern Illinois was considered half rebel, and when the company had been raised there for the Union army, Dr. Burgess was sent to get it accepted by Governor Yates. Here it was that he first met General Grant and then did not again meet him until they were together at Cairo. Here they became warm friends, and after the war was over and Grant had become General of the United States Army, Dr. Burgess called upon him in Washington. Here he was received with the utmost consideration and kindness by the great warrior, and the memory of this visit is tenderly treasured. Dr. Burgess was also a delegate to the national convention which gave to General Grant his second nomination for President.
Dr. Burgess has always been a man of advanced ideas, a strong and active worker in the Republican party. He has attended its State and national conventions and has ever stood by its measures. In 1869 he was elected a member of the Illinois Legislature in a strongly Democratic district and thus demonstrating that, although a strong partisan, still he had made many warm friends and admirers in the opposition. The life of our subject has been a useful one in more ways than one, and the example he has set can with profit be pointed out to our young men. Dr. Burgess is socially a most affable and agreeable individual, and is contentedly passing the evening of a well-spent life, mainly in his comfortable home in Albuquerque.