Henry Burlingim, 1883-1885, 1889-1890 

By Shane Gordon

 Henry Burlingim was one of the better mayors to ever have been elected to office in the City of Monmouth. The times were crucial for Monmouth to have great men at prominent position because of the rapid growth the city was experiencing during the late 1800’s. Burlingim was an entrepreneur. He owned his own dry goods store.[1] He was active in politics throughout his life. Burlingim was a member of the 1860 Republican nominating committee for Abraham Lincoln[2] and represented Ogle County in north-central Illinois, when he lived in the town of Rochelle.

Henry Burlingim was born in Caldwell, Warren County, New York, on November 2, 1823,[3] to Humphrey and Louisa Burlingim.[4] His father was born in New York State, while his mother was born in Ireland.[5]

Henry married Nancy Cinderella Braiden[6] on March 24, 1846,[7] in Castile, Wyoming Co, New York.[8] The couple had two children in New York. The first was a son whom they named Walton E. Burlingim. The second child was a daughter whom they named Marian S. Burlingim.

     In 1850 Henry lived in Gainesville, Wyoming County, New York.

By 1860 Henry had packed the family up and moved west to Illinois. He first settled in Rochelle, Ogle County, Illinois. During this time he was very active in politics as proven by his involvement with the Republican Party, Henry represented Ogle County along with Joshua Wright, Solon Cummings, Zenas Applington, A. J. Mix, Francis A. McNeil, Spooner Ruggles, and Frederick G. Petrie.[9] These stalwart men served as the backbone of his candidacy, but too many of them are totally forgotten today.[10]

While in Rochelle Henry and Nancy had another daughter, May 9, 1861, Geogianna Julia Burlingim.[11]

Henry then moved the family to Chicago for a short time, where he engaged in business.[12] In 1869 he moved his family to Monmouth, Illinois, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

When he moved to Monmouth he engaged in mercantile pursuits.[13] Burlingim had his own dry goods store located at 410 E. Locust St. in Monmouth,[14] selling many different types of goods as documented in the City Directory for 1880.

Burlingim stayed active in politics during his time in Monmouth. He was mayor of the city from 1883-1885 and from 1889-1890.

According to the county history the city was growing rapidly when Henry first moved his family to Monmouth. Ivory Quinby opened the first bank in town, the First National Bank, which was a private institution. In 1862 the First National Bank was established. In 1872 C. Jones & Co. opened their private bank, which was subsequently merged into the Monmouth National Bank. Later the Second National Bank was established. With one exception these banks have all been successful, and have had a good standing in the financial world.[15]

The city had money to spend on high class materials: “In the suburbs of Monmouth are located Doctor Vanhoorebeke’s stables, which were established over 20 years ago. Dr. Vanhoorebeke was one of the first to introduce imported stock into this state and in the line of business he has crossed the ocean 98 times.”[16]

The city was well and ably represented in the medical line by ten different doctors.[17] This is an important part of any town as long as the doctors are qualified in the field.

The city of Monmouth had a very good Opera House, erected by Mr. Schultz in 1875, at a cost of about $50,000, including the store houses below. It was a favorite place of amusement for the people of the town.[18]

There were many fine business blocks in the city, as well as a number of beautiful residences. Some of the church buildings were very creditable, and even an ornament to the place. The public buildings, however, with the exception of the jail were about as inferior as any in the state.[19]

Monmouth was beautifully situated and well laid out, with a square or plaza in the center. The streets are in regular parallel lines and were ornamented with handsome shade trees.[20] Works such as these were no doubt started by the able mayors of Monmouth. The town was dotted over with elegant residences and comfortable homes. The people, as a class, were intelligent and industrious. The population of Monmouth in 1886 was about 5,500.[21]

Upon the completion of the C.B. &Q. Railroad through Monmouth, in 1855, the town had started growing rapidly and steadily. With the completion of the railroad some very important manufactories were established in Monmouth. The addition of the railroad is what really sent Monmouth into such exponential growth. Towns that did not have the railroad stop in their town usually did not make it very long. The fact that Monmouth had a good railhead for both commercial endeavors and passenger trains meant that it would survive for many generations to come.

The Weir Plow Company was incorporated in 1869 after W.S. Weir contemplated a better way to cultivate the prairie soil than with the old plows. In 1869, when the company was incorporated, it had a capital stock of $25,000. By 1886 the company had grown so much that its capital stock increased to around $500,000.[22] This demonstrated that Monmouth was a booming town in the latter part of the 19th century.

The Pattee Plow Company also aided to the growth of Monmouth. It was established in 1875 by the Pattee brothers along with I.P. Pillsbury. By 1881 the company had a capital stock of around $10,000.[23]

The Monmouth Mining and Manufacturing Company was established in 1872 by A.M. Black and J.M. White. This company incorporated in 1872 with a capital stock of $350,000.[24]

The Reimar Lahann cigar factory put out over 1.5 million cigars every year and employed thirty to forty people.

By 1886, one year after Henry Burlingim left the office of mayor the town and the businesses in the town were growing exponentially. The wealth of the time can be attributed to good city policies that allowed for the growth of productive business, which in turn means that the city will grow around these businesses. A strong economy is the staple for any productive town.

As of 1886 the public schools were divided into four different wards. The total enrollment of the schools as of 1886 was 998 with a high of 280 in the East Ward.[25] The buildings for the schools, however, were in bad shape: “The school buildings are inferior, old, with large cracks in the walls, and are not, some of them at least, very safe. Take them altogether for a city with the wealth of Monmouth; they are not at all creditable. Some, if they are not torn down, they will be tumbling down, burying beneath their ruins innocent children.”[26] This certainly does not speak very highly of the Honorable Mayor Henry Burlingim as far as education went

The press in Monmouth consisted of three newspapers. The Monmouth Atlas was a Republican paper and was the oldest. The Monmouth Review was the Democratic paper. The Monmouth Weekly Gazette, which became a daily newspaper in 1883, was independent politically.[27]

The Monmouth Atlas was the oldest paper in Monmouth. Established by C.K. Smith and was first issued on October 30, 1846, weekly on Saturdays. In September 1884, the paper moved to a daily newspaper. As of 1886 it had a circulation base of around 1,600 copies.[28] It was the largest paper in the county in 1886.

The Monmouth Review came to existence December 28, 1855, founded by A. H. Swain. This paper was truly Democratic in its principles and as of 1886 had a circulation of around 1,200.[29]

The Monmouth Weekly Gazette was founded in 1876, by G. G. McCosh, and was issued weekly on Wednesdays in its infancy. In February of 1883 it became a daily publication and its name changed to the Evening Gazette. The Gazette was Independent in politics and had a circulation of around 1,100.[30]

The city government of Monmouth was well formed. The Municipal Code of Monmouth was well laid out by Burlingim’s predecessor Ithamar Pillsbury. Under Article II of the publication, “the chief executive officer of the city shall be a mayor, who shall be a citizen of the United States, a qualified elector, reside within the city limit, and hold his office for two years and until his successor is elected and qualified. Whenever a vacancy shall happen in the office of the mayor, when the unexpired term shall be one year or over from the date when the vacancy occurs, it shall be filled by an election. If the vacancy is less than one year, the city council shall elect one of its number to act as mayor, who shall posses all the rights and powers of the mayor until the next annual election, and until his successor is elected and qualified. During a temporary absence or disability of the mayor, the city council shall elect one of its number to act as mayor pro tem., who, during such absence or disability, shall possess the powers of mayor. If the mayor, at any time during the term of his office, shall remove from the limits of the city, his office shall thereby become vacant. The mayor shall preside at all meetings of the city council, but shall not vote except in case of a tie, when he shall give the casting vote. The mayor shall have power to remove any officer appointed by him, on any formal charge, whenever he shall be of the opinion that the interests of the city demand such removal, but he shall report the reasons for such removal to the council at a meeting to be held not less than five days nor more than ten days after such removal; and if the mayor shall fail, or refuse to file with the city clerk a statement of the reasons for such removal, or if the council by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of all its members authorized by law to be elected, by yeas and nays, to be entered upon its record, disapprove of such removal, such officer shall thereupon become restored to the office from which he was removed; but he shall give new bonds and take a new oath of office. No officer shall be removed a second time for the same offense. He may exercise, within the city limits, the powers conferred upon sheriffs, to suppress disorder and keep the peace. He may release any person imprisoned for a violation of any city ordinance, and shall report such release, with the cause thereof, to the council at its first session thereafter. He shall perform all such duties as are or may be prescribed by law or by city ordinances, and shall take care that the laws and ordinances are faithfully executed. He shall have the power at all times to examine and inspect the books, records and papers of any agent, employee or officer of the city. The mayor shall, annually and from time to time, give the council information relative to the affairs of the city, and shall recommend for their consideration such measures as he can deem expedient. He shall have power, when necessary, to call every male inhabitant of the city over the age of 18 years, to aid in enforcing the laws and ordinances, and to call out the militia to aid in suppressing riots and other disorderly conduct, or carrying into effect any law or ordinance, subject to the authority of the governor as commander-in-chief of the militia. In case the mayor or any other municipal officer shall at any time be guilty of a palpable omission of duty, or shall willfully and corruptly be guilty of oppression, malconduct or misfeasance in the discharged of the duties of his office, he shall be liable to indictment in any court of competent jurisdiction, and, on conviction, shall be fined in a sum not exceeding $1,000; and the court in which such conviction shall be had shall enter an order removing such officer from office. He may appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the city council, immediately after such change of organization, one or more competent persons to prepare and submit to the city council, for their adoption or rejection, an ordinance in revision of the ordinances of such city, and for the government of such city; the compensation of such reviser or revisers to be determined and fixed by the city council and paid out of the treasury.”[31]

Henry Burlingim accomplished many things for the city during his time in office. On April 30, 1883, the city council passed a liquor license law in the town. The sellers would need a license even for medicinal and sacramental purposes. The fine for the offense was between $25 and $100.[32]

On June 7, 1883, Burlingim’s council made it illegal to ring the fire bells unless there was an emergency. The fine was $2-10.

The annual appropriations bill was passed on June, 29 1883. The salary fund was $2,800, police $2,100, fire $3,200, gas $2,700, street department $7,000, interest fund $450, health department $250, and the general fund was $6,250. The total money needed for the year was $24,750. This money was raised in taxes on the citizens.

On August 6, 1883 the first leash law for dogs was passed. According to the City Ordinances of Monmouth this was passed to prevent the spread of hydrophobia. Also, on this date Burlingim passed a law requiring the railroads to keep their crossings at a grade of one foot for every eighteen feet out and to also maintain any culverts along the tracks. Requiring the railroads to keep up the land along the tracks meant that the city did not have to pay for maintenance.

On November 15, 1883, the council passed a law requiring all billiard rooms and shooting galleries to be closed at eleven p.m. and not to reopen until seven of the next morning. This law is very similar to ordinances of today requiring bars to close at twelve a.m. on weeknights and two a.m. on weekends.

On February 26, 1884, the council passed an ordinance for fire exists in public places. For a building that could accommodate 500-700 people there had to be at least two exits on opposite sides of the building. For buildings that could accommodate 700 or more there needed to be at least three exits. This became part of the building code for new buildings. Older buildings needed to be inspected to make sure they were up to par.

On September 1, 1884, Burlingim accomplished one of his greatest tasks while he was mayor, passing an ordinance for the building of sidewalks in the town of Monmouth.[33] This was worked into the budget through the street department. The initial plan only included a few main roadways, but in years to come it would include most of Monmouth.

Henry Burlingim died a wealthy man. “He had been confined to his bed for two weeks, becoming rapidly weaker.”[34] He finally succumbed to rheumatism and a breaking of the nervous system, which was probably Alzheimers. His wife stayed in Monmouth until two months before her death, when she went to Lincoln, Nebraska, to stay with her son. Nancy would pass away three and a half years after Henry, 1901. When Henry died he left his estate evenly divided between his wife and three children.[35] It would have been nice to had a summary from a newspaper, but large sections of the paper are missing from this time period.



[1] City Directory, City of Monmouth 1880, Warren County Public Library.

[2] Wayne C. Temple, “Delegates to the Illinois state republican nominating convention in 1860,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, [Fall 1999, p. 28].

[3] http://genforum.genealogy.com/burlingame/messages/137.html

[4] http://genforum.genealogy.com/burlingham/messages/20.html

[5] City Census of Monmouth 1880, Warren County Public Library

[6] http://genforum.genealogy.com/burlingham/messages/20.html

[7] http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?henry,burlingim::burlingame::127.html

[8] http://genforum.genealogy.com/burlingham/messages/20.html

[9] Temple, Wayne C., “Delegates to the Illinois state republican nominating convention in 1860,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Fall 1999

[10] Temple, “Delegates to the Illinois state republican nominating convention in 1860,”

[11] http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?henry,burlingim::burlingame::127.html

[12] Obituary of Henry Burlingim, Warren County Public Library.

[13] Obituary of Henry Burlingim.

[14] City Directory, City of Monmouth 1880, Warren County Public Library

[15] Portrait and Biographical Album of Warren County, Illinois (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1886), p.760.

[16]  Ibid., p. 761

[17]  Ibid.

[18]  Ibid.

[19]  Ibid.

[20]  Ibid.

[21]  Ibid.

[22]  Ibid.

[23]  Ibid., p. 762.

[24]  Ibid.

[25]  Ibid.

[26]  Ibid., p. 763.

[27]  Ibid.

[28]  Ibid.

[29]  Ibid,. p. 764.

[30]  Ibid.

[31] Municipal Code of Monmouth, Article II, clauses 15-29, 1883, Monmouth College Library.

[32] City Ordinances of Monmouth, 1858-1891, Monmouth City Hall.

[33] City Ordinances of Monmouth.

[34] Obituary of Henry Burlingim, Warren County Public Library.

[35] Will of Henry Burlingim, Warren County Courthouse.