Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

JOSEPH E. BURTLE - The prosperity of any community, town or city, depends upon its commercial activity, its industrial interests and its trade relations, and the real upbuilders of a town are those who stand at the head of the leading enterprises. It is a noticeable fact in America that the young men are controlling important business affairs. It does not seem necessary that years and experience should be theirs before they are capable of managing large interests, for some of the most successful and energetic business men are those who have not yet reached the prime of life. A representative of this class is Joseph E. Burtle, who belongs to one of the oldest pioneer families of Sangamon county. He was born in Ball township, February 23, 1864, and is now the president of the Springfield Bridge and Iron Company. His father, John T. Burtle, was born in Ball township, in 1833, a grandson of William Burtle, whose birth occurred near Montgomery Court House, in Maryland on the 1st of July, 1780. During his boyhood days his parents removed to Washington county, Kentucky, and after arriving at years of maturity he was married in that state, in 1805, to Miss Sarah Ogden, who was born in St. Marys county, Maryland, in 1786. After her father's death the widowed mother had removed with her children to the Blue Grass state. William and Sarah Burtle became the parents of nine children. Joseph wedded Mrs. Maria Miller, nee Gatton, in Sangamon county, Illinois, and both died here. John was married in Kentucky to Mathilda Simpson, by whom he had two children, of whom one died in infancy. The other daughter was married and removed to Texas. John Burtle died in Ball township, Sangamon county, after which his widow married and removed to Missouri, where her death occurred. James, the third member of the Burtle family, was born May 25, 1811, in Kentucky, and was married in this county to Elizabeth Gatton, by whom he had six children, John T., the father of our subject, being the eldest, William O., who is the only one now living, resides in Glenarm, Illinois. He wedded Mary M. Speak and they have six children, Maria, Oscar E., Mary M., Fanny E., Gertrude and Charles. Sarah E. became the wife of John Simpson, but she and their only child are now deceased. Josephus died in his twenty-fifth year. Mary A. died in her nineteenth year. Thomas, the fourth member of the family of William and Sarah Burtle, was born in August, 1815, and married Louisa Simpson, by whom he had four children. James H. married Sarah E. Gatton, who had six children and died in 1873. John T. married Elizabeth M. Ball and had three children. Mary A. became the wife of Joseph H. Berry and had five children. Eliza married John A. White and had five children. Mrs. Louisa Burtle, the mother of these children died in 1875. Ellen, the fifth member of the family of William and Sarah Burtle, died at the age of fourteen years. Mary, the sixth child, was married in 1834 to Josephus Gatton and had five children. Benjamin the seventh child, married Monica Gatton and had six children. William, the eighth of the family, was born in August, 1822, and in 1826 was brought to Sangamon county by his parents. In 1856 he married Mrs. Elisabeth A. Simpson, nee White, who by her former marriage had one child, Jerome Simpson. By the second marriage she had two children, Ida F., now deceased, and Charles E. William Burtle, Jr., was a school teacher and a prominent and influential citizen of Sangamon county. He served as justice of the peace for about twenty-five years, was treasurer and secretary of Ball township and was a member of the board of supervisors. In 1874 he was president of the Old Settlers Society. In his later years he engaged in mercantile pursuits in Auburn, Illinois. Zachariah, the ninth member of the family of William and Sarah Burtle, married Elizabeth J. Harper and they had five children. William Burtle, Sr., the great-grandfather, died July 26, 1860, and his wife Sarah passed away February 11, 1868. Their remains were interred near St. Bernard's church. When they came to Sangamon county they were accompanied by his father, Benjamin Burtle, who, however, remained only about two years and then returned to Kentucky, where he died. The religious faith of the family is that of the Catholic church. It was in October, 1826, that the great-grandparents came to Ball township and entered land, making substantial improvements there for a permanent home. Not wishing to be deprived of all religious instruction he and James Simpson went to St. Louis in order to have a priest visit this neighborhood and in 1829 Father Dusnaswa came to Sangamon county and held services at the residence of Joseph Logdson. That was the first Catholic service held by a priest in Sangamon county, and services were afterward held at the house of William Burtle, Sr., until in 1849, when St. Barnard's church was erected. There are none of William Burtle's children now living and only one grandson, William D.

John T. Burtle, the father of our subject, was reared on the old home farm in Sangamon county. The original homestead comprised four hundred acres and is still in possession of the family. Patents were issued from the government and are still in possession of representatives of the name. John Burtle was the eldest of the three sons and two daughters in his father's family and was the next to the last one to pass away. All became residents of Sangamon county and here died, and the grandparents are also buried in this county, the family burying-ground being the Sugar Creek cemetery. After arriving at years of maturity John T. Burtle was united in marriage to Miss Eliza J. Simpson, who was born in Christian county in 1841, and they became the parents of eight children, of whom two died in infancy. The mother passed away in 1874 and Mr. Burtle was again married, his second union being with Susan Molohon. There were three children by this marriage, Mildred, Georgetta and Maude, who are living with their mother in Pawnee, Mr. Burtle having passed away on the 29th of September, 1890. Six children of the first marriage reached mature years. James R., the eldest, who owns one hundred and twenty acres of the home place at Glenarm, is married and has eight children; Joseph E., is the second of the family; Emma and Samuel live at the old homestead owned by their father; Anna is the next of the family; and Jerome is the secretary and treasurer of the Springfield Bridge and Iron Company. All of the children were born on the old homestead and attended the Oakridge district school. The sister Anna, a lady of superior culture and intelligence, has pursued courses of study in the Champaign Normal and in Valparaiso, Indiana, and she received the best grade for her work in taking the teacher's examination in Sangamon county. For six years she was assistant principal of the Pawnee high school. The political faith of the family has been that of the Democratic party, but the representatives of the name have never been aspirants for political honors. John T. Burtle, the father of our subject, was a director of the Oakridge school from the time of its organization until his death and he and his family were members of the Catholic church.

On the old home farm Joseph E. Burtle of this review spent the days of his boyhood and youth and like the other members of the family attended the Oakridge school. At the age of seventeen years he put aside his text books and began to master civil engineering. He worked in various parts of the state, making his home, however, in Springfield, and for about ten years devoted his time exclusively to surveying. He has acquired his knowledge of civil engineering through actual experience and he is one of the most capable representatives of the business in this part of Illinois. In 1895 he was joined by his youngest brother Jerome in the organization and incorporation of the Springfield Bridge and Iron Company, at which time he took up his abode in this city. They began as contractors of structural iron work, operating over the state of Illinois, and in 1899 they erected a plant for the manufacture of structural iron. They still carry on their contracting business in connection with the conduct of the foundry and they employ on an average of about forty men throughout the year. Their work is on public buildings and bridges and they put up the iron work on the state arsenal, the north cell-house of the Pontiac State Reformatory, the roof trusses on the state electric light and heating plant of Springfield, and they have done much of the bridge work of Sangamon county. They ship the product of their foundry to all parts of the country and their business has now reached large proportions. They manufacture structural iron and bridge work and their offices and plant are located at the corner of Tenth and Cook streets, where they purchased the ground and erected their buildings. Their plant is equipped with the most modern machinery for facilitating their work and the Springfield Bridge and Iron Company is now well known in business circles.

Mr. Burtle of this review was married in Sangamon county September 8, 1891, to Miss Emma J. Leonard, who was born in Pawnee township in 1866, a daughter of Alfred and E. M. Leonard, the former now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Burtle have two children, Elsie E., born in 1896, and Franklin Tracy, in 1901. Mr. Burtle resides at No. 618 South Walnut street. He has never had any aspirations for political honors, content to devote his energies to his business affairs. A young man, he possesses the enterprising spirit of young men, he possesses the enterprising spirit of the west and he owes his advancement to his energy, business discernment and laudable ambition.

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