Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dr. Alfred Mark Burnham

The following is a short biography of Dr. Alfred Burnham that I came across in the Harbor History Museum research and resource room. This is just another fascinating item that you can find when you visit this room on Thursday morning from 10 to noon. The author’s name is not given.

Alfred Mark Burnham
“Alfred M. Burnham was born in 1824 at Pavillion, New York. He received his medical education at the University of Buffalo, graduating in 1852. In 1860, he went to Albert Lea, Minnesota, where he took up a homestead. “Dr. Burnham was the second assistant surgeon to the Minnesota 10th Regiment Volunteers during the Civil War.

Rachel Hord Burnham
“Following his marriage in 1866 to Miss Rachel Hord [editor's note: Rachel was his second wife, his first wife died in Albert Lea], Dr. Burnham went to Fort Steele, Wyoming, where he filled a contract for getting ties for the Union Pacific Railroad. Alfred Bismarck was born there.

“The family returned to Albert Lea where Clarence and Luella were born. Came a severe winter, plagued with diphtheria, and Dr. Burnham went from one distressed home to another. The strain broke his own health and in the spring he was ready to move to California. A traveler from Washington Territory passed through Albert Lea, displaying fruits and berries from the Northwest. Dr. Burnham was so amazed by the stranger’s account of Washington wonders; he boarded his family on a train bound for Tacoma.

They arrived in the Puget Sound area in 1884. Tacoma was their first home and a son Frank was born that year. Dr. Burnham purchased a 160 acre homestead at the head of Gig Harbor Bay later that year and moved his family from Tacoma in a row boat. [Editor's note: In 1886, Burnham purchased land at the head of the bay from pioneer Peter Goldsmith, who first came with Sam Jerisich. The next year, Burnham bought an adjacent twelve acres of land from Jerisich and John Farrague.]

First Burnham home at today's Donkey Creek Park

“Dr. Burnham was the first Gig Harbor doctor and also opened the first general store. He platted his land which became the nucleus for the town of Gig Harbor. He and Mrs. Burnham filed the plat for the original town of Gig Harbor on April 28, 1888. He also surveyed the rights of way for roads to Purdy and Olalla. [Editor's note: The new "City of Gig Harbor" platted by the Burnhams was the same land that the three founding fishermen -- Jerisich, Goldsmith, and Farrague -- had owned in earlier years, encompassing the land from today's Donkey Creek park to the Bogue Viewing Platform. Burnham placed a stone monument marking the two main streets of Front and Harbor, most likely at the corner of today's Harborview and North Harborview. For the first time, Gig Harbor had streets. Two months later, Jerisich, Joseph Dorotich, and John and Josephine Novak platted the town site of Millville, today's "downtown" area.]
“To induce settlement, he offered a free lot to anyone who would build a house providing it was painted white or some other light color.

“Through the influence of Dr. Burnham many settlers from Albert Lea, Minnesota, came to the harbor. The Gig Harbor Mill Company, formed from Albert Lea settlers, erected a sawmill on the west side of the harbor.
The Gig Harbor Mill Company was located
at the foot of today's Rosedale Street.
“He died in Gig Harbor in 1896 at the age of 72.  He is buried in the Gig Harbor Cemetery.”
Burnham store at the head of the bay. In addition to the store,
the building had a community hall for plays and recitals.

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment