Andrew Burke’s Last Day
Andrew Burke was Born in New York City in 1851, but by age four he was orphaned. He became a child of the Orphan Trains, shipped out west to be given to a farm family -- out west at the time being Indiana!
During the Civil War he served as a drummer boy, enlisting in an Indiana Regiment at the tender age of 12. After the war, he finished his schooling then attended two years at Asbury College. In 1880, Burke, now married, moved with his wife to Casselton in Dakota Territory, where he started out as a general store bookkeeper. He would become a bank cashier and eventually the treasurer for Cass County. His next job, a mere 10 years after arriving with only 65 dollars to his name, was that of Governor for the young state of North Dakota – the state's second governor.
Something must be in the water in Casselton, for he was the first of five governors to claim ties to that town.
Burke’s term last two years. During his tenure, he called a special legislative session to address a problem. The state lacked any law for selecting presidential electors. This meant that North Dakotans couldn't vote for president. The special session rectified the problem and the state's citizens were able to participate in the 1892 election of Grover Cleveland, sending three electors to cast the state's votes, only one of which went for Cleveland as it turned out.
When grasshoppers threatened the state’s wheat crop, Burke supported using state funds, and even his own money, for farmers to battle the pests with arsenic.
On another issue, he had a falling out with the Farmers’ Alliance when he vetoed a bill that would force railroads to lease sites by the tracks for elevators and warehouses. Asking him to veto the bill was Alexander McKenzie, a railroad boss who let Burke use his house as governor, expecting favors in return. The Farmers' Alliance had supported Burke's candidacy in 1890, but the veto contributed to Burke's eroding popularity and he would subsequently lose the next election – to a farmer.
Burke’s last day in office was on this date in 1893. He retired into private life, going to work for the federal land office in New Mexico. He died there in 1918 at the age of 68.
Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura