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Alexander Burr


Due to the new popular hit musical Hamilton, the story of Aaron Burr shooting Alexander Hamilton has been refreshed in our collective memory. What is far less know, is that with 40 years of judicial service, there was an Alexander Burr … no connection whatever to the shooting … who was the second-longest serving judge in North Dakota.

Burr was born on February 25th, 1871 in Perthshire, Scotland. Two years later, he moved with his parents to North America and lived in Trinidad and Ontario before coming to the Dakota Territories in 1883. In 1885, they moved to Bottineau County, and this is where Burr grew to adulthood while attending schools in Canada. He went on to teach school for five terms before he pursued higher education at the University of Michigan, graduating with a bachelor and master’s degree in law. That same year he was admitted to the North Dakota Bar and elected as State’s Attorney of Bottineau County. He resigned two years later and moved to Grand Forks where he ran an exclusive law business before returning to Bottineau County in June of 1899.

In 1900 and 1902 he was reelected as State’s Attorney and in 1908 he was elected as judge for the Ninth Judicial District. He stayed in this position until 1919. In 1926, at 55 years old, he was appointed to the North Dakota Supreme Court by Governor Sorlie. In 1928, he was elected to his first full term. Burr proved to be popular and was reelected in 1934 and once again in 1942. He continued to serve until old age began catch up to him, and he finally retired on this date in 1949, ending almost 23 years of service on the court. A little over a year later, he passed away – on February 8, 1951. His dedication to the law helped make the state of North Dakota what it is today.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas