Submitted - November 19, 2010
George F. Burckhartt of Burckhartt Fields
There should be a Randolph County Hall of Fame. Other counties within
Boonslick country such as Boone have them. Cooper County has a small
downtown park in Boonville with a full-size statue of Hannah Cole and
several busts of historic persons. Rather than wait for such deliberation
and decision, I shall proceed with my own Randolph County Hall of Fame and
begin with “wise and honest” George Frederick Burckhartt, said to be “one
of the best educated men” of the infant state of Missouri.
Within our local history, the best way to describe the Burckhartt family
is “prominent.” The entire clan is notable. Later you will learn about his
father Christopher Frederick Burckhartt, and George’s son George Hobbs
Burckhartt — both highly laudable in their own right. George H. is worth
at least two future articles.
F. Burckhartt of Rhenish German stock was born Oct. 4, 1782, at Frederick,
Md., the eldest son of Christopher F. — a Revolutionary War hero — and
Elizabeth (Hobbs) Burckhartt. He was baptized into the Lutheran Church.
clan migrated from Maryland to Louisville, Ky., in 1802. There young
George married Ruth Dorsey on Jan. 4, 1803, at Elizabeth. The couple would
have nine children.
During the War of 1812 George, now 29, enlisted in the Kentucky Militia
and served as a major. He fought in the 3rd Regiment under
Brig. Gen. William Henry “Old Tippecanoe” Harrison at the Battle of the
Following the war, he, Ruth and kids moved from Kentucky to the Missouri
Territory. Traveling west on the Ohio by keel boat with slaves and gold,
in 1816 they settled near the soon-to-be organized community of Chariton
(near the present Glasgow) in the newly organized Howard County.
the Lutherans were not established in Missouri until 1839, the family
joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, the denomination in which they
stayed — as did later generations of Burckhartts. Both George and Ruth
were devout Methodists. The Burckhartt name is found in the records of
Huntsville United Methodist Church. When in 1844 the Methodist Episcopal
Church split over slavery and other issues, they became members of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The Burckhartts owned among the largest
populations of slaves in Boonslick country.
George soon entered politics. Known as “an honest man and a man of great
learning,” on Mar. 23, 1818, he became the first justice of the peace for
Chariton. He was a Whig, but, though Boonslick country was strongly
Democratic, this affiliation never affected his political career. The
interests of his constituents always overrode party concerns. One
biography states he “would discharge his whole duty to his country and
Chariton the family moved to the eastern edge of Chariton County, now a
part of Randolph County, where he established a 1400-acre plantation,
Burckhartt Fields. He was among the leading farmers of the period. There
he raised tobacco with the labor of his slaves. His stock consisted of
cattle, horses and swine. His horses were said to be among the finest in
northern Missouri. Burckhartt was fond of racing, and had several
excellent steeds. However, as a good Methodist, racing on the Lord’s Day
Sunday while George and Ruth were away, his neighbors “borrowed” one of
his horses and raced it. On his return he commented, “Well, Ruth, it is
hard for one to preserve his Christian integrity and own race stock when
away from home…”.
Milton, Mo., was organized by him within Burckhartt Fields in 1836.
Burckhartt donated ground for the Methodist Episcopal Church there in
1840. He also donated walnut lumber and himself hew the logs from which
the new preaching house was built. Among the oldest of Missouri Masonic
Lodges is at Milton, but that story must wait.
Within Burckhartt Fields was a stop on the Hannibal-Glasgow Road,
Burckhartt’s Station. This is important in another story, that of the
Trail of Death.
1821 Missouri became a state. Burckhartt was elected to the Missouri House
of Representatives in 1822 for Chariton County, making him the first
elected representative for this area. (Chariton County was separated from
Howard County in 1820. The county at that time included the present
Chariton and Randolph counties.) He was re-elected in 1824 and 1826. He
was returned to the House by the election of 1838, now as the
representative for Randolph County (organized in 1829). He was elected
again in 1840, serving a total five two-year terms in the lower house.
the House he proved a knowledgeable and effective legislator. He was
influential in the early construction and maintenance of Missouri’s roads.
He was chair of the standing (permanent) committee on “the Salines.” He
sat on many significant select committees.
Burckhartt law was enacted in 1822. This statue — and the controversy
concerning it — is worthy of its own article. Read about this later in
About 1854, he moved to the Franklin area from Burckhartt Fields. He
retired from politics in 1858 at the age of 76. As war approached, he
became a Unionist. On Mar. 29, 1864, at 81 years he died at his home in
the third Franklin, the current New Franklin. (The original Franklin had
been obliterated by the meandering wide Missouri. The replacement town
proved prone to flooding, so the citizens finally wised up in 1828 and
built on the bluff instead of the flood plain.) His body was buried on the
grounds of the farm he loved in Randolph County.
1931, his and Ruth’s bodies were moved to the Mount Pleasant Cemetery at
New Franklin. A monument to his many accomplishments and memory was
erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution on the square in
Fayette. In Randolph County not only do we fail to remember and honor
George Frederick Burckhartt, some can’t even spell the name right.
(Burkhart St. in Moberly is named for his son.) George F. Burckhartt lived
here near the community of Milton. Randolph County was his home.
Though Christopher Burckhartt, the pater familias, was never a
Randolph County resident, he does play a role in a local mystery which
involves the Moberly Public Library, a true mystery which may only be
resolved with the help of you readers.
Cutline: George F. Burckhartt / 1782–1864
Cutline: D.A.R. monument to George F. Burckhartt at Fayette, Mo. Credit: