A Centennial Biographical History of Hancock County, Ohio

Out the depths of his mature wisdom Carlyle wrote, "History is the essence of innumerable biographies." Believing this to be a fact, there is no necessity of advancing any further reason for the compilation of such a work as this, if reliable history is to be the ultimate object.

The section of Ohio embraced by this volume has sustained within its confines men who have been prominent in the history of the State, and even the nation, for a century. The annals teem with the records of strong and noble manhood, and, as Sumner has said, "the true grandeur of nations is in those qualities which constitute the greatness of the individual." The final causes which shape the fortunes of individuals and the destinies of States are often the same. They are usually remote and obscure, and their influence scarcely perceived until manifestly declared by results. That nation is the greatest which produces the greatest and most manly men and faithful women; and the intrinsic safety of a community depends not so much upon methods as upon that normal development from the deep resources of which proceeds all that is precious and permanent in life. But such. a result may not consciously be contemplated by the actors in the great social drama. Pursuing each his personal good by exalted means, they work out as a logical result.

The elements of success in life consist in both innate capacity and determination to excel. Where either is wanting, failure is almost certain in the outcome. The study of a successful life, therefore, serves both as a source of information and as a stimulus and encouragement to those who have the capacity. As an important lesson in this connection we may appropriately quote Longfellow, who said: "We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while we judge others by what they have already done." A faithful personal history is an illustration of the truth of this observation.

In this biographical history the editorial staff, as well as the publishers, have fully realized the magnitude of the task. In the collection of the Material there has been a constant aim to discriminate carefully in regard to the selection of subjects. Those who have been prominent factors in the public, social and industrial development of the county have been given due recognition as far as it has been possible to secure the requisite data. Names worthy of perpetuation here, it is true, have in several instances been omitted, either on account of the apathy of those concerned or the inability of the compilers to secure the information necessary for a symmetrical sketch; but even more pains have been taken to secure accuracy than were promised in the prospectus. Works of this nature, therefore, are more reliable and complete than are the "standard" histories of a country.


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The subject of this sketch has been a familiar figure in Ohio for many years, owing to his prominent connection both with the bench and bar of the state. For over thirty years he was an attorney in active practice at Findlay, and since February 9, 1893, has been a member of the state supreme court, at present holding the position of chief justice of that tribunal. His family is of Swiss origin and it seems that the name was originally written Burkhardt. In 1758 the great-grandparents of our subject emigrated from Switzerland to America, accompanied by their son John, who was at that time an infant about four years old. On the voyage across the ocean the father died of a fatal illness, and his widow after arriving in the United States located at Reading, Pennsylvania. John Burkhardt grew to manhood at that place, and at the beginning of the Revolutionary war became a member of Von Heer's Cavalry, which was organized under a special act of the Continental congress for the purpose of acting as a body guard to Washington. He participated with his command in its subsequent service, and with them shared the horrors of the never to be forgotten winter at Valley Forge. He remained with the army until the surrender of Cornwallis, after which he returned to his home at Reading, where he married a Miss Fox and subsequently removed to Ohio. Locating first in Perry county, near the village of Somerset, he removed later with his family to Sandusky county, settling near Hessville, west of Fremont, where his death occurred in February, 1847. John Burket became the father of eighteen children, among the younger of whom was a son named Solomon, who was born in 1806. He married Mary, daughter of George Brehn, who was a soldier in the war of 181 2, took part in the battles of Fort Meigs and Fallen Timbers, and died in Perry county at the age of ninety-three years. Solomon Burket resided in Perry county until 1838, when he removed to Hancock county, where he engaged in farming and followed that occupation until his death, which occurred March 6, 1847. He had a family of ten children, among whom was included the subject of this sketch.