Oscar Burch among 19th century stalwarts
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Oscar Burch was “one of the most substantial citizens of Jefferson City,” according to “The Illustrated Sketch Book and Directory of Jefferson City and Cole County, 1900.”
During the decades following the Civil War, Oscar Burch established himself in the Capital City first as assistant state librarian, and later as a newspaper reporter and editor, city assessor, postmaster and real estate business owner.
Born in New York in 1841, Burch moved west with his family at age 12.
He enlisted in the 19th Iowa Infantry Volunteers Company A at age 20, serving under Union Capt. John Bruce.
Burch was actively engaged in the field at the battle of Prairie Grove, Ark., on Dec. 7, 1862.
And he was at the siege and surrender of Vicksburg, Miss., in July 1863, where he was taken to the notorious Andersonville Camp as a prisoner of war until July 1864.
He was a member of an expedition against Mobile, Ala., in East Pascagoula in January 1865 and in the siege and capture of the Spanish Fort and the adjacent works in April of that same year.
After being mustered out in July 1865 in Iowa, Burch was appointed assistant state librarian.
In March of 1866, he married Mary Hart, and they had five children: Oscar E., Nelson C., Edson, Edith and Asenath.
Later, he was made deputy under his brother, Nelson Burch, who was clerk of the Supreme Court under the administration of Gov. Thomas Fletcher.
Then, he opened a real estate and insurance business with two of his sons.
Burch was associate editor of the “State Journal,” which became the first daily paper regularly published in Jefferson City, and a reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.
He was elected city assessor for one term and served as postmaster under presidents Rutherford Hayes and James Garfield, 1877-1881.
In August 1882, Burch became a bookkeeper for First National Bank, predecessor to today’s Hawthorn Bank.
When he died in 1916, he was the bank’s president.
He was a member of the Board of Regents of Lincoln Institute for 14 years and was treasurer of the Jefferson City Building and Loan Association, of which he was a charter director.
Burch also was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Republican and an active member of the Presbyterian Church, being superintendent of the Sunday School for many years.
And Burch was a direct descendent of a brother and a co-patriot of General Nathanael Green of Revolutionary fame.