HENRY L. BURNETT, M. D.
Among the men of Saline county, Illinois, who by their industry have made their own way to local prominence, mention must be made of Henry L. Burnett, M. D., the well known capitalist of Raleigh. If history teaches by example, the lessons inculcated by biography must be still more impressive. We see exhibited in the varieties of human character, under different circumstances, something to instruct us and encourage all our efforts in every emergency in life. There is no concurrence of events which produces this effect more certainly than the steps by which success has been acquired through the unaided efforts of youthful enterprise, as illustrated in the life of Dr. Burnett.
Dr. Burnett comes from good old pioneer stock, and was born near Raleigh, Illinois, September 22, 1848, a son of Hiram and Emily (Bramlett) Burnett. Hiram Burnett was born in Spottsylvania county, Virginia, and went thence to Kentucky and later to Illinois, in 1818. His father was a blacksmith by trade and a country postmaster between Eldorado and Raleigh, this village being started at the time Saline county was formed by dividing it from Gallatin county. As a youth Hiram Burnett learned the trade of blacksmith with his father, and during the Black Hawk war served in the American army. When Saline county was formed he became the first clerk of the county court, and served in that office for close to twenty years, or until the county seat was moved to Harrisburg. He then engaged in farming on a Black Hawk war grant and also was a school teacher for some years, as he had been in early life, and later became a justice of the peace, all of these offices coming to him as tokens of the respect and esteem in which he was held by his fellow men and the confidence they had in his fairmindedness and ability. For a number of years he was known as a Hard Shell Baptist, but when he became a member of Raleigh Lodge, No. 128, A. F. & A. M., some of his beliefs became less radical. His son, Dr. Burnett, is now the possessor of an autographed letter from Robert G. Ingersoll, written upon receipt from Hiram Burnett, of the application for membership to Raleigh Masonic Lodge of his brother Eben, over whom his famous eulogy was
which was signed by Dr. Burnett's father. Eben practiced law at Raleigh prior to his removal to Peoria. Hiram Burnett continued to farm until his death, in his eighty-second year, and the log house which was his home is still standing on the land. His first wife, Sarah Morris, bore him three children who grew to maturity: William W., captain of Company E, Twenty-ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, who was killed while leading his company at the battle of Shiloh; Richard M., who served through the Civil war in the same company with his brother, and died at the age of forty-eight years, became captain of the same company, although he did not immediately succeed his brother; and Charles P., who was a merchant of the city of Eldorado, where he built up the largest business in the county, now being conducted by his four sons. Mr. Burnett was married (second) to Emily Bramlett, whom he survived for twenty years, and they had a family of six children to reach maturity: Lucinda; Catherine; Henry L.; Hiram A., who was a merchant of Raleigh, but for the past twenty years has been a resident of Kansas, and is now president of the First National Bank of Dodge City; Mary A., deceased, who married the late Dr. J. W. Ross; and Eliza, who married W. W. Alexander, of Covington, Kentucky.
Henry L. Burnett began teaching school when he was twenty-one years of age, and continued to engage in that profession until he was twenty-four, at which time he began reading medicine with Dr. J. C. Mathews, who is now deceased. He entered the old Missouri Medical College, at St. Louis, and after graduation therefrom entered into practice, but finding that it did not agree with his health he gave it up and began to sell goods, this occupying his attention for twenty years. He finally sold a half-interest in his store, but has retained the rest. While engaged in the mercantile business he began to accommodate those who needed financial assistance, and he has found this so profitable that he has given the greater part of his time to it for upwards of twenty years, but has abandoned his practice entirely. Doctor Burnett is the owner of several farms, to which he often pays a visit when he feels the need of relaxation from business cares, and has always declared that he was proud he had been born on a farm. He has kept out of politics, preferring to give his time and attention to his business interests. Until 1896 he was affiliated with the Democratic party, but since then has been classed as a Republican although he is really independent in his principles and gives his support to the candidate rather than the party. Since 1887 he has been connected with the Masonic fraternity, being past worshipful master and taking an active part in the work of the Blue Lodge.
On July 29, 1877, Dr. Burnett was married to Miss Prudence Corwin, daughter of Dr. J. M. Crowin, [Corwin?] who came from Indiana and was engaged in practice in Raleigh for ten years. Two sons have been born to Dr. and Mrs. Burnett, namely: Rex C., who is associated in business with his father; and Henry L., Jr., who now attends the home schools. Dr. Burnett is possessed of the qualities of industry, honesty and integrity, attributes essential to an upright and successful business life, and as a sociable and genial man is one of the most popular citizens in Raleigh.