Andrew Horace Burke

May 15, 1850-Nov. 17, 1918
North Dakota Governor 1881-1892

Andrew Burke was born in New York City in 1850, was orphaned at age four and became a ward to the Children’s Aid Society. He became one of the thousands of children who, beginning in the 1850s, were placed on “orphan trains” bound for new lives with farm families in the West. A family near Noblesville, Ind., adopted Burke in 1859.

At age 12, Burke enlisted as a drummer boy with the 75th Indiana Infantry. Following the Civil War, he attended Indiana Asbury College (now Depauw University) in Greencastle, Ind. Burke worked jobs in Indiana, Ohio and Minnesota, and in 1880 he and his wife, ?name?, arrived in Casselton, Dakota Territory, with only $65. He worked as a bookkeeper before becoming a cashier with First National Bank, Casselton.

Burke entered public service as the treasurer of Cass County, a position he held for three terms (six years). On Nov. 4, 1890, he was elected governor by a popular vote. During Burke’s administration, it was discovered that North Dakota did not have laws for the selection of presidential electors, and he called a special session to ensure that the state could participate in the 1892 elections. Burke lost favor with farmers when he vetoed a bill that would have forced railroads to lease sites near the tracks for building grain elevators and warehouses under conditions that were not acceptable to the railroads. During his term, the Normal Schools at Valley City and Mayville were established and Fargo became the site of the state’s Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University). He was defeated in the gubernatorial race of 1892 and left the state a year later.

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