Biography of Hon. John Burnett
Benton County, Oregon Biographies





HON. JOHN BURNETT-Was born in Louisiana, Pike county, Missouri, on the 4th of July, 1835. His father died when the suhject of our sketch was 55 years old, leaving a widow and five children with but little of this world's goods. Young Burnett sat about helping his mother (for whom he had a strong affection) support and raise the family. Ile first engaged with E. Draper & Brothers, merchants in Louisiana, to tend in their store. After remaining with them about a year he became tired of the confinement in the store and hired out to work on a flat boat on the Mississippi river, boating wood to St. Louis and giving his earnings to his mother. In the spring of 1849 he was offered an outfit to California by a relative, and though he was less than 18 years of age, he gladly accepted the offer and started across the plains to seek his fortune in the gold mines. He engaged in mining and soon earned enough to pay for his outfit, which he sent back to his friend the first opportunity. Ile followed mining for about two years with fair success for a boy, when he returned to his native State, and in the spring of 1853 again crossed the plains with a band of cattle. After selling his cattle he engaged a second time in mining in Nevada county, California, where he worked for about two years, when his health became very much impaired and he gave up mining. in the spring of 1858 he came to Oregon and settled in Benton county, where be has resided ever since. The next year after reaching Oregon he was married to Miss Martha Hinton, and about that time he commence reading law with Colonel Kelsay, of Corvallis. By hard study and close application he was enabled a year afterwards to pass an examination of a committee composed of Col. Kelsay, Hon. J.C. Powell and Hon. Richard Williams, and was admitted to practice law in the Second Judicial District by Hon. R. E. Stratton, Judge of said District. He soon afterwards opened an office in Corvallis and engaged in practicing law, where he has enjoyed a lucrative practice for years. He is a democrat in politics, of the Jackson Benton school, has always opposed the Calhoun Doctrine, and has always been ready to give a "reason for the faith that is in him," however unpopular it might be. In 1868 he was elected a democratic Elector for Seymour and Blair, upon the same ticket with Hon. James H. Slater and Hon. S. F. Chadwick. In 1870 he was elected County Judge of Benton county. In 1872 he ran for Congress but was defeated by Hon. Joseph Wilson by a small majority. In 1874 he was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State and ex-officio Judge of the Second Judicial District as an independent contesting candidate, with his former tutor, Hon. John Kelsay and also Hon. L. F. Mosher. In 1878 he was elected State Senator from Benton county for four years and was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which he resigned in 188o to accept the democratic nomination to the Supreme Bench. In 1882 he was appointed by Governor Thayer Judge of the Second Judical District, to fill out part of an unexpired term of Hon. J. F. Watson. Since the expiration of his appointment he has been engaged in practicing his profession. Judge Burnett's services on the Bench and in the Legislature, and his efforts at the bar and on the hustings have made his name familiar throughout the State. He has been engaged in a great number of murder trials fur the defense, and his success as a criminnl lawyer has been equal, perhaps, to any in the State. It is claimed by his friends that his efforts in behalf of L. D. Miller, James McCabe, Charles Williams, Frank Reid, Wm. Skelton, - Wheeler. Wm. Abrams and Asa Burbank in their several trials for murder, as well as other notable murder cases, place him in the front rank of advocates.

From:
History of Benton County, Oregon
Published by: David D. Fagan
A. G. Walling, Printers, Lithograohers, Ect.
Portland, Oregon 1885


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