1899 Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois Knox County, IL
CAPTAIN JAMES L. BURKHALTER
Captain James L. Burkhalter, son of David and Mary Ann (Marks) Burkhalter, was born in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, April 15, 1835.
The Burkhalters are Swiss and came originally from the Canton of Berne. The name, which signifies “Keeper of the Castle”, is very common in Switzerland. Ulrich Burkhalter came to this country in 1732, and on August 11, took the oath of allegiance in William Penn’s Colony. He purchased three hundred acres of land in Burks County (now Lehigh), in Whitehall Township, just north of Allentown. It was here that the father of Captain Burkhalter was born.
Ulrich had a son Peter, who was Captain Burkhalter’s great-great-grandfather, and who possessed the landed estate of his father. He was a man of prominence. He was naturalized in 1761; was County Commissioner in 1787; was a member of the State Convention in the same year; was a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly for several terms; and was a Representative in Congress from 1791 to 1794. He was also Captain of a company of the Northampton Association, and saw active service during the Revolution in the Jerseys. Peter Burkhalter died in 1806. He had a son whose name was John Peter, and the latter had a son whose name was Henry, the grandfather of James L. Henry was the father of fourteen children, twelve of whom lived to maturity—six sons and six daughters. The third son, David, was the father of Captain Burkhalter.
Captain Burkhalter’s life is full of incident and interest. Both his patriotism and his manhood have made him a man of mark. The “War Governor,” Richard Yates, appointed him recruiting officer under the call of President Lincoln for 300,000 volunteers. He recruited Company “G” of the Eighty-third and Company “F” of the Eighty-sixth Illinois Volunteers. He then enlisted as a private in Company “F” and was elected Captain.
Under this rank, he commanded his company through its many campaigns. He was detailed for various other duties, such as building bridges and roads. As Prevost Marshal and later as Inspector General by appointment of General George H. Thomas, he served on staff duty under Generals McCook, Fearing, Morgan, Davis, and Slocum. He campaigned in very many different States—Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia—and was one of “Sherman’s Bummers” in that famous march through Georgia to the Sea. At the close of the war, he took part in the grand review of the armies at Washington.
Alongside the Captain’s military record, his civil record is worthy of mention. He had held various public offices, such as Police Magistrate and Town Clerk in Maquon, County Treasurer of Knox County for eleven consecutive years, and Supervisor from the City of Galesburg for five terms. In January, 1883, he was elected president of the Farmer’s and Mechanics’ Bank, which position he still holds.
His political creed is republican. He is strictly a party man. He is an uncompromising believer in republican principles, and he follows them to the end. His religious creed is broad, and his impulses are benevolent. He is a believer in the righteousness of good works.
Captain Burkhalter was married to Martha E. Adle, December 2, 1858. To them were born eight children: Charles F., Henry L., James W., Desdemona, John D., Nellie L., Robert P., and Alvin P.
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