Benjamin Franklin Burch

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Benjamin Franklin Burch
Benjamin F. Burch.jpg
Benjamin F. Burch
Delegate to the Oregon Constitutional Convention
In office
Constituency Polk County
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
In office
Constituency Polk County
President of the Oregon State Senate
In office
Preceded by Thomas R. Cornelius
Succeeded by James D. Fay
Personal details
Born May 2, 1825
Chariton County, Missouri
Died March 24, 1893(1893-03-24) (aged 67)
Independence, Oregon
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Eliza A. Davidson

Benjamin Franklin Burch (May 2, 1825 – March 24, 1893) was an American farmer, soldier, and politician in what became the state of Oregon. A native of Missouri, he moved to the Oregon Country in 1845 and served in the Cayuse and Yakima wars. A Democrat, he represented Polk County at the Oregon Constitutional Convention, in the Oregon House of Representatives, and in the Oregon State Senate including one session as President of the Senate.

Early life[edit]

Benjamin Burch was born in Chariton County, Missouri, on May 2, 1825, to Samuel Burch and Eleanor (née Lock) Burch.[1] In 1845, he crossed the Great Plains on the Oregon Trail bound for the Oregon Country. He settled in what became Polk County in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.[2] At the time it was under the authority of the Provisional Government of Oregon, and in 1848 became the Oregon Territory. In 1846, he helped Jesse Applegate and Levi Scott build the Applegate Trail, a route to the valley through Southern Oregon.[3]

Burch then returned to his home where had tutored Applegate’s children before becoming a teacher at the first school in the county.[1] After the breakout of the Cayuse War in 1847, he volunteered for the militia and served as an adjutant.[3] Following the war, on September 6, 1848, he married Kentucky native Eliza A. Davidson who had immigrated to Oregon from Illinois the year before.[1][3] They had seven children, including Benjamin, Jr.[3] During the Yakima War in 1856 Burch served as a captain of a company of militia.[3][4]

Political career[edit]

In 1857, he was elected to represent Polk County in the Oregon Constitutional Convention held in Oregon in August and September.[2] At the convention he was part of a special committee with James K. Kelly and La Fayette Grover that designed the Oregon State Seal.[2] Burch was also a member of the Military Affairs Committee.[2] In 1858, he was elected to the first session of the state legislature as a Democrat representing Polk County in the Oregon House of Representatives.[5] Oregon was still waiting to be admitted to the Union, and the legislature did not officially convene until 1859.[6]

Burch remained out of politics until 1868 when he was elected to the Oregon State Senate.[7] He represented Polk County as a Democrat during a four-year term.[8] During the 1868 legislature he served as President of the Senate.[7]

Later years[edit]

In 1877, he became the Superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem by appointment of Governor Stephen F. Chadwick, serving two terms.[1][4] He was appointed as the receiver at the Oregon City Land Office in 1887 by President Grover Cleveland.[1][4] Benjamin Franklin Burch died on March 24, 1893, at the age of 67 at his farm near Independence.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Corning, Howard M. (1989) Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing. p. 38.
  2. ^ a b c d Crafting the Oregon Constitution: Biographical Sketch of Benjamin F. Burch Oregon State Archives. 2009. Retrieved on June 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lang, Herbert O. (1885) History of the Willamette Valley, Being a Description of the Valley and Its Resources, with an Account of Its Discovery and Settlement by White Men, and Its Subsequent History Together with Personal Reminiscences of Its Early Pioneers. G.H. Himes, Book and Job Printer, p. 633.
  4. ^ a b c d “Another Of The Few Remaining Pioneers Of Oregon Is Dead”, The Oregonian, March 25, 1893.
  5. ^ Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide: 1858 Regular Session (1st Pre-Admission). Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on June 20, 2016.
  6. ^ Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide: 1859 Special Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on June 20, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide: 1868 Regular Session (5th). Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on June 20, 2016.
  8. ^ Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide: 1870 Regular Session (6th). Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on June 20, 2016.