Robert Jones Burdette

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Robert Jones Burdette
Born(1844-07-30)July 30, 1844
DiedNovember 19, 1914(1914-11-19) (aged 70)
  • Humorist
  • clergyman
  • Caroline S. Garret
(m. 1899)

Robert Jones Burdette (July 30, 1844 – November 19, 1914) was an American humorist and clergyman who became noted through his paragraphs in The Hawk Eye newspaper in Burlington, Iowa. Mary G. Burdette was his sister.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Greensboro, Pennsylvania, and received a secondary education in Peoria, Illinois. During the Civil War he served as a private in the 47th Illinois infantry. In 1869 he became night editor of the Peoria Daily Transcript and afterward was associated with other newspapers. He joined the staff of the Burlington Hawkeye in 1872, and his humorous paragraphs soon began to be quoted in newspapers throughout the country.

With the encouragement of his first wife, the former Caroline S. Garret of Peoria, he began speaking in public. Consequently, he made a number of successful lecture tours. His lecture, "The Rise and Fall of the Mustache," was delivered well over three thousand times during a 30-year period. He also wrote the poem "Orphan Born," as well as "My First Cigar." He was sometimes referred to as the Burlington Hawkeye Man. In 1884, he left the Hawkeye to replace Stanley Huntley as the staff humorist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Ministerial career[edit]

Clara Bradley Baker, Mrs. Robert J. Burdette, Who's who among the women of California

He became a licensed minister of the Baptist church in 1897 and took charge of the Temple Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California, in 1903,[1] becoming its pastor emeritus in 1909. His first wife died after 16 years of marriage, and in 1899 he married Clara (Bradley) Baker (1855-1954), a Pasadena widow active in the Temple Baptist Church and various civic organizations. She was a founder of Alpha Phi Fraternity, author of several books, and a philanthropist.

During his final years, the couple lived in Pasadena, in a home on Orange Grove Boulevard, where he died in 1914.[2]


Robert Jones Burdette's writings were the source of humorous lectures by John Austen Hamlin on Hamlin's tours to promote his Wizard Oil patent medicine.[3]

A collection of Burdette's writings, edited by Clara, was published in 1922 under the title Robert J. Burdette: His Message.

Partial list of books[edit]

  • The Rise and Fall of the Mustache and other Hawkeyetems (1877)
  • Hawkeyes (1880)
  • Life of William Penn (1882)
  • Innach Gerden and Other Comic Sketches (1886)
  • Chimes from a Jester's Bells (1897)
  • Old Time and Young Tom (1912)
  • Gems of Modern Wit and Humor with stories and introduction by Robert J Burdette (1903)
  • American Biography & Genealogy, Volume I, Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co. (1910)
  • As Thy Day, Saalfield Publishing Co., Akron Ohio (date unknown) credited as Robert J. Burdette, D.D. and others


  1. ^ "New Church Is 'Temple,'" Los Angeles Daily Times, July 18, 1903, excerpted in website, Los Angeles in the 1900s
  2. ^ "Robert J. Burdette Dead. Noted Humorist, Lecturer, and Minister Dies in Pasadena". New York Times. November 20, 1914. Retrieved 2011-01-16. Robert Jones Burdette was born in Greensboro, Penn., and was in his seventy-first year. He was the son of Frederick F. and Sophia J. Burdette. ...
  3. ^ Carson, Gerald (1961). One for a man, two for a horse: A pictorial history, grave and comic, of patent medicines. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. p. 37.

Other reading[edit]

External links[edit]