Transcript:Orth, Samuel P. History of Cleveland, Ohio/v3p008


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8                            HISTORY OF CLEVELAND

and was particularly interested in its missionary and Sunday-school departments.
He was fond of business life and found genuine pleasure in carefully manipulating
railway interests but he was also equally fond of music and art and possessed
a fine artistic sense. Moreover, he was a keen lover of books and the riches of
literature were among his most valued possessions. He enjoyed hunting and
fishing and was on the whole a man of splendid balance, whose life was not so
busy in its commercial relations as to crowd out recreation and pleasure nor to
withhold from him the delights of companionship. He held friendship inviolable
and was devoted to his family, giving to them the best of his nature in his efforts
to enhance their welfare and promote their happiness.

                                STEVENSON BURKE.

  On the pages of Cleveland's history appears the name of no man whose fame
was more worthily won or justly merited than that of Judge Stevenson Burke,
who for years figured prominently as a conspicuous and gifted member of
the Ohio bar, while in the circles of railway management and control he displayed
an initiative spirit that placed him in a foremost position among the leading
representative railway interests in the country. His life record covered the
intervening years from the 26th of November, 1826, to the 24th of April, 1904.
It was a life fraught with high purpose and characterized by successful accomplishment.
The place of his nativity was St. Lawrence county, New York, where
he remained until about eight years of age, when in 1834 the family removed to
North Ridgeville, Lorain county, Ohio. As a boy he was interested in games
and pursuits which engaged the attention of the youths of the period but even
at that age his fitness for leadership was manifested in that he often planned the
projects and games in which he and his associates participated and he seemed
to get results from every act. He was, moreover, a precocious youth intellectually.
At the age of six years he had mastered the old English reader and when
less than eight years of age had read Pope's Essay On Man. Not only did he
learn easily but thoroughly mastered every branch of study or line of thought
which came to his attention, storing up wisdom and knowledge for later years.
He diligently applied himself to the mastery of those branches of learning which
constituted his educational opportunities and displayed such aptitude in his studies
that at the age of seventeen years he was employed as teacher of a district

  It has been demonstrated again and again that it is only under the pressure
of adversity and the stimulus of opposition that the best and strongest in man
is brought out and developed. The life record of Judge Burke is another verification
of this fact. The financial resources of the family did not permit of
his continuing his education, but with a desire for intellectual progress he personally
furnished the means to carry on his studies and soon mastered the
branches taught in a select school, after which he matriculated in the Ohio Wesleyan
University, at Delaware, Ohio. His natural trend was in professional
lines, and determining upon the practice of law as a life work, his thorough
preliminary reading was following by admission to the bar in 1848. He then
opened a law office at Elyria, Lorain county, and entered at once upon a professional
career. No dreary novitiate awaited him. He came to the starting
point of his law practice well equipped with broad legal learning and laudable
ambition. To an understanding of uncommon acuteness and vigor he added
thorough and conscientious preparatory training while he exemplified in his
practice all the higher elements of the truly great lawyer. He was constantly
inspired by an innate, inflexible love of justice and a delicate sense of personal
honor which controlled him in all of his personal relations. His fidelity to the
interests of his clients was proverbial and yet he never forgot that he owed a

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