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Biography of Arthur Burtis

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Arthur Burtis, born at Foster’s Meadow. Long Island, July 12. 1778, is set down as the eldest son of John (3) and Sarah (Foster) Burtis. He came to New York from Hempstead, Long Island, in 1798. He lived for many years on the corner of Broome street and the Bowery. He was a member of the common council representing the eighth ward from 1813 to 1816. He remained in New York until 1831, when hix health failing he purchased a farm near Geneva, New York, to which he removed in 1832, and where he died January 9, 1833. During his residence in the city of New York, over thirty years, he devoted himself to the poor of the city. He made a study of conditions of the insane poor of Europe and America, and corresponded with eminent philanthropists on method and systems of relief. Nearest his heart was the education, compulsory if need he, of the children of the poor and their separation from evil surroundings. He was one of the founders of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents and of the House of Refuge, and one of the original stockholders and board of managers of the New York high school in 1824-25. He resigned from the board of Commissioners of Public Charities in March, 1831, having held the office of general superintendent, and having had charge of all the public charities institutions of New York for many years. The first suggestion of a house for juvenile delinquents came from him, and upon his advice, and through his instrumentality, Blackwell’s Island was purchased for the city. He was a large-hearted and philanthropic man. He was a charter member of Tammany Hall when it was an Agricultural Society. He had a large experience of men and affairs, and in his judgment the men of greatest influence in public life were lawyers, and his great desire was that his son Arthur should become a power in the world for good.

Arthur Burtis married (first), in 1799, Elizabeth, daughter of Isaac Hendrickson, of Hempstead. She died in 1802, leaving one sort, Thomas, born in r800, died in 1829, having been twice married, leaving one daughter, who died in 1850, unmarried. Mr. Burtis married (second) in 1804, Elizabeth, daughter of Drake Palmer, of Mamaronock, Long Island. This second wife was truly a Daughter of the Revolution, being born in February, 1782, while her parents were living at Mamaronock, near New Rochelle, while the English were still in possession of New York. Drake Palmer was blind and when medicines or provisions were needed for the family his wife, Abigail (Brown) Palmer, was obliged to take a trip to the city, going on horseback wearing a scarlet cloak with a hood. It was a ride of twenty miles, and the country swarmed with soldiers. She brought her family through these perilous days, and lived to the great age of one hundred and two years. Her daughter Elizabeth, wife of Arthur Burtis, was no discredit to her parentage. In 1799, when yellow fever raged in New York, she proved herself a St. Elizabeth, brave, loving, faithfully administering to the wants of the sick and dying. She lived to be eighty-one years old, was the honored mother of a large family, and is buried at Phelps, Ontario county, New York.

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