Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Robert Jones Burdette, Jr.

Robert Jones Burdette, Jr. was born in Burlington, Iowa, on April 10, 1877, according to his passport, World War I and II draft cards and Social Security application. Who’s Who on the Pacific Coast, 1913, said Burdette’s parents were Robert Jones Burdette and Caroline Spaulding Garrett who married March 4, 1870, in Peoria, Illinois. Caroline died in May 1884. Burdette’s father’s second marriage was to Clara Bradley Baker on March 27, 1898 in Pasadena, California.

Burdette’s father was editor of the Hawkeye newspaper in Burlington, Iowa from 1876 to 1884; a lecturer from 1876 to 1905; and licensed to preach in 1897 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), September 2, 1894, devoted a sentence to Burdette in its section “In Suburban Towns”: “Mr. Robert J. Burdette, Jr., returned home to ‘Robin’s Nest,’ Bryn Mawr, yesterday afternoon from visiting friends in Beverly.”

The Inquirer, April 16, 1899, noted Burdette’s work in college: “The Junior class of Haverford College gave their annual reception Wednesday evening in Alumni Hall, which was preceded by a play entitled ‘The Old Log Cabin,’ (with anachronisms), written by Robert J. Burdette, Jr., and presented by the class of 1900.”

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Burdette in Haverford, Pennsylvania where he was a student at Haverford College. Burdette, class of 1900, provided illustrations for the Haverford College Athletic Annual 1898–99 here, here and here.

In the Haverford College Athletic Annual and 1900 Class Book, Burdette was on the Haverfordian Board of Editors. Burdette was pictured with twice pictured with the board here and here. Burdette’s illustrations, play and poem are here, here, here, and here. His class photograph is here. Haverford Verse (1908) included a piece by Burdette.

Burdette’s graduation was celebrated with his family. In the book Robert J. Burdette; His Message, his stepmother wrote: 

In June, 1900, the older son, Robert J. Burdette, Jr., graduated from Haverford, and the younger son passed his entrance examinations for Harvard at seventeen, with sufficient honors that a year of travel might not be altogether a loss, so we four went abroad for the joy of Mr. Burdette’s first trip to foreign lands, for a post-graduate course for the older son, and a better preparation for college life for the younger son, and my joy in all three and a visit to many old scenes of travel.
The “younger son” was Roy B. Wheeler, Burdette’s stepbrother. Burdette and his father’s passport applications were dated June 22, 1900. The Inquirer, July 1, 1900, reported the departure date for the Burdette family: “Mr. Robert J. Burdette and son, Robert J. Burdette, Jr., of Haverford, will sail for Europe July 4.”

From left to right: Burdette, his stepmother, father, and stepbrother

Burdette’s early newspaper journey was noted in the Tacoma Evening News (Washington), February 18, 1903.

Robert J. Burdette, jr., son of Robert J. Burdette, the well known newspaper man and humorist, who has been connected with the Philadelphia Bulletin, has been appointed associate editor of the Burlington Hawkeye, the paper with which his father was so prominently identified for many years.
Burdette was counted in the 1905 Iowa state census as a resident of Des Moines.

The Fourth Estate, May 2, 1908, reported Burdette’s Lanky Loo comic strip. 

Robert J. Burdette, Jr., whose father was well known as the “Burlington Hawkeye Man,” is following in the footsteps of his humorous parent.

Mr. Burdette, Jr., who is an only son, had a brief experience in newspaper writing before he entered into the field as a “funny picture maker” with the New York Sunday World. The series he is now drawing is that of a thin individual who thinks he can play ball, and is run under the caption “Lanky Loo.”

His pictures have the endorsement of his father, who is now pastor of the Pasadena (Ca.) Temple, and the active head of one of the most prosperous congregations on the Pacific Coast.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was Burdette’s home in the 1910 census. He was a newspaper reporter. After the census enumeration, Burdette married and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. The 1911 Salt Lake City city directory listed Burdette at 20 Harmony Place. His wife, Felicia Glenn Johnson, gave birth December 7, 1911, to a son, Robert Jones Burdette, who died two days later, according to the death certificate.

The Fourth Estate, April 3, 1915, noted the birth of Burdette’s son.

Robert J. Burdette, a Salt Lake City newspaper man, is the father of a new son, who has been christened Robert J., III. The baby is a grandson of the famous late “Bob” Burdette, preacher, editor and humorist.
On September 12, 1918, Burdette signed his World War I draft card. He resided at 924 3rd Avenue in Salt Lake City. His occupation was newspaper reporter and stenographer for James P. Carey, Salt Lake Herald. Burdette was described as short, medium build with blue eyes and light hair.

Burdette’s address was the same in the 1920 census. The newspaper stenographer had two children, Caroline, age 7, and Robert, age 4. Later that year Burdette was an advertising writer at the Malcolm McAllister Company as listed in the city directory. The 1921 through 1925 city directories said Burdette was a reporter for the Tribune.

McWilliams, Alabama was Burdette’s home in the 1930 census. He continued as a newspaper reporter and his wife was a magazine writer. Their third child was Charles, age 9.

The 1940 census said Burdette had returned to Oklahoma City at 911 North Shartell. The reporter’s household included his wife, son Charles, an oil company truck driver, daughter Caroline, a widow, and granddaughter Glenne.

According to Burdette’s World War II draft card, which he signed April 27, 1942, he resided at 1211 North Western in Oklahoma City. He was employed at Bash Grocery, 1234 North Western.

Burdette passed away September 20, 1952, in Oklahoma. He was laid to rest at Rose Hill Burial Park

—Alex Jay


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