John G. Burch was born in Rensselaer county, N. Y., in 1827. He is a son of Henry and Susan (Garvey) Burch, and is descended from a long line of English ancestors. The Burch family left the mother country previous to the Revolution and came to America to seek a fortune. They possessed courage and perseverance and after settling in New Jersey soon displayed these characteristics. Ebenezer Burch, the grandfather of John G. Burch, won distinction as a soldier in the Revolutionary war. Henry Burch fought in the war of 1812. Both Mr. Burch's grandfather and grandmother received a pension and his father received a very handsome bounty, richly deserved. Mr. Burch attended the common schools and when just of age removed to Albany where he cast his first vote for old General Taylor for president in 1848. Railroading was a new enterprise in those days, and so, anxious to associate himself with a growing business, Mr. Burch connected himself with the Central Railroad as a master painter. For twenty-five years he worked for this company and was a witness of its steady growth to become the greatest road in the world. Mr. Burch was foreman of the first gang of men at West Albany, which has since become noted for its large railroad yard, and consequently he was a pioneer of West Albany. He has seen West Albany grow from nothing more than a huckleberry bush to its present size, as he says. Mr. Burch's keen foresight led him to believe that in time West Albany would grow to be a prosperous suburb of Albany, inasmuch as the railroad business was increasing so rapidly. He therefore decided to open a general trading store and in 1873 entered the business of selling groceries and provisions and in connection with the store, a coal and wood yard. His was the first store of its kind opened on that hill and the first coal and wood yard west of Lark street. He was associated with Mr. George W. Gibbons as a partner for eleven years. The business increased so rapidly that after a time Mr. Burch gave up the store and confined himself to selling coal and wood exclusively, which business he is engaged in to-day. In 1871 Mr. Burch was elected to represent the Ninth ward in the Common Council of Albany. After the expiration of this term, he was re-elected and chosen president of the board of aldermen. While Mr. Burch was president of the board, occurred the mayoralty election when George H. Thacher, Democrat, ran against Edmund L. Judson, Republican. The Democrats counted Mr. Judson out and he took it to the courts. Mr. Thacher, then mayor, fearing an unfavorable decision, resigned. As a consequence, Mr. Burch had the honor of acting as mayor until the election of the following spring. Mr. Burch made many friends while acting as mayor and displayed rare executive ability. With the exception of his first vote, which was cast for a Whig, Mr. Burch has voted the Republican ticket from Fremont to McKinley. Inasmuch as Mr. Burch was one of the first settlers and the first storekeeper in West Albany, he has acquired considerable property there. No work of a public nature, such as paving of streets or laying of drains or sewers, is attempted without first consulting him. He holds a leading place among property owners. In 1890 he took his son, George Seward, in partnership with him. He is no club or society man, for he believes all his time belongs to his business and his family. He is very domestic in his tastes. In 1853 he married Miss Mary A. Green of Clinton, Oneida county. Her family originally came from Connecticut. Their family consists of two daughters and three sons.
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