RICHARD FENNER BURGES(January 7, 1873 - January 13, 1945)
Richard F. Burges was born at Seguin, Texas to Bettie (Rust) and William H. Burges,Sr . In 1892 he followed his older
brother William, and his uncle, Dr.W.M. Yandell to El Paso where he studied law in Williams’ office, then was admitted to the bar in 1894.
From the time he came to El Paso, Burges played a prominent part in the development of El Paso and the Southwest. As city attorney from 1905 to 1907 he led the fight against organized gambling and wrote the city charter that was still in effect at the time of his death. An able attorney in many areas, his special field was irrigation law. He played a prominent role in the initiation and development of the Elephant Butte Dam project and was elected president of the National Irrigation Congress in 1915.
He served as Assistant Counsel for the United States in 1911 regarding the Chamizal controversy; counsel for Texas in negotiations with New Mexico over diversion of waters of the Pecos River; special counsel and later member for Texas of the Rio Grande Compact Commission; authored the Texas Irrigation Code, the Texas Forestry Act and (1923) was President of the Texas Forestry Association. He was also appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to serve on an advisory committee for reformation of the State Rules of the Practice of Civil Procedures. Burges also served two terms as State Representative, 1913 (thirty-third legislature), and 1915 (thirty-fourth legislature).
In June 1917 Burges organized Company B, Texas National Guard which was incorporated into the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division as Company A, 141st Infantry. He commanded his battalion in the battle of the Argonne and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for distinguished service. Serving under Burges was Sam Dreben, the “Fighting Jew”, called by Gen. Pershing the ‘bravest man in the AEF”. Burges was promoted to Major just before returning home at the end of the war.
In 1898, Richard F. Burges married Ethel Petrie Shelton, an estimable young lady of a prominent family. Ethel died in April, 1912 when the Burges house was in its’ early stages of construction. To Richard and Ethel Burges was born a daughter, Jane.
Upon Richards’ death in 1945, Jane inherited the estate, and, on Janes’ death in 1986, she bequeathed the Burges home to The El Paso County Historical Society.
The Burges House is located in the Sunset Heights Historic District.
Richard F. Burges
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