Richard Fenner Burges

Richard Fenner Burges (January 7, 1873 – January 13, 1945) was an American attorney, legislator and conservationist.


. . . Richard Fenner Burges . . .

Burges was born on January 7, 1873, in Seguin, Texas, the son of William H. Burges Sr., an attorney, and Bettie Rust. His mother died six days after he was born, and he was raised by his father, his grandmother and his aunt, Nannie.[1]

He was privately tutored until the eighth grade, when he began studies with a German professor. He attended Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas for a year, “where he excelled in rhetoric and oration.”[1]

In 1898 he was married to Ethel Petrie Shelton, and they had a daughter, Jane (later Perrenot). He died in El Paso on January 13, 1945. His home at 603 West Yandell, was donated by his daughter to the El Paso County Historical Society in 1986. His vast collection of “books, correspondence, photographs, scrapbook, articles, historical paper and other documents” can be examined there. A branch of the city’s public library is named in his honor.[1][2]

Burges read law in the offices of his father in Seguin and of J.D. Guinn in New Braunfels and was admitted to the bar in 1894.[2]

In 1904 Burges took part in a “so-called ‘clean up’ of El Paso” and became city attorney there from 1905 to 1907 under Mayor Charles Davis, and in 1907 he wrote a city charter that established a commission form of government in that city. In 1910–11 he was associate counsel for the United States in the arbitration of the Chamizal Dispute with Mexico and was in 1915 the counsel for the El Paso County Water Improvement District. where he helped in the construction of the Elephant Butte irrigation project.[1][2]

He was also a special counsel for the Texas-Rio Grande Compact Commission and from 1935 to 1940 was a special attorney for the United States Department of Justice in negotiations with Mexico for a Rio Grande rectification project.[2]

Burges was a member of the Texas House of Representatives in 1913-15 and “wrote or influenced the passing of the Texas Irrigation Code, the royalty mining act, a forestry act, a married woman’s property act, and a compulsory-education act.”[2] He also co-authored the Burgess-Glasscock Act, which stated, among other things, that “all unappropriated waters in this state, not simply those in arid West Texas, were the property of the state.”[3]

. . . Richard Fenner Burges . . .

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. . . Richard Fenner Burges . . .