JUDGE JESSE C. BURCH, ex-county judge of Hale county and at present a retired resident of Plainview, has the distinction of having been a pioneer in three Texas counties, namely, Ellis, Taylor and Hale, and in each one has been a prominent factor in its initial development and upbuilding. A man now past the seventieth milestone of life, he has had a varied and interesting career, and has won esteem and high regard through his life of industry and sterling integrity. Born in Caddo parish, Louisiana, in 1833, he was a son of Rev. Jesse Burch, who was a native of Georgia but for a long number of years lived in Caddo parish, Louisiana, where he was a successful cotton planter. He was also a local preacher of the Methodist church South, and for years was one of the old-time exhorters and preachers in northwest Louisiana. His death occurred in 1856, and the Judge’s mother died during the course of the war. Judge Burch was reared on his father’s plantation. He received a good part of his education in the well known school of Professor John W. McKenzie, a noted educator of that period, his school being located near Clarksville, in Red River county, Texas, whither young Burch went from his home in Louisiana in order to attend school. On coming out of school he remained on the plantation for some years, and in 1860 became one of the early settlers of Ellis county, Texas, where he located on a farm. From here he enlisted, in April, 1861, in Company C, Colonel Bufford’s regiment, General Parson’s brigade of cavalry, and was a cavalryman throughout the war, being in the Trans-Mississippi Department. He saw his first service in northern Arkansas, whence the regiment went with General Marmaduke on the raid into Missouri, penetrating into that state as far as Cape Girardeau. He participated in many perilous and adventurous scouting expeditions in Missouri and Arkansas. In the latter part of the war the regiment came down into Louisiana and assisted in repelling the Banks expedition at Mansfield, and thence followed the federal army down the Red river, his last engagement being the battle of Yellow Bayou. On coming out of the army in 1865, he returned to Ellis county and resumed farming, his farm of five hundred acres becoming one of the best conducted and most profitable places in the county. He continued his residence in Ellis county until 1879, when he moved to Taylor county, that being then in a pioneer country and just opening up to settlement. After living t here for eight years, in the fall of 1887 he came to Hale county, which was not organized until the following year, and he has been identified closely with the material progress and social and civic development of this section of the state ever since. He took up land three miles northeast of where Plainview is now situated, and later his sons joined him in the cattle ranching business. They owned four hundred acres, with additional pasturage leased for their cattle so that they had a thousand acres inclosed with fence. Judge Burch sold out his ranch interest in 1903, and is now living retired from active affairs.
In the fall of 1888, at the first regular election after the county was organized, he was elected to the office of county judge, which indicates the esteem and confidence in which he has held by his fellow citizens. He served for two terms or four years, during which he made a most excellent record in administering the generous load of duties which fall to the lot of such an official in a newly organized county. Judge Burch is a member of the Methodist church.
Judge Burch was married in Caddo parish, Louisiana, to Miss Maria T. McClellan. She was a native of Tennessee, educated at Lebanon, that state, and died at Plainview in 1894. There were six children by this marriage, namely: Robert E., who has been sheriff of Hale county since 1896; Mrs. Sudie Red; Hugh M.; Mrs. Hettie Johnston; Mrs. Ione Morrison, and Jesse I. Burch.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 247-248.