Portrait courtesy of www.legis.iowa.gov.
Today marks a return to Iowa and another one of that state's oddly named legislators, Staats Gouverneur Burnet of Benton County. Born into a prominent Cincinnati, Ohio family on January 27, 1827, Staats G. Burnet was one of several children born to Isaac Gouverneur (1784-1856) and Keturah "Kitty" Winne Gordon Burnet. A distinguished figure in his own right, Isaac G. Burnet was a former Mayor of Cincinnati (serving from 1819-1831) and could count among his brothers two other men of wide repute, Jacob Burnet (1770-1853), a former U.S. Senator from Ohio, state supreme court justice and the author of Ohio's first state constitution, and David Gouverneur Burnet (1786-1870), who served as President, Vice-President and Secretary of State for the Republic of Texas. Truly an impressive political family!
Being born into a family with impressive ancestry, Staats G. Burnet attended the Woodward High School in Cincinnati and following his graduation in 1844 began pursuing a career in law. He married on January 15, 1852, to Isabelle Adelia Bromwell (1834-1920), a native of Virginia. The couple would later have nine children, Edith (born 1853), William Bromwell (1854-1909), Arthur (1856-1927), Julia (1858-1930), Harry (1861-1909), Sarah Belle (1863-1865), Paul (born 1866), Margaret (1868-1960) and David Staats (1875-1882). Of these children, William Bromwell Burnet would follow his ancestors into public service, being U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio from 1886-89.
Following his admittance to the Ohio bar, Burnet practiced law in Cincinnati and in 1867 removed with his family to Benton County, Iowa. After establishing roots in Blairstown, Burnet farmed and became active in the Producer's Grange, No. 49, and would serve as its Master in 1871. The 1878 History of Benton County relates that prior to his election to the legislature Burnet held several local offices in Blairstown, and in 1873 received the nomination for Benton County's representative as a candidate of the Anti-Monopoly party.
Burnet won the election for the legislature in November 1873 and after taking his seat in January 1874 was named to the committees on Railroads, the State University, Suppression of Intemperance, and Ways and Means. Burnet's term concluded in January 1876 and some years later removed back to Cincinnati, where he would reside with his son William. He would retire from the practice of law and died at his son's home on December 17, 1888, the cause of death being attributed to kidney trouble. Burnett was survived by his wife and children and was interred at Cincinnati's famed Spring Grove Cemetery. The fourth largest cemetery in the United States, Spring Grove is the resting place of many prominent Ohio political figures, including Salmon P. Chase, Alphonso Taft, Nicholas Longworth, George Hunt Pendleton, Henry Stanbery, John McLean, Stanley Mathews and Joseph Benson Foraker.
From the Indianapolis Journal, December 18, 1888.