The life of Andrew Horace Burke reads almost like a stereotypical rags-to-riches romance of the American West. Born in New York City in 1850, Burke was orphaned at the age of four, and became a ward of the Children's Aid Society. As was the custom at that time, Burke, along with many other orphans, was shipped out west to be given to wealthy farmers. (Children were adopted and given room and board in exchange for labor in the adaptive parents' fields and homes.) Young Burke was adopted by a farm family near Noblesville, Indiana. In his early teens, Burke enlisted as a drummer boy with an Indiana regiment in the Civil War. After the war he returned to Indiana and finished his education, saving enough money to attend Asbury College (later renamed DePauw) for two years. Burke and his wife arrived at Casselton, Dakota Territory, in 1880 with only $65.00. Ten years later he was governor of North Dakota. Burke began as a general store bookkeeper, then became cashier of the First National Bank of Casselton. He served as treasurer of Cass County for six years, then became governor. During Burke's administration, it was discovered that North Dakota did not have any laws for the selection of presidential electors. This meant that North Dakota citizens could not vote for the president. Burke called for a special session of the legislature to convene on June 1, 1891, and attended to the law. The state participated in the 1892 elections when Grover Cleveland became president. Burke lost favor with farmers of the state when he vetoed a bill that would have forced railroads to lease sites near the tracks for building grain elevators and warehouses under conditions that were not acceptable to the railroads.
Andrew Burke was a penniless orphaned child in New York City. He served as a drummer boy in the Civil War.
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