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Robert Jones Burdette (July 30, 1844 – November 19, 1914) was an American humorist and clergyman who became noted through his paragraphs in the Burlington (Iowa) Hawkeye.
He was born in Greensboro, Pennsylvania, and received a secondary education in Peoria, Illinois During the Civil War he served as a private in the 47th Illinois infantry. In 1869 he became night editor of the Peoria Daily Transcript and afterward was associated with other papers. He joined the staff of the Burlington Hawkeye in 1872, and his humorous paragraphs soon began to be quoted in newspapers throughout the country, with the result that, beginning in 1876, with the encouragement of his wife, the former Carrie Garret of Peoria, he made a number of successful lecture tours. His lecture, "The Rise and Fall of the Mustache," was delivered well over three thousand times during a thirty-year period. He also wrote the poem "Orphan Born," as well as "My First Cigar". He was sometimes referred to as the Hawkeye Man. In 1884, he left the Hawkeye to replace Stanley Huntley as the staff humorist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
He became a licensed minister of the Baptist church in 1897, and took charge of the Temple Baptist Church at Los Angeles, California, in 1903, and was made its pastor emeritus in 1909. His first wife had died after 16 years of marriage, and he was married in 1899, to Clara (Bradley) Baker, a Pasadena widow active in the Temple Baptist Church and various civic organizations. During his final years he lived in Pasadena, where he died in his Orange Grove Boulevard home in 1914. A collection of his writings, edited by Clara, was published in 1922 under the title Robert J. Burdette: His Message.
Partial list of books
- The Rise and Fall of the Mustache and other Hawkeyetems (1877)
- Hawkeyes (1880)
- Life of William Penn (1882)
- Innach Gerden and Other Comic Sketches (1886)
- Chimes from a Jester's Bells (1897)
- Old Time and Young Tom (1912)
- Gems of Modern Wit and Humor with stories and introduction by Robert J Burdette (1903)
- My First Cigar – humorous poem by Burdette.
- Many Robert J. Burdette stories read in Mister Ron's Basement Podcast (now indexed), including the entire ninety-two minute long Rise and Fall of the Mustache lecture from 1877