J. & W. Burt

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J. & W. Burt (1856-1857)

Detroit, Michigan

John Burt (1814-1886 Life)

William Burt (1825-1898 Life)


"1856-57 Detroit directory show the following listings:  Burt, J. & W. mathematical instrument makers 214 Jefferson Ave.  Burt, W. of J. & W. Burt with J. Burt, Burt, John of J. & W. Burt res. 25 Rowland"


"John Burt, son of William Austin Burt, was born in Wales Township, Erie County, New York on April 18, 1814.  He died in Detroit on August 16, 1886.  He is buried in the Burt Lot in Detroit.  From 1840 to 1850 he was engaged with his father in surveying in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  He was the first superintendent of construction of the first canal at Sault Ste. Marie.  He was the inventor of the locks and patentee that are used there.  With his brother William, he was a partner of J. & W. Burt in 1856 and 1857.  Apparently he left the company in 1857 to engage in many other enterprises.  He was also a partner in the firm of Burt & Watson in 1857 and 1858."

"William Burt was a son of William Austin Burt.  He was born in Mount Vernon, Michigan, October 31, 1825.  He died in Marquette, Michigan on December 19, 1898.  He is buried in the Burt Lot in the Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit.  He was associated with his father and his brother John as a surveyor until 1846.  From early in 1847 to 1858 he was a United States Deputy Surveyor.  He was a member of the firm Burt & Bailey from 1853 to 1856; in 1856 and 1857 with J. & W. Burt; and in 1857 and 1858 a member of the firm Burt & Watson, all of the concerns being in Detroit.  In 1866 he moved to Marquette, Michigan where he was engaged in other enterprises until his death in 1898."

Reference:  Smart, Charles E.   The Makers Of Surveying Instruments In America Since 1700  Troy, New York:  Regal Art Press.  1962 

Burt & Bailey (1853-1855) - The first mention of the firm Burt & Bailey is in the September 6, 1853 issue of the Detroit Advertiser "Messrs Burt & Bailey, 3 doors down below the Advertiser office have opened a factory for making and repairing mathematical instruments.  They are engaged in making Burt's Patent Solar Compasses."  It was not until December 9, 1854 that John Aylesworth Bailey, William Burt and John Burt signed an article of Co-partnership:  "To carry on the business of manufacturing and selling mathematical instruments of brass or other metal, and in repairing the same, and all things to said business belonging, to be carried on in said city of Detroit."  Bailey put into the firm tools of his trade and stock to the value of fourteen hundred dollars and William Burt and John Burt each seven hundred dollars in tools and stock in trade.  Bailey was to continue to be the instrument maker and to be paid 800 dollars per year:  "And it is hereby mutually agreed between said co-partners that said Bailey is to manage and carry on said business, except as hereinafter mentioned, and employ himself as a mechanic in the manufacturing part thereof, and to hire and pay, out of the assets, moneys and effects of said firm, such men under him, as he shall deem for the best interest of said business, and shall have as compassion for said services, over and above shi share of the profits of said co-partnership and shall be paid therefore by said co-partnership, at the rate of eight hundred dollars per year, for the time so employed by him in the actual management and direction of said business -- and also that neither said William Burt nor John Burt shall be required to devote his time or services in the management of said business -- but should both or either of them desire and offer to be employed or occupied in the management or direction of the affairs and business of said co-partnership, they shall have the right to be so employed."  There is no evidence that either John or William Burt worked as instrument makers.  Neither is listed in the Detroit Directories of 1853 or 1855 as residents of the city (there is no 1854 directory).  On November 17, 1855 John Bailey chose to end the co-partnership as noted in an agreement dated February 13, 1856:  "And whereas said Bailey is desirous of withdrawing from said firm and engaging in other business, and to assign to said William Burt and John Burt all his interest in said business....They mutually agree that the co-partnership between them formed under said articles, be dissolved to take effect from and after the seventeenth day of November last past...."  John Bailey was not present and the document was signed by "Chas. Crosman his Attorney in fact."

Burt & Watson (1857-1858) - In 1857 John and William Burt, almost certainly with their father's help, were able to entice Thomas N. Watson, William Young's foreman at the the time and an excellent instrument maker, to move to Detroit and become a partner in the firm of Burt & Watson.  The earliest evidence of this move is an invoice dated June 20, 1857:  "Rec'd from W. A. Burt two Hundred dollars for one solar compass to be finished in one year. T. Watson."  This was probably money advanced by William A. Burt to Thomas Watson to help with moving expenses.  The firm is only listed in the 1857 directory.  On the death of William A. Burt the family lost interest in the business and on October 23, 1858 the Detroit Advertiser announced:  "Grant and Crosman have purchased the establishment of Burt & Watson, next door to the Advertiser's office, for manufacturing Burt's Solar Compass and Mathematical Instruments generally."  Thomas Watson is listed in the 1859 Detroit directory and does not reappear in the Philadelphia directories until 1861 suggesting that he left Detroit in 1860.

Grant & Crosman (1858-1861) - Both Charles Crosman and William Grant had been employed by Burt & Bailey and Burt & Watson as instrument makers.  The firm of Grant & Crosman is only listed in the 1861 Detroit directory.  However they seem to have been in business from 1858 through 1861 at the old location on Jefferson Avenue.  In 1862 Grant moved the business to 11 Woodbridge and changed the name to William C. Grant.  Charles Crosman appears to have left the firm at this time.  Grant continued at various addresses until 1873.



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