Micajah Currier Burleigh (1818 -1881), sea captain, industrialist, NH legislator, from History of Strafford County
Micajah Currier Burleigh was born in South Berwick, Me., June 15, 1818; died in Somersworth, March 7, 1881. He was a son of Hon. William Burleigh, M.C., and Deborah Currier, his wife; his father served three terms in Congress from the first district of Maine, and died when his son Micajah was nine years old. The son was educated in the common schools and at Strafford Academy and New London Academy, at which institution he was converted and joined the Baptist Church, of which he always remained a member. In the fullness of his years he gave this institution $2,000. For a few months, he studied law with his uncle, Hon. John A. Burleigh. Fourteen years he was a seafaring man, entering the service as a common sailor and rising to be captain in the last years. In that service of command of the ship and all in it Mr. Burleigh acquired a habit of "command" which lasted through life; he did not forget the bluff, hearty sailor ways in dealing with men in other callings of business, but he did not often displease by these characteristics.
On leaving the seafaring life he engaged in business in South Berwick in the store of Parks & Hains [Harris], general assortment of goods such as were in demand in a village store; he was all-round clerk for a while, then, having mastered the business, he became a partner in the firm for a year or two, then gave it up and became partner in the firm of W. & E. Griffin, iron founders, then running two small foundries on the Salmon Falls river, one at Salmon Falls, the other at Great Falls. In about three years, Mr. Burleigh obtained control of the whole business, the partners withdrawing. It was in 1848, when thirty years old, that he started in business for himself as an iron founder. In 1849 he procured an act of incorporation under the name of the Somersworth Machine Company and Mr. Oliver H. Lord became partner with him in the business. Mr. Burleigh was agent and Mr. Lord treasurer of the corporation. They met with great success and gather[ed] in the shekels hand over fist. This partnership continued until 1864, Burleigh and Lord holding their respective offices. In that year Mr. Lord purchased to Dover Iron Foundry and turned his attention more especially to it, and Mr. Burleigh alone was the executive head of the Somersworth concern, and he kept on doing big business just the same, devoting the best and most active years of his life to it; with it his name was inseparably connected, and from it he acquired a large property.
When Mr. Burleigh had got himself well established in business in Somersworth he began to take an interest in public affairs; having been a successful sea captain, he knew how to rule men in other ranks in life, and his fellow citizens placed confidence in him and he never betrayed them. In 1854 and 1855 they made him their Representative in the State Legislature. They made him State Senator in 1858 and 1859. In 1876 they made him a member of the Constitutional Convention. In all these he did good service on important committees; he was not a public speaker or debater. Up to 1860, when the Civil war began, he was known as Captain Burleigh. Governor Gilmore made him one of his staff officers with the rank of colonel, after that he was known as Colonel Burleigh and his fame was mighty among the men of Somersworth and Strafford county, New Hampshire, and York county, Maine. Colonel Burleigh had a commanding personal appearance; he was above the medium height, broad shouldered and deep chested, weighing when in health considerably over 200 pounds, but there was not slow about his; always erect, and usually agile in his carriage. He was one of the most efficient members of Gilmore's staff and was a tower of strength to the Governor in that distressing time of war. He had a large, massive head, features strong and regular, a clear blue eye, and a mass of dark, wavy hair in the prime of life, which in his old age had turned white and made him a marked man in all places where men assembled.
On December 9, 1847, he married Mary Francis Russell of Somersworth. They had a large family of children. Two sons graduated from Dartmouth College: William Russell, who was born in 1851, and graduate in 1872. His father was present at commencement and received the honorary degree of A.M. at the same time the son received the degree of A.B. The son studied law and commenced practice in Somersworth. He is now (1914) and has been for a number of years a lawyer in Manchester. The other son, Edward Stark, graduated from Dartmouth in 1878; studied law and for many years has practiced his profession in Florida, where he was obliged to go for his health.