Burkham, Charles (unknown–1837)

By: Christopher Long

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: February 28, 2020

Charles Burkham, pioneer Red River County settler, was born in Virginia before 1790. By 1804 he was living in Madison County, Kentucky, where he married Indiana native Nancy Ann Abbet on September 30. The couple had at least six children, including James Burkham. According to family legend, Burkham served in the War of 1812, though no record of his service has been found. In 1816 he moved with his wife, three oldest children, and several other families to Arkansas Territory, where he settled in the Red River Valley. In March 1820 the group crossed the river and founded a permanent settlement, known later as Burkham Settlement, on the mouth of Mill Creek near the present border of Red River and Bowie counties. Burkham was particularly interested in gaining title to his land and over the course of the next decade and a half negotiated with authorities in Miller County, Arkansas, and Mexico seeking clear title. In 1836 he and his son Ahijah joined Capt. Thomas Robbins's company of mounted riflemen. Burkham was murdered by a man named Page in the winter of 1837, while hunting for a runaway slave. Page thought the chains and hand irons in Burkham's saddlebag were gold.

Pat B. Clark, The History of Clarksville and Old Red River County (Dallas: Mathis, Van Nort, 1937). Claude V. Hall, "Early Days in Red River County," East Texas State Teachers College Bulletin 14 (June 1931). Red River Recollections (Clarksville, Texas: Red River County Historical Society, 1986). Rex W. Strickland, Anglo-American Activities in Northeastern Texas, 1803–1845 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1937). George Travis Wright Family Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Christopher Long, “Burkham, Charles,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/burkham-charles.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
February 28, 2020