Henry Burk
Henry Burk was a Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 and Philadelphia businessman.

Private life

Henry Burk was born in Knittlingen
Knittlingen is a town in the Enz district in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany.It lies at the eastern edge of the Kraichgau in the centre of a rectangle that is formed byHeidelberg, Karlsruhe, Heilbronn, and Stuttgart....

, Württemberg
Württemberg , formerly known as Wirtemberg or Wurtemberg, is an area and a former state in southwestern Germany, including parts of the regions Swabia and Franconia....

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, son of David and Charlotte Reinman Burk; Henry was the fourth child of eight. David, a shoemaker, made the decision to leave Germany because of unacceptable political views. The family emigrated to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1854 and settled in Philadelphia, PA. Henry attended school only a few years, but then began to work to help his family; he was reputed to have a natural engineering ability. He became a repairer of shoemaking
Shoemaking is the process of making footwear. Originally, shoes were made one at a time by hand. Traditional handicraft shoemaking has now been largely superseded in volume of shoes produced by industrial mass production of footwear, but not necessarily in quality, attention to detail, or...

 machinery and subsequently engaged in supplying this machinery to the trade. He was engaged in the manufacture of leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

 and in 1887 invented the alum
Alum is both a specific chemical compound and a class of chemical compounds. The specific compound is the hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate with the formula KAl2.12H2O. The wider class of compounds known as alums have the related empirical formula, AB2.12H2O.-Chemical properties:Alums are...

 and sumac
Sumac is any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae. Sumacs grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in Africa and North America....

Tanning is the making of leather from the skins of animals which does not easily decompose. Traditionally, tanning used tannin, an acidic chemical compound from which the tanning process draws its name . Coloring may occur during tanning...

 process, which revolutionized the tanning industry. The company he founded with his two brothers Alfred E. Burk and Charles D. Burk, Burk Brothers and Company, is now listed as a Registered Historic Place. He also helped to establish a meat packing company in Philadelphia with the same brothers and two others, William and Louis; this company was known variously as Burk Meats and Louis Burk & Co. ("Burk's Franks" were known throughout the Delaware Valley well into the 1950s). He became president of the Manufacturers’ National Association in 1895. He travelled around the world for his leather business, from Europe—visiting his birthplace in 1894—to India.


Burk married Ellen Carney (1851–1914) on August 18, 1873 in Philadelphia; they had six children: Mary, Charles Henry, Henry Jr., Helen, Gertrude, and Charlotte. Burk was grandfather to character actor Henry Burk Jones (1912–1999).


Burk was elected in 1901 as a Republican to the 57th Congress and served from March 4, 1901, until his death in Philadelphia.

During the time that Burk served in Congress, the Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

was raging in South Africa. Burk supported the Boers against the British. However, the United States sold the British preserved meat and hay, as well as mules and other supplies. Burk moved in the House that "mules, remounts, and other supplies be declared contraband", but by this time the war was practically over.
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