Burges, R. F. (Richard Fenner), 1873-1945

Alternative names
Birth 1873
Death 1945-01-13

Biographical notes:

Lawyer, soldier, politician, and conservationist Richard Fenner Burges (1873-1945), the son of Bettie Rust and William H. Burges, was born in Seguin, Texas. He attended Texas A&M University for one year and was admitted to the bar in 1894 after reading law in the offices of his father in El Paso and J. D. Guinn in New Braunfels. In 1898, he married Ethel Petrie Shelton, with whom he had a daughter. Burges served as El Paso city attorney and wrote the charter for the establishment of commission city government in El Paso (1907). A year later, he represented Texas at President Theodore Roosevelt's conference of governors and served as a member of the Texas House in the Thirty-third and Thirty-fourth legislatures (1913–15). In 1917, Burges commanded a battalion in the battle of the Argonne and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for distinguished service. Later, Burges was special counsel for the Texas-Rio Grande Compact Commission and from 1935 to 1940 was a special attorney for the United States Department of Justice.

A leader in water conservation in both Texas ad New Mexico, Burges was associate counsel in the Chamizal dispute with Mexico (1910-1911), president of the International Irrigation Congress (1915-1916), counsel for the El Paso County Water Improvement District, and attorney for Texas in negotiations with New Mexico over the division of Pecos River waters. Burges was also president of the Texas Forestry Association (1921-1923), belonged to the American Forestry Association, was a board member of the El Paso Public Library, the Texas State Historical Association, and the Texas History and Library Commission.

Source: “Burges, Richard Fenner.” Handbook of Texas Online . Published by the Texas State Historical Association. Accessed October 10, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbu28.

From the guide to the Richard Fenner Burges Papers 45-22., 1897-1940, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin)


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  • National parks and reserves--United States
  • Reservoirs
  • Forests and forestry
  • National parks and reserves
  • Politics, Practical--Texas--History--20th century
  • Military training camp--Photographs
  • Military training camps--Texas--Photographs
  • Legislators--Texas--History--20th century
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • Conservation of natural resources
  • Political campaigns--Texas--History--20th century
  • Irrigation--Texas
  • Reclamation of land
  • Conservation of natural resources--Texas
  • Reclamation of land--Texas
  • Irrigation
  • Women--Education
  • Reservoirs--Texas


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  • United States (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Rio Grande. (as recorded)
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • Rio Grande (Colo.-Mexico and Tex.) (as recorded)
  • El Chamizal (Mexico and Tex.) (as recorded)
  • El Chamizal (Mexico and Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Elephant Butte Reservoir (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • El Paso (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Mexico (as recorded)
  • Elephant Butte Reservoir (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Mexico (as recorded)
  • El Paso (Tex.) (as recorded)