Introduction

“Tell my story”

From the first moment I saw — even held in my hands — a letter written by Federal Burt in 1827, I have been compelled to try to tell his story. Many of the words that comprise the story on these pages are not mine, but those of people who knew Federal Burt — family, friends, colleagues. Yet throughout, I felt him calling to me, “Tell my story.” So it is both appropriate and humbling to introduce my efforts with this excerpt from the sermon preached at Federal Burt’s funeral by his fellow Congregational minister, Jonathan French.

While I present, on this occasion, a few facts relative to his history, and a few faint lineaments of his character, I am aware that the representation will be very imperfect. I console myself with the reflection, that his worth was so well-known to those whom I address, that his memory cannot suffer, by the deficiencies of the brief sketch to be exhibited. I hope, also, that someone, who may be able to avail himself of more information that I possess, and who has more skill in describing, will, in due time, present the public with a suitable memoir of one so worthy to be held in remembrance.

Resting place of Federal Burt and Mary Pickering Burt; Durham, New Hampshire. “Old letters are golden links in the mystic chain that binds us to the past; precious mementos serving to remind us of the scenes and associations of other days. Especially is this true when the writer sleeps in the quiet stillness of the church-yard, while the little grassy hillock marks the place of his sweet repose.” B. F. Brewington, 1862 Ladies Repository
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