FLGenWeb Digital Library and Archives
BURGMAN, Charles F.
Author: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.II page 31, 1923
Presented by Nancy Rayburn
Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
II, page 5, 1923.
BURGMAN, CHARLES F., who for many years has been a successful business man and outstanding
figure in the civic affairs of Volusia County, was at one time one of the national leaders
and organizers of labor, and one of the founders of the American Federation of Labor. There
is probably no man in Florida more thoroughly informed as a scholar and student of the
labor movement in history than this Daytona real estate and insurance man.
The experiences of a very busy life have brought him an unusual understanding of national
and international conditions both in labor circles and business affairs at large. He was
born at Muenden, Hanover, Germany, July 21, 1853. His father was a military man and his
mother a daughter of a Lutheran minister. Mr. BURGMAN as a school boy took the keenest
interest in the subject of geography, history and music and these interests have been the
feature of his intellectual life. He was not of the wealthy class, and had after the
common schools to serve an apprenticeship for a practical trade. He learned the trade of
tailoring in one of the high class establishments of that kind in the City of Hamburg. In
March, 1872, being nineteen years of age, in order to escape the compulsory military service
of the German army, he went to London, where he found employment. While there he attended
many of the Socialist meetings held by followers of Carl Marx, and became somewhat indoctrinated
with the Marxian theories of internationalism. In September, 1873, he arrived in America,
in the midst of the great panic of that year, and in the face of unprecedented unemployment
conditions the new immigrant could find no work in his line or any other and he seized an
offered opportunity to enlist in the United States Army, being assigned to duty in Company L
of the Sixth U. S. Cavalry, stationed then at Fort Riley, Kansas. During the five years
he was in the army he participated in a number of the Indian campaigns, particularly in the
Miles expedition against the Cheyennes. The Sixth Cavalry was transferred to Arizona in
the summer of 1875.
For a time he was stationed at Fort Bowie, and from there he traveled over extensive portions
of the great Southwestern country and into parts of Mexico before the day of railroads. In
1878, on leaving the army, he built the first house and store at Dos Cabezos, Arizona, then
a newly opened mining camp, but sold this business in 1879 and went to the Pacific Coast.
Here again he worked for a time at the tailoring trade in San Francisco, and soon became
prominent in the organized labor movement as representative of the Tailors? Union.
In November, 1881, a great labor Congress assembled at Pittsburgh, including representatives
from all over the nation, and that Congress resulted in the organization of the American
Federation of Labor. The five members of the first Executive Board of that organization
were: RICHARD POWERS, president, who represented the Lake Seamen's Union of Chicago;
SAMUEL GOMPERS, first vice president and now president of the American Federation of Labor,
representing the Cigarmakers International Union of New York City; CHARLES F. BURGMAN,
second vice president, who represented the Pacific Coast Trade and Labor Unions through the
Trades Assembly of San Francisco; A. C. RANKIN, of the Coal Miners Union of the Monongahela
and Ohio valleys, who was elected treasurer; and W. H. FOSTER, of Cincinnati, secretary,
and representing the International Typographical Union. Mr. BURGMAN attended the Congress
for the special purpose of presenting data showing the influence of Chinese labor in the
Pacific States, and it is noteworthy that as a result of the presentation of this data and
the influence exerted by the American Federation of Labor the first Chinese exclusion act
was passed by Congress in 1882.
From 1882 to 1884 Mr. BURGMAN assisted in the publication of Truth, a labor paper at San
Francisco. He later established himself as a merchant tailor in that city for seven years,
but disliking close indoor confinement he sold out his business and then became state grand
secretary of the Improved Order of Redmen, and from 1893 to 1899 was in charge of Insignia,
the official paper of the Redmen?s organization for the Pacific Coast.
In 1898 Mr. BURGMAN with his wife, made his first visit to Florida and to Daytona to visit
his wife's mother, Mr. HELEN WILMANS POST. Soon afterward he took charge of Mrs. Post's
publication, Freedom at Seabreeze. This paper had a world-wide circulation, and was published
by Mrs. Post in the interests of mental science. The development and beautification of
Seabreeze, the building of the Colonnades Hotel, the old Clarendon Hotel and Hotel Princess
Issena are achievements that are largely due to Mrs. Post's influence and activity.
From 1903 to 1905 Mr. BURGMAN was in Philadelphia, and upon his return to Seabreeze associated
himself with his sons, JEROME A. and LEO C., in the job printing business, known as the
Peninsula Publishing Company, an establishment later transferred to Daytona and now conducted
under the name of Burgman Brothers, by JEROME BURGMAN, while LEO engaged in the tractor
business. Another son, CARL F., is a painter and decorator at Seabreeze. HELEN E., a
daughter, is the wife of B. B. BAGGETT, a prominent merchant of Daytona.
Mr. BURGMAN married in 1883 FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE BAKER, whose father was a California forty-
niner, and after his death his widow became the wife of Col. C. C. POST.
Since 1909 Mr. BURGMAN has been engaged in real estate and insurance, with his business now
permanently located in Daytona. His early religious affiliations was with the Lutheran Church.
He is a prominent member of the Daytona Chamber of Commerce, and during all the years of
his residence in Florida has devoted himself to many movements identified with the public
welfare. A few years ago he wrote a notable series of articles on the labor movement,
published in the Daytona Daily News. These articles betray his quality as a thinker, his
intimate knowledge of labor history and of European economic, industrial and political
history in general, and his comprehensive grasp of the tendencies of labor movement for
the welfare of society in general, and with a recognition of the errors and the limitations
of labor leaders, who in many cases, in Mr. BURGMAN?s judgment, have failed to exemplify
that broad and enlightened judgment which would have made it possible for such leaders
to turn their opportunities to the permanent advantage and welfare of labor in particular
and society in general.
In his advancing years and with his ripened judgment Mr. BURGMAN has turned his attention
to the advancement of the state and particularly that part of the state of Florida where
he has made his home during the past twenty-four years, feeling, as he expressed it, that
he who does all he can to advance his home town to that extent helps to advance the world.
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