Burdell Murder - 3

Murder in NYC: Dr. Harvey Burdell

Harvey Burdell was born in 1811. As a young man he first obtained employment  as a compositor and later took up the study of dentistry in his brother John’s office in New York. After mastering the profession he opened his own office adjacent to his brother’s.

Mysterious Murder – Eminent Citizen Assassinated

Dr. Burdell as he appeared in his casket

Dr. Burdell as he appeared in his casket

The terrible tragedy which involved the death of Dr. Burdell has filled the city with alarm and developed a phase of city life more appalling, perhaps, than any previous chapter which has been unfolded to the terrified gaze of our citizens. Dr. Burdell was a gentleman of quiet manners, paid strict attention to his business, and was altogether before the world one of our most respectable citizens, a wealthy, substantial and successful man. We are informed that he was born in Jefferson county, in the State of New York, and was at the time of his death about forty-six years of age.

He has resided, with the exception of a few years, when he was a student in the Pennsylvania Medical College, almost exclusively in this city since he was twelve years old. By the practice of dentistry and other means he worked his way through college, and graduated in medicine when about twenty-one years of age. As soon as he was through his collegiate course of studies he returned to this city and began to practice dentistry with his brother, John Burdell.

Their office was situated at the corner of Chambers street and Broadway, where Stewart’s store now stands. Harvey Burdell remained there with his brother for a number of years, doing a fair business, when a dispute arose between them about some private affairs, on account of which Harvey Burdell removed to the corner of Duane street and Broadway; he conducted his office there for several months and again moved, locating his office at No. 362 Broadway, corner of Franklin street; there he remained seven years, having extensive practice and doing a lucrative business.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.
It was there he made the most of his money; soon after he had established himself at 362 Broadway, he made up with his brother John, who went up and did business with him at the office aforesaid for a short time, when again there was a misunderstanding between them about some domestic matters; John Burdell then removed to Union place, at the corner of Fourteenth street and Union square, where he remained till 1851, when he died; in 1853 Dr. Harvey Burdell purchased the house No. 31 Bond street, moved into it in May o that year, and has resided there ever since; there were five sons in the Burdell family, John and Harvey, dentists, of this city, now both dead; their parents are also dead: there is one brother living in Ohio; another, who formerly lived in Michigan, is now in Indiana; the fifth, formerly of Valparaiso, was not long since in this city.

Dr. Burdell's Heart, Showing the Two Wounds

Dr. Burdell’s Heart, Showing the Two Wounds

Dr. Harvey Burdell has held several positions of honor and respectability in his profession. He was honorary member of the Philadelphia Medical Society, member of the Medical Society of the city and county of New York, member of the New York Historical and Statistical Society, also a director of the Artizans’ Bank of New York. He was a prominent member of the dental profession, and was one of the chief parties in getting up the dental conventions that have been held in this city and Philadelphia of late years. Nor has he been unknown in the field of dental literature. As early as 1838 he published, in connection with his brother John, a rather elaborate work entitled “Observations on the Structure, Physiology, Anatomy and Diseases of the Teeth.” This book was printed by Scetched & Adams, of No. 38 Gold street. We believe that it was this same Adams, the printer of Dr. Harvey Burdell’s book of the above title, who was murdered by John C. Colt in the house situated at the corner of Chambers street and Broadway, now occupied by Delmonico.

Harvey Burdell exerted a prominent influence and was one of the principal parties in getting up the Artizans’ Bank in this city. He was a stockholder in it to the amount of $25,000; he he owned the house and lot No. 31 Bond street, worth $25,000; the house and lot No. 2 Bond street, worth $30,000; property in Shrewsbury, N. J., and real estate in Herkimer county, New York, and other property, so that he was worth at least $100,000. He came to this city a penniless youth by his own energy and perseverance acquired his education, profession and wealth.

Source: Frank Leslies Weekly, February 21, 1857

An excellent report on the whole case is at The Murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell by the devious Emma Cunningham, 1857.

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