Alabama Auditors

Malcolm C. Burke

State Auditor: 1884-1888


Malcom Clayton Burke, editor, public official, was born July 14, 1836, at Tuscaloosa; son of Thomas Jefferson and Frances (Owen) Burke; grandson of Miles Burke. His father was born in Ireland, February 16, 1813, came to America and settled in Tuscaloosa as a lawyer. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Seminole War, became cashier of the state bank and editor of the Tuscaloosa Monitor. He died November 24, 1857.


Major Burke was graduated from the University of Alabama, and was an assistant professor on the faculty at the outbreak of the War of Secession. He enlisted in the C. S. Army, December 1862, as a first lieutenant of artillery, was examined by the authorized board for ordnance duty, was commissioned and assigned to duty at Fort Morgan. In 1863, he was assigned to the staff of General James Cantey as ordnance officer; went with Cantey's brigade to Johnston's army in northern Georgia and served through that campaign as first lieutenant of ordnance and brigade ordnance officer.


At the close of the war, Maj. Burke returned to Tuscaloosa County, farmed for one year; then moved to a farm in Marengo County for three years. In 1872, at Demopolis, he started the Marengo News, erecting it upon the plant of an old and defunct paper. He conducted the News for twelve years and during the period of Reconstruction, established it as the opponent of radical rule. He was appointed superintendent of education of Marengo County, 1872, held the office for eighteen months, and then resigned. He served as mayor of Demopolis from 1881 until 1884, and in the latter year was elected auditor of the state. He was re-elected in 1886 and served until 1888. His connection with the Marengo News ceased upon his election to the auditorship.


During his administration of the auditor's office, Maj. Burke received the notice of the leading press of almost every state in the Union. In 1884, the first year of his incumbency, the delinquent tax at the end of the tax year amounted to but twenty-five hundred dollars, and at the end of the tax year for 1885, there was only due his office from the entire state, forty-nine dollars seventy-six cents. This fact was commented upon as being without precedent in the history of any state in the Union. The delinquent tax due the office when he took charge of it, aggregated thirty thousand dollars, and in 1881, the books show there was over one hundred thopusand dollars delinquent, with an average for the twenty years preceding his election, of fifty thousand dollars delinquent tax.


On the expiration of his term as auditor, Maj. Burke became claim agent for the L & N Railroad. Married: December 7, 1865, at Tuscaloosa, Annie Ida Inge, daughter of Robert S. and Agatha (Marr) Inge of Tuscaloosa. She died April 11, 1887. Children: one daughter and four sons, one of whom is Edward Clarke, b. September 9, 1874, a freight clerk of Montgomery, and another is Malcom Clayton, Jr. Residence: Tuscaloosa.


Thomas McAdory Owen. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. (Spartanburg: The Reprint Company Publishers, 1978, reprint 1921), iii, 260.