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Alexander L. Burnett was born in Arkansas or Mississippi in 1858. He was educated at Branch Normal College in Pine Bluff and received his legal training at Central Law School in Nashville, Tennessee, apparently returning to practice in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Arkansas, in 1886.
Burnett was mentioned as a practicing attorney in an 1891 newspaper column, although he was not listed as an attorney in the Pine Bluff city directory until 1903. No record of admission before the state supreme court was located, and his name does not appear in any appellate cases. He was appointed U.S. Commissioner for the Post Office in the Western Division of the Eastern District of Arkansas about 1894 and retained that post until his death. In 1901, he was a member of the Wonder State Bar Association, a Black lawyers group.
He was married about 1899 to Laura G., a public school teacher, who was born in Mississippi in February 1858. They lived in a rented home. By 1910, they had a child Sarah D., born about 1903. At that time, they resided with an aunt, Sarah J. Middlebrooks, in her home. Burnett died in Pine Bluff on May 26, 1928.
Sources: Judith Kilpatrick, “(EXTRA)Ordinary Men: African-American Lawyers and Civil Rights in Arkansas Before 1950,” 53 Ark. Law Rev. 299, 302 n6, 307, 331, 332, 339, 345 n341, 373, 380 n626, 394 (2000); “Colored Section,” Henderson’s Illustrated Industrial Souvenir (1906); The Colored Lawyers, Arkansas Gazette, 7/31/1901; 1900 U.S. Census for Arkansas; 1910 U.S. Census for Arkansas; Papers of the NAACP, Membership Report Blank, PB, 1928-1929, Part I, G13, Branch Files.
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