Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BURT, William A., surveyor, born in Worcester, Massachusetts, 13 June, 1792; died 18 August, 1858. He received a good education, was for some years an engineer in Erie County, New York, settled near Detroit, Michigan, in 1824, and served several terms in the territorial council. He became United States deputy surveyor, and in 1840-'7 surveyed northern Michigan. He originated the idea of the solar compass, and was awarded a prize medal for it in 1851 at the London industrial exhibition. He also introduced important improvements in geological surveying: and in 1856 patented an equatorial sextant, but died before bringing it to perfection, He was a judge of the Michigan circuit court and member of the legislature for several terms, and was chief mover in the construction of the Saute Ste. Marie canal.
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