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Charles Burgess was born in Pelsall, England, on October 2, 1841.
His early working life was spent in iron and steel works in and near Sheffield. At the age of 24 he emigrated to the USA in 1866. He first worked at Troy, New York, engaged at the Bessemer Steel Works, and was also employed in making special iron.
He then moved to an iron and steel mill in Pittsburgh. He rented a forge, and began experimenting in steel production. After 3 years he returned to England for several months. On his return to the USA, he approached John R. Williams of the Ironton Rolling Mill and demonstrated a new method of producing steel through the iron puddling process. His products received the highest award at the Cincinnati Exposition.
During his stay at Ironton he married Charlotte Moreland of Detroit, Michigan, another English immigrant. He soon sold the rights to manufacture and sell his iron and steel to the company for whom he had worked, and went to England for a period of about four months. He then returned to Ironton, and joined a partnership to manufacture iron and steel under his direction. He was made the general superintendent and a director. The works, which were at Portsmouth, Ohio, were named the Burgess Steel and Iron Works. His products were highly regarded.
After about two years he sold his rights to the company, and returned to England because of his father’s ill health, and stayed for five years until his father’s death. Then he returned to the United States and engaged with the Cleveland Rolling Mill Company. He had charge of one of the company's departments, producing his specialties in iron and steel for five years. He left there and went to Titusville in 1884, and with others he began to manufacture iron and tool steel. There he became general manager and superintendent, with a one quarter interest in the plant assigned to him. The works were operated about a year and a half under the name Burgess, Garrett & Company. Charles Burgess then bought out the interest of his partners, founding the Cyclops Steel Works.
1873 Patent US 141320, Charles Burgess of Portsmouth, Ohio: Improvement in the manufacture of steel.