Edwin Burkhart, sculptor of the Cardiff Giant

Edwin Burkhardt, Sculptor of the Cardiff Giant.

Karen Edwards sends me the following information about Edwin Burkhardt.[1]


It was my great great grandfather who carved the Cardiff Giant and here is
what my mother says about it: 

     ... my mother's grandfather, Edwin Burkhardt (1833-?), a German immigrant
who lived in Chicago, was a stone cutter (ususally sculpted angels for
tombstones). He was hired to carve the giant for someone in Maine. I don't
know if he was aware it was to be used as a fake human.  It was shipped by
train (not cart) to Maine [2], where it was buried on that farm for a year or
two, "to season it", according to what I know. EB died shortly after it
was shipped and he got no money for it. His widow had about 7 sons and a
daughter to support, and kept trying to get some of the Cardiff Giant
money, but in the end she got only $10. 

	My grandfather, William Burkart, was the "success" in the family,
becoming a dentist. He was terribly ashamed of his father for carving a
hoax, and mostly wouldn't talk about it. We learned that we weren't
supposed to ask. Back when my father met my mother, he [Edwin Burkhart]
said, "You are the son of the man who carved" etc, and WGB was very
embarrassed. Of course, everyone knew about it, but no one was supposed to
mention it.
...
 
Karen Edwards
In October 2008, I received an email note from Karen, along with this nice photo of Edward Burkhardt and his wife, Amelia. I had never supposed that a photo of him would turn up, since most accounts of the Cardiff Giant are silent or misleading about the giant's sculptor. But I'm the kind of person who likes to find out about neglected people in history.

I have more information on my great great grandfather.  I received this
photo from the older daughter of my grandmother's sister who is now 80 
and lives in Arizona.

The inscription on the back of one photo says, "Cardiff Giant carver", 
Edward Burkhardt "about 1860" and the 1st photo says Amelia Becker 
Burkhardt also taken "about 1860".


To repeat, he did not know he was carving a hoax.  He carved memorial 
stone work for cemetaries in Chicago where they lived after immigrating 
from germany.
My great grandfather and son of Edward was William G Burkhardt (Dadapaps born July 20, 1875). His older brothers told him stories of being in the workshop during the carving. According to my aunt "All Edward told his family was that two men hired him to make the thing and it then ended up in a sideshow. There were so many traveling shows in those days, He had a five of them, plus 2 sisters, and a couple of them wanted him to go into the stonecutting business with them. There were hard feelings about his refusal. Anyway, his brother Gustave was born in 1861 and Henry in 1863. The correct spelling of his father's name is Eduard Gustave Burkhardt, or at least that's how mother spelled it in her letters to me when she sent the birthdates etc, and she was a stickler for spelling. He was born in Germany 10/27/1833 and married Amelia Becker May 17, 1858, but mother didn't have his death date. About the brothers, the family owned the business and Paps was strong and had good hands so they thought he would be good at carving. He didn't want to be a laborer, which was how he saw it, and so worked his way through dental college. Sorry, all mother mentioned was that Eduard and Amelia were both born in Germany, but no town info. -Diane
karen

Footnotes.

[1] Some sources incorrectly give the name as Burnhart.

[2] The note mistakenly states that the Giant was shipped to Maine. People of that time who didn't travel far from home could easily confuse states that far away.

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