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City of Burrton

"One of the most enterprising towns on the mainline of the AT & SF Railway is the city of Burrton. With a population of 400 inhabitants and its well-earned reputation as a shipping point, Burrton has a bright future," it was said in 1 883. A primary shipping point between Newton and Hutchinson, it was also a connecting point as passengers waited to change trains. Some towns center around significant historical events the townsfolk share. Burrton developed around the quality and character of her people, our ancestors now largely forgotten but whose daily lives centered on their relationships and their commitments to build a strong community of family and friends alike.

The first settlers to the area south of Burrton came in March of 1871 and included James McMurray, James Patterson, & John Gorgas. Settling in what would become Burrton Township was John Blades and others who came in April of 1871. During this time it was said that, "everything west of Newton is savage territory, unfit for civilized man." Indians and buffalo still roamed these prairies, little more than a "wild sea of waving grasses" and only the hardiest pioneers could survive the hardships of this frontier life. Yet they came. It was more than a year later, in June of 1872, that the Santa Fe Railroad’s 700 track layers arrived in the area as they made the great push to the Colorado border. What is now town was still prairie land along the tracks over a year later, with the notable exception of a small store owned by Mr. J. H. Gresham on the east side of the town site. In June of 1873 a small area south of the tracks was selected as a town site by the Arkansas Valley Town Company. It was named "Burrton" in honor of Mr. Isaac T. Burr, the "gentlemanly & efficient railroad man" from Boston who was a stockholder and Vice President of the Santa Fe Railway at the time. The following month, a Post Office was established in Mr. Gresham’s store. With this, Burrton was born. A. W. Ballard built a blacksmith shop, which was the first building actually inside the Burrton town site. The next building was a general store built by John Hunt & Joel Moore. In October of 1873, Mr. Gresham moved his store west into the town site. On April 14, 1873, the first school district meeting was held in which David Hanselman was elected director, John Goodwine, clerk, and I. H. Haney, treasurer. The board called for an election to approve bonds for a school building. The election was held on April 29 at Leicester Day’s house, and bonds were approved. The wooden frame school building was built in the winter of 1873-74 for $1,200. J. G. Lane was the first teacher, followed by Mrs. Morrison. Among the first pupils were Estelle & Alva Haney, John & Birdie Gibson, Owen & Frank Goodwine, Charles & Lizzie Hanselman, John Hunt, Martha & Mina Baker, Clem & Laura Gibson, among others. The post office, which was established July 1, 1873 with J. J. Hunt as Postmaster, was first located in the store of J. H. Gresham, and on the completion of Hunt & Moore's store it was moved on the town site. Mr. Hunt officiated a Postmaster until December 24, 1879, when John Goodwine received the appointment. Money order No. 1, was purchased by C. P. Taylor, July 27, 1879. Still, nobody actually lived in Burrton proper until the spring of 1874, when Dr. J. L. McAtee built the first residence, followed by G. A. Thompson and J. E. Howard. A hotel was built by A. A. Woodruff in 1874 in the hotel later known as The Burrton House. That same year, Mr. Woodruff’s son, Bert, was born, the first child of Burrton. 1874 was the year of the great grasshopper plague and drought that brought great hardship to the pioneers who remained. The first death was R. Dunlap in the Spring of 1875. In 1877 the Burrton Mills were built. The town pump was located in the center of the intersection of Main & South Depot streets. This pump and watering trough was essential as horses were the main method of travel into town. Soon two hardware stores were opened, William F. Dunn & Company, and F. W. Cawkins & Company. J. H. Miles and C. A. Dean came to town and opened general stores on the east side of the street south of the tracks. Grocery stores were established by M. L. Sawyer, Welch & Stone, and W.H. & A. Wilson. Drug stores were owned by C. Rogers, C.H. Bates, and W.H. Wilson. Other early stores included Lumber companies, Livery stables, Millinery stores, and the harness shop. In the winter of 1877 the Burrton Mills, a three-story frame, was erected by a stock company. Six months later the mills passed into the hands of Kinney & Hubbard, who equipped the structure with three runs of buhrs and a forty horse-power engine. The mills then grew to have five run of buhrs, which gave it a capacity of 100 barrels daily. The private banking enterprise of G. A. Vanderveer was established July 8, 1881, and continued under his management until May 19, 1882, when J. E. Howard assumed its management, under the name of the Bank of Burrton. The first Newspaper was called The Burrton Telephone, established November 2, 1878, by J. A. Collister. Mr. Collister transferred his interest to A. C. Bowman, who in turn sold his interest to G. F. White, who run it until the spring of 1881, when Mr. White moved it to Halstead.

The Burrton Monitor was established and the first number issued May 20, 1881, by a stock company, G. Vanderveer, editor. For some time thereafter, there was quite a feud on the front pages of the Burrton Monitor and the (now) Halstead Telephone, each extolling why it was the best town with the brightest future and why the "other" town would never survive. In January of 1882, Miles Taylor assumed the editorial chair of the Monitor, and remained as editor in that capacity until January 1, 1883, when he purchased the paper. The Monitor was a seven column folio, was Independent in politics, and had an extensive circulation in Harvey, Sedgwick and Reno counties. The Monitor finally ceased publication some years later, run out by the Burrton Graphic, which was published in Burrton until the 1990's. Burrton was incorporated as a city on September 12, 1878 following the election of Mayor W. H. Kinney and Councilmen J. A. Moore, Joseph Jarret, H. C. Palmer, W. H. Riggs, and Thomas Praster. J. J. Hunt was elected as Police Judge, John Goodwine, Clerk, R. W. Weymouth, Treasurer, and J. L. McAtee, Marshall. The officers for 1882 were J. A. Moore, Mayor; W. L. Dailey, James Cross, Thomas Collins, A. G. Provine, and W. H. Wilson, Councilmen; A. Perry, Police Judge; Miles Taylor, Clerk; H. Emerson, Treasurer; and Charles Horn, Marshall. It wasn't until 1887 when some businesses started up on the north side of the tracks, the area that eventually became the main business district. These included harness shops, furniture stores, general merchandise stores, dry goods, confectionary, variety stores, jewelry store, bakeries, meat markets, and the creamery and produce. Several hotels were established. The Harvey House was located north of the depot, and burned down about 1895. Henry & Maggie Holzrichter owned a depot restaurant. The Hotel Baltimore was operated by Mrs. Hugh Mynett until 1925. The Radix house was near the railroad roundhouse, owned by Travis Brown.

The City Hotel was first owned by Hanston Osborne. Doctors included Dr. J. L. McAtee, Dr. Burris, J. W. Hempstid, Irl Hempstid, Newton Seehom, Joseph Myers, & E. W. Kappers. Bakeries were owned by Mrs. Mattie Paine and C.M. Childs. Mr. Childs baked large amounts of bread in the oven in the back of the bake shop. On March 2, 1910, a skating rink was opened "under the management of R.A. Mahoney and W. W. Jerome, with free skating matinee for ladies, which was largely attended and greatly enjoyed by the young ladies of Burrton. Mitch Brown is the instructor and does some fancy skating." The Burrton Opera House was known all over the country for the excellent stage plays presented. Large crowds climbed the long flight of wooden steps to see Grace George, The Georgia Troubadours, Monara Minstrels, and others, and to see plays such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin and East Lynn. Graduation exercises were held here, as well as Election Night Results from gatherings where updates were received by telegraph and then announced to the eager crowds.

For many years Burrton had a city band and concerts on the city square were a Saturday night event that people came in rigs and wagons from miles around to attend. Main street was crowded and rigs were tied everywhere. The Burrton Cornet Band was organized in October of 1882, with 16 members. W.H. Sheppard was the band leader, J.D. Sweeney was President, J.E. Gay, Treasurer, and Miles Taylor, Secretary. Tea parties were popular among the ladies in the early days of Burrton’s history. For younger folks, the big event of the week was going down to the train depot on Sunday afternoons to watch the trains come in and the people shuffle about. The Beau Mond Dancing Club was organized, and elaborate balls were held. Chautauqua programs were held under a large tent for a week at a time.

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