Descendents of town's founder

gathered for Burden centennial


     A float put together by Hayward Miles of Burden carried nine descendants of Robert F. and Marth Bacon Burden in Saturday's centennial parade there.

    The group of descendants included a granddaughter Florence Smith Grant of Winfield, and five great grandchildren, Robert R. Burden of Pueblo, Colo., J. Esli Burden of Pittsburg, Kan., Nita Burden Hearne of Latham, Ladybelle Savage Dobbs of Winfield and Mary Smith Bridges of Wichita.

    There were also three great-great grandchildren on the float, including Peggy Hearne of Latham, and Martha and Janet Burden of Pittsburg.

     Other descendants were unable to attend the celebration because of travel distance, according to Mrs. Grant.

History of Burden

     A centennial booklet published in connection with Burden's 100th birthday celebration under the leadership of Herbert and Margaret Pickens, with art work by Richard Van Sickle, was on sale Saturday for $1.00.

     The booklet contained an early history of Burden that relates how the building of the Kansas City, Lawrence and Southern Kansas railroad through southern Kansas in 1879-80 gave settlers hope of economic progress and an assured market for their livestock and crops.

     According to Burden residents, the settlements of Lazette, Torrance and Burdenville were all established in eastern Cowley County with idea the railroad would be built through their sites.

     Burdenville was actually founded in the fall of 1879, just before the railroad came through, on the site of an earlier 1871 settlement.

    That settlement was "surrounded by broad and fertile fields, green pastures flowing springs and running brooks," according to the booklet's historian.

     With the decision by the railroad to come through Burdenville, Lazette and Torrance suffered their death blows as communities.

     The Burden town company was organized Sept. 24, 1879, with the following directors elected to serve five years: 0. B. Gunn, J. Wade McDonald of Lawrence, Ran., J. M. Alexander, R. F. Burden, T. R. Johnson and W. P. Hackney of Winfield.

     Burden was elected president of the company and the town was named in his honor.

     The capital stock of the company was $4,000. It was divided into 200 shares.

     There were no buildings on the townsite with the exception of a deserted claim shanty which stood on what was later to become the main street.

     Once begun the town grew rapidly and the population was "more than 400" when on Feb, 6, 1883, Judge E, S. Torrance issued an order for its incorporation.

     On Feb. 27, 1883, the first election was held and R. R. Phillips was chosen mayor. Councilmen were H. P. Snow, H. W. Young, E. A. Henthorn, J. L. West and Thomas Dyer.

     Harvey Smith was police judge and H. N. Hulse city clerk and marshal.

     Population continued to increase and was listed soon as "one thousand and upward" as commercial buildings went up and churches, schools and lodges were organized.

     In just a few years there were drug stores, two or three hotels, blacksmith shops, lumber yards, livery stable and a variety of other businesses, according to the history.

     The first merchants of the town were Ford and Leonard who built the first store building of stone that stood on the southwest corner of the main square of the business district.

     William Leflingwell was one of the town's first grocers, but like Ford and Leonard has a migratory spirit and did not remain long in Burden.

     C. W. Jones moved his stock of general merchandise to Burden soon after the town was founded and in 1882 he formed a partnership with H. P. Snow from Kentucky. Together they erected a substantial stone building on the southeast corner of the main square.

     The upper floor was used for a public hall and later became the property of Clinton Lodge N. 233 A. F. & A. M.

     Dr. J. A. Chapman came to Burden from Lazette where he had opened his practice and purchased the building built by Ford and Leonard.

     Other early merchants included James H. Wood, Jesse L. West. Thomas Dyer, Joseph 0. Reed and his son, Ed, and Matt Cunningham and J. B. Williams. Most carried what was described as "a general line of merchandise."

     D. B. Cunningham was one of the early dealers in hardware and implements, and John M. Clover, who had homesteaded in Silver Creek Township in 1871, established an implement store in Burden soon after the townwas founded.

     J. M. Hooker and R. R. Phelps owned the first drug store in Burden and their establishment was the second store to be built in the town. J. M. Frazier became associated with them, eventually succeeding them with his brother-in-law and partner, J. M. Henderson, father of Ralph Henderson who today operates a drug store in the community.

     Thomas Walch, born in England was the first coffin maker, coming from Lazette where he located in 1872. James Cunningham became the first dealer in furniture and funeral supplies, followed by Hooker for a number of years.

     Hooker sold his business to Ray Denbo, the first licensed embalmer in Burden and owner of the first motor hearse. Denbo sold to E. L. Gann who served the community for years and then in 1948 sold his business to its present owner, Hayward M. Miles.

 Winfield Courier Oct. 10 1979


     Mr. Burden was born in 1832 in North Lewisburg, Champaign County, Ohio.  He was married October 18 1853 and then moved to Iowa.  He enlisted in the Civil War in 1862 as a volunteer and became a First Lieutenant in Company C, 33rd Infantry of Iowa.

     On September 21, 1871,  Robert F. and Martha Burden and their six children moved to Cowley Cowley and settled on the land which has since been known as the Burden Ranch.

     Mr. Burden was active in civic affairs, always taking a lead in things that helped to build up his community.  He served in several public offices,  among them being Cowley Commissioner, Mayor of the City of Burden, President of the Fair Association.  He helped to foster the Fair in its infancy. He also was active in establishing the library and lyceum course and all civic enterprizes.

     We are proud to honor the memory of Mr. R. F. Burden.


The "BURDEN" Chair
By: James Esli Burden

     This chair came to Kansas in the spring of 1871 when the Robert Fletcher Burden family and their 6 children migrated to Cowley county Kansas from Mahaska county Iowa. Tradition has it that the chair was made from a rail stolen from a fence in that community.  It seems that the carpenter who made the chair was always in need of good; wood for his projects so would remove a good rail from someone's fence when the opportunity present self. The chair was used by 5 generations of children from the Burden family.

     As family stories have filtered down through the several generations, My great grandfather was not a patient person. When he would return home late at night from his many cattle buying excursions, he would often fall over the little chair that some child had left in the middle of the floor.  As was his usual practice, he would go to the door and throw the chair as far as he could. Eventually one of the children would find the chair and bring it back to the house.

     When time came to load the wagons for the migration to Kansas, Great grandfather vowed that he had fallen over that chair for the last time and it was not going to Kansas.  As they were boarding the wagons, it was found there was no place for the youngest child "Lula" to ride. After much discussion, it was decided this little chair could sit on top of the grub box and Lula would have a place to ride.  Thankfully this has been a treasured item in the family for many years.



Esli Quincy Burden, son of R. F. Burden
Martha Saphrona Truesdell wife of E. Q. Burden
R. A. Burden
Tot Anderson Burden
Robert A. Burden and his Mother, Martha Saphrona Truesdell Burden at Burden Ranch
Tot Anderson Burden
J. L. Anderson father of Tot Anderson Burden, operated feed mill at Burden, Ks. 
Burden Ranch 1885-86
     Miles Smith, husband of Emma Burden Smith, Foster Smith, son of Miles and Emma   
Burden Smith (born March 16, 1884),  Emma Burden Smith, daughter of R. F. and Martha
Burden,  Lula Burden, daughter of R. F. and Martha Burden,  Martha and Robert F. Burden,
Charles T. Burden, son of Martha and R. F. Burden,
Holding horses from Left:  Esli Quency Burden   and  Orley Hensley, farm hand who
worked on farm for 30 years.
Burden Ranch 1885-86
     R. F. Burden holding Shorthorn bull and standing within a few yards of the spring which furnished water for the homestead and livestock and caused them to locate here.  They were understandably proud of the Shorthorn cattle and Percherson horses  they raised.    
     Stone for the fences was quarried on the farm. Cattle were grazed on open range at the time these pictures were taken.


Submitted by Mrs. J. E. Burden

     In September 1871. the Robert F. Burden family arrived in Cowley County, Kansas by covered Wagon from Mahaska County, Iowa and homesteaded 5 1/2 miles northeast of what is now the town of Burden. Those making the trip were parents: Robert Fletcher Burden (1832-1901). Mary Bacon Burden (1829-1907) and their children: Mary Jane (1854-1924) who married Marion Fletcher Spain, September 7, 1875 and had two sons, Clifford and Carrol; Emma Eliza (1857-1943) who married Miles Leroy Smith on September 10, 1882. Their children were Foster, James, Maurice and Florence. Esli Quincy (1859-1931) married Martha Sophronia Truesdell. September 15, 1889 and had one son, Robert Andrew; Martha Elizabeth (1861-1951) who married Charles A. Cunningham, November 1. 1885; Charles Thomas (1863-1939) married to Addison F. Smith on January 25, 1887 and had one daughter; Susannah Lulu (1866-1937).

     The homestead was chosen because of a natural spring of water located near the east boundary of the one-fourth section. The spring proved to be capable of supplying water for the home and several hundred head of livestock. A stone house was built over the spring and was a favorite place for visitors to get a drink of cool water.
     Fences were made of stone quarried on the farm. Much of the land used for cultivation was broken with teams of oxen. In later years several ox shoes were found and are still in possession of the family.
     As each of the children became old enough. they in turn homesteaded adjoining land. In addition, cattle were herded on the open range. As more land was purchased the farm grew to 1840 acres.
     After Mr. Burden's death the farm continued under the ownership of his son Esli Quincy and later of grandson Robert Andrew Burden, until it was sold in 1939.
     In 1879 a company was formed for the purpose of founding a town. R. F. Burden was elected president of the town company. Due to his efforts in procuring "right of way" for the new railroad, the town was named Burdenville in his honor.