William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 7] [part 5] [Cutler's History]


The act incorporating the Burlington Town Company was approved February 20, 1857. The corporators were O. E. Learnard, Charles Morse, J. A. D. Clark, T. T. Parsons and C. W. Southway. The first president of the company was C. W. Babcock, and the first secretary was B. W. Woodward, both of Lawrence. The father of Burlington was O. E. Learnard, a native of Burlington, Vt., in whose honor the town was named. In January, 1857, O. E. Learnard, F. A. Atherly, A. H. Vince, Edward Murdock, H. W. Watrous, John Bishop and others arrived. They were the first occupants of the town site. They boarded with Charles Morse, across the river, three miles distant. The first house on the town site was a combination of two small houses, procured at Hampden, and made into one for a provision store for James Jones, the first merchant. It was located east of the present "Central Hotel," about midway between that hotel and the river. The second building erected was a log house, built by Edward Murdock, and used by him for a wagon shop. The third building erected was the "Burlington Hotel," on the site of the "Morris House," built by F. A. Atherly, on contract with the Burlington Town Company, the lumber for which was rafted down the Neosho River, some thirty-five or forty miles. During the building of the hotel, in May, 1857, Rev. Peter Remer and family arrived. Mrs. Remer being the first woman that had ever appeared on the town site, she was greeted with cheers by the workmen at the hotel. The boys regarded her as the loveliest and handsomest lady they had ever beheld, though it is possible that her beauty was hardly comparable with that of Mrs. Langtry. Mr. Remer and his family located at Burlington, the ardent admirers of Mrs. Remer abandoning the work on the hotel until a house could be erected for the family. The "Burlington Hotel" was designed simply for a boarding house, and it was located near the river for the accommodation of the mill hands. When the time arrived for the erection of the hotel proper, it was intended that it should be located on the south side of Rock Creek, on the site now occupied by the office of S. A. Brown, and make that the nucleus for the town. The original town site consisted of 320 acres. In the spring of 1857, Dr. Samuel G. Howe, the Boston philanthropist and husband of Julia Ward Howe, located a Wyandotte "float," of 640 acres, adjoining the town site on the west. One-half of this "float" was surveyed into lots and became a part of the town. The other part of the "float" is still owned by the heirs of the deceased Dr. Howe. In the summer of 1857, Dr. Manson and Dr. Venard arrived and took claims near town. Dr. Manson erected an office for himself on Hudson street, a few rods east of what is now the Central Hotel. This was the next building erected after the hotel. The first landlord of the hotel was Francis Britton. In 1857 a bridge was constructed across the river, near the site of the present bridge, by the town company, but it was carried away by a freshet in 1859. The first steam saw mill in operation in the county was started at Burlington in the spring of 1857. It was removed from Hampden, to which place it had been sent by the Emigrant Aid Company. It could not be operated at Hampden for the want of water. George W. Stevens erected the first store building, in the summer of 1857. Orlando and Judson A. Walkling erected a storehouse about the same time, and opened therein a stock of general merchandise, August 7, 1857. The first celebration in Burlington of "the day that made us free," was July 4, 1857. William B. Parsons was the orator. In March, 1859, the town site was pre-empted by B. L. Kingsbury, Probate Judge.

During the war period Burlington was at a standstill. A large proportion of the voting population of the town and county had gone into the Union army, and no new settlers came into the county. The darkest day the town ever experienced was on the 19th of May, 1863, when the county seat was removed to Hampden, by such an overwhelming majority, it looked as though the people of the county were determined to crush Burlington, and her people were about ready to throw up the sponge. The next day S. S. Prouty, who was then at home, temporarily absent from the army, said he would put up $500 for the purpose of erecting a building for a woolen carding mill and purchasing the machinery necessary to put it in operation. This gave renewed hope to the struggling town and convinced her enemies that Burlington was not yet ready to die. The carding mill finally developed into a large woolen factory, and a cotten (sic) gin was added to it. Connected with the factory were F. A. Atherly, Levi P. Heddens, Henry W. Atherly, and James Davidson. Cotton growing was attracting some attention in the county at that time. Orsen Peck, a farmer on North Big Creek, realized $800 for his crop in 1864, and 18,000 pounds of lint were ginned at the Burlington factory in 1865. In 1869, the Excelsior Water Mill was built by Cross & Sons, at a cost of $55,000, including dam and races. In September, 1875, Hon. William Martindale purchased the property and still owns it. The Burlington steam mill was completed in 1870 at a cost of $16,000; the Burlington schoolhouse was completed in 1873 at a cost of $28,000. The first bank in the county was organized under the name of Jarboe, Garretson & Co., and began business April 16, 1870. The firm consisted of H. L. Jarboe, N. P. Garretson, D. W. Stormont, and M. Bailey, the latter two of Topeka. The bank was conducted under the management of N. P. Garretson, until it was reorganized as the Burlington National Bank April 29, 1872, with a capital of $50,000; H. L. Jarboe, president, N. P. Garretson, cashier. Burlington has steadily prospered and grown since the completion of the railroad to the town in 1870. It now has a population of about 2,500, and nearly every branch of business is represented there.


In September, 1859, S. S. Prouty arrived in Coffey County with his family and a printing press, arrangements having previously been made with citizens of Burlington for his establishment at that place. In consideration of the publication by him of a newspaper in Burlington one year, he was to have twenty- five average town lots, a guaranty of 300 subscribers at $2.00 per subscription, and house and office rent free for one year. The houses were to be ready for him by the 1st of September. He arrived on the 6th of that month, from Prairie City, where he had previously lived and published the Freemen's Champion. The houses were not ready for him when he arrived, nor had the first steps been taken toward securing any. He was told that he could deposit his goods temporarily in the first story of a little building which is now a portion of the Central Hotel, on the northeast corner of Third and Hudson streets. The first story was vacant, but the family of Mr. Slayton occupied the second story. While Mr. Prouty was in the act of storing his goods in the unoccupied room, Mr. Slayton appeared and ordered Mr. Prouty to move on, as the building was, as Mr. Slayton said, under his charge. Mr. Prouty commanded his oxen to be yoked to his two wagons, and gave directions to move out on the prairie and camp south of town. It was then his intention to go to Le Roy and establish his paper there, as liberal inducements had been offered him, by citizens of that place, to make Le Roy his home. About this time, George W. Stevens appeared, and hearing of Slayton's treatment, offered Mr. Prouty a refuge in his building, which offer was accepted. Had it not been for the timely appearance of Mr. Stevens, Mr. Prouty would soon have been in camp, and all the money in Burlington would not have induced him to return to that place. Mr. Prouty's goods were stored in the first story of Mr. Stevens' building, which was neither plastered nor lathed. A flag was stretched across the room, in front of which was put up the printing press. In the rear lived his family. In this room, on the 4th of October, 1859, appeared the first number of the Neosho Valley Register, the first paper printed in Burlington. October 4, 1859, was also the day when the present constitution of the State of Kansas was adopted by a vote of the people. The press on which this paper was printed was brought to Kansas in 1834, by Rev. J. Meeker, a Baptist missionary among the Ottawa Indians. Mr. Prouty published the Register until December, 1862, when, being then First Lieutenant and Quartermaster of the First Indian Regiment, he leased the office to I. E. Olney for one year. At the expiration of Mr. Olney's lease, the paper again appeared with Mr. Prouty's name as publisher, H. N. Bent being the editor. In March, 1864, William Payne leased the office, and about a month afterward bought the office of Mr. Prouty, the latter being still in the army. Mr. Payne died in July following, and the office then fell into the hands of Silas Fearl, who discontinued the paper. September 3, 1864, S. S. Prouty commenced the publication of the Kansas Patriot, at Burlington, and continued to publish it until April 15, 1869, when he sold the office to J. F. Cummings, and removed to Topeka, to discharge the duties of the office of State Printer, to which he had been elected by the Legislature of the previous winter. May 29, 1869, Mr. Cummings sold the Patriot to A. D. Brown, who has continued its publication ever since. January 1, 1870, Mr. Brown changed its name to The Burlington Patriot. May 5, 1874, Peter Bell commenced the publication of the Voice of the People, which only lived until the following November. It advocated J. C. Cusey for Governor and J. K. Hudson for Congress, and then gave up the ghost. February 11, 1875, the first number of The Independent appeared in Burlington, with the name of A. H. Smith as editor and publisher. June 29, 1877, B. F. Smythe bought out Mr. Smith, and published the paper until October 19, 1877, when he sold a half interest to John E. Watrous. June 7, 1878, Mr. Smythe sold his interest to LeRoy Armstrong, when the firm name became Armstrong & Watrous. Mr. Armstrong retired from the paper July 16, 1880, since which time it has been owned and published solely by John E. Watrous. Previous to the date of the retirement of Mr. Armstrong, the politics of the paper had always been independent. Since it has been under the sole management of Mr. Watrous, the paper has been Democratic. The politics of the Neosho Valley Register was Republican, that of the Voice of the People Reform, and the Patriot has always been Republican. The Burlington Republican was started January 4, 1882, by George Sweesy and W. S. Hebron, under the firm name of Hebron & Sweesy. After a few weeks, Mr. Sweesy retired, and Mr. Hebron has since been sole proprietor and editor. Republican in politics.


Church of the Ascension. -- (Protestant Episcopal), Burlington. Organized December 8, 1862, under the name of St. Andrew's Church, by Rev. W. H. Hickcox, Deacon. Corporators: Orlando Walkling, Silas Fearl, John Whistler, H. N. Bent, S. R. Harrington, M. E. Grimes, S. S. Prouty, B. L. Kingsbury, Orson Kent, D. P. Metcalf, J. A. Walkling. At a meeting of the corporators December 11, 1862, Vestrymen were elected as follows: Orlando Walkling, D. P. Metcalf, (wardens). Silas Fearl, H. N. Bent, John Whistler, J. A. Walkling, and S. R. Harrington. September 9, 1863. Mr. Hickcox was admitted to priest's orders, and on the same day he was unanimously elected rector of the church. The name of the church was changed to Church of the Ascension in 1871. The church edifice was erected in 1866, at a cost of $3,000. The fence enclosing the churchyard was constructed by Mrs. S. S. Prouty and Mrs. George H. Carpenter, the labor being performed by their own hands, and the money to purchase the lumber having been obtained from the proceeds of a church festival. The evergreens in the yard were procured by Mrs. Prouty and set out by her own hands. Name of present Rector, Rev. Joseph Wayne. Number of communicants, forth-nine.

Congregational Church of Christ, Burlington. -- Organized November 25, 2868. Incorporated April 2, 1869. First Pastor, Rev. J. M. McLain. First services held in the Episcopal church and town hall. Church edifice, erected in the fall of 1879, of wood. Value of church property, $3,000. Present Pastor, Rev. Joel Harper. Number of members, fifty-two.

Methodist Episcopal Church of Burlington. -- Organized in July, 1857, by Rev. M. Fennimore, with seven members. Present membership, 190. Value of church edifice, $5,000. Value of parsonage, $1,000. Present Pastor, Rev. J. A. Hyden.

First Presbyterian Church of Burlington. -- First Presbyterian Church of Burlington. -- Organized June 26, 1870, by Rev. R. M. Overstreet, with a membership of seven. Chartered September 30, 1870. First pastor, Rev. S. G. Fisher. Present Pastor, Rev. J. H. Ralston. Number of members since organization, eight-eight. Present number of members, sixty-one. Frame church building erected during the summer of 1881 at a cost of $3,500. Cleared from debt and dedicated June 11, 1882.

St. Francis Xavier Church (Catholic) of Burlington. -- Organized in the spring of 1871, by Rev. Father Francis Heller. Present Pastor, Rev. Father Angelus Havepeter. Present membership about fifty families. Value of church property, $2,500.

The Baptist Church at Burlington was organized about the year 1861, by Rev. J. B. Taylor. It has a church edifice, costing about $2,000, which was erected through the efforts of the venerable Rev. H. K. Stimson, aged nearly eighty years, who is the Peter Cartwright of the Baptist Church. He still lives at Burlington and occasionally preaches.

There is a Christian Church at Burlington which has an edifice worth about $1,200.

Burlington Lodge, No. 66, A. F. & A. M. -- Organized under dispensation December 27, 1866, with officers as follows: George H. Carpenter, W. M.; W. F. M. McAllister, S. W.; Silas Fearl, J. W.; J. A. Walkling, S. D.; Peter Brandon, J. D.; S. S. Prouty, treasurer; J. M. Lane, secretary; M. Fraker, tyler. Lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Kansas October 21, 1868, and the first officers under the charter were as follows: S. J. Carter, W. M.; S. S. Prouty, S. W.; W. J. Sanders, J. W.; H. L. Jarboe, treasurer; C. B. Graves, secretary; George H. Carpenter, S. D.; Orson Kent, S. D. The officers elected December 27, 1881, were as follows: R. P. Douglass, W. M.; Thomas Cross, S. W.; W. Buck, J. W.; D. Eppinger, treasurer; J. A. King, secretary; T. J. Adair, S. D.; L. E. Steele, J. D.; William Heim, S. S.; C. H. Smith, J. S.; William Wigston, chaplain; A. W. Maxwell, tyler. Number of members, sixty.

Burlington Lodge, No. 29, I. O. O. F. -- Chartered October 11, 1867, with the following members: William H. Hickcox, W. A. Adair, T. J. Adair, J. M. White, P. W. Lamb. Present officers: S. S. Brandon, N. G.; F. P. Wells, V. G.; O. E. Sandford, treasurer; G. N. Sanford, secretary; R. H. Adair, district deputy; William Davidson, sitting P. G.; C. O. Brown, Rep. Number of members October 16, 1882, sixty- three.

Knights of Pythias, (Burlington) -- Organized October 27, 1882, with thirty members. First officers: G. C. Nichols, C. C.; A. C. Sims, P. C.; R. C. Dunkin, V. C.; W. J. La Rue, Jr., K. of R. and S.; D. V. Mott, M. of E.; A. Peasley, M. of F.; I. E. Brandon, M. and A.; R. S. Harris, I. G.; James Metzler, O. G.

[TOC] [part 7] [part 5] [Cutler's History]