- making genealogy simpler; a free genealogy surname research tool that reaches for data from all over.

A History of Burlingame
by Frank M. Stahl - -

The Burlingame Enterprise
Osage County
Published Thursday, March 26, 1931

    The first settlements in or near the present city of Burlingame were made in 1854. At that time Kansas was noted mostly as being part of the Great American Desert. The first settlers took claims aong the streams with an eye for timber and water, the common belief being that prairies would be a common grazing ground for cattle and horses for all time to come. The frontier settlements were at Council Grove, the last town on the Old Santa Fe Trail in which to get supplies for the long trip to New Mexico. The great Santa Fe trail taht started at Independence, Missouri and went diagonally through Kansas on it's way to Mexico was the only real road in Kansas. There were no fences and no other definitely defined highways. What is now Osage county was organized first as Weller county but preceeding that a part of the Osage county of today was Shawnee county. The souther boundary was two miles south of Burlingame and the northern boundary, the Kansas river. Later Burlingame and Topeka joined hands and cut off some ten miles of southern Shawnee county and added it to what is now Osage county, extending Shawnee county a number of miles north of the Kansas river. The object was to make both Topeka and Burlingame eligible to be county seats. And their plans worked. Auburn which had been the central town in Shawnee county was sacrificed and both Burlingame and Topeka became county seat towns.

     The first attempt to lay out a town was made in 1854. It was east of Switzler creek where a plot three miles square was patted and called Eureka. A little later, the town was abandoned and a new town started west of the creek and called Council City. This name was retained until 1857 when Anson Burlingame, a noted diplomat on a tour through Kansas stopped here and made a patriotic free state speech. It so interested the settlers that they called a meeting and changed the name of the town from Council City to Burlingame. Mr. Burlingame was at one time consul to Russia and died in St. Petersburg, Russia. The early settlers had the usual experience of pioneers and in addition they had to face serious local troubles. The Territory was in a ferment. The early settlers were mostly anti-slavery, while nonresidents form slave-holding states were coming across the border determined to make Kansas a slave state. The conflict was bitter and often blood was shed. Up to the beginning of the Civil War, border ruffians continued to come over into Kansas, taking possession of the polls and casting a lot of illegal votes with the one purpose of making Kansas a slave state. On at least two occasions, the polls were forcibly taken from Burlingame voters. The early real pioneers at or near Burlingame were Free State Men and loyal to the core. When Lawrence was in danger from a band of ruffians at Franklin, a short distance south of Lawrence, Robinson and Lane issued a call for help and Burlingame responded immediately. runners were sent up and down the streams and in less than 12 hours, the recruits were ready to march. A man named Todd was chosen captain. Any weapon available was used for arms. A goodly number carried "Beecher Bibles" otherwise known as Sharpe's rifles. They took two wagons drawn by horses to carry food and baggage and walked all the way to Lawrence--45 miles--getting there in the afternoon. There was a big crowd assembled at the Free State Hotel where Governor Shannon was speaking. Jim Lane saw the Burlingame contingent as they came in, halted the speaking and proposed three cheers for the new arrivals which were given with a will. They were well cared for and given a good place with hay covered floors on which to sleep. A truce was agreed upon and they returned to Burlingame after having been gone for 16 days. This incident shows of what kind the early pioneers were. The names of the entire company are available and some of these are well known in Osage county. Like all new settlements, there was a first resident. Here, the first white man to stake a claim was John Freele who came in June 1854. He bought a cabin from a Shawnee Indian who lived near the "Polley Spring." In the following July, came one I.B. Titus who built a cabin near the point where the Santa Fe Trail crossed Switzler Creek. During the summer of 1855, 47 settlers came to Burlingame. Nearly all had families and all were Free Staters who had come to make a permanent home. Among them were some whose names are held in high estimation--Sheldon, Leonard, Wheat, Bratton, Bush and Lord. During the same year, a council house was built on the site of the old F.C. Brackney property, now owned by E.G. Spalding. The first election was held in the home of I.B. Titus--a pro-slavery man and he and his kin took possession of the polls and had things their own way. The first white child born here was a boy at the Freele home in the winter of 1854-55. The first white girl was Emma Bratton, born June 29, 1855. The first postmaster was Loton Smith for whom James Bothel served as deputy. The office was located in a store kept by Samuel Allison located near the "Polley Spring." Miss Louisa Todd taught the first school in a tent near the council house. During the summer of 1855, a Rev. John Lowry, sent here by the American Missionary Association preached at the homes of the different settlers. Later, another preacher by the name of Henry Morrell, sent by the same society, preached in the council house. In 1855, a man named James A. Winchell arrived and built a little saw mill at the junction  of Switzler and Dragoon Creeks. The first Fourth of July celebration was held on the Dragoon, southwest of Burlingame, at the site of the present county farm. The principal speakers were Loton Smith, P.C. Schuyler and J.M. Winchell. An original song had been written by Carter Haven and was sung by the Lord girls. The Free State party held its first election on October 9, 1855. It did not amount to much as sthere were four or five hundred border ruffians camped just east of Switzler Creek and they did most of the voting. The winter of 1855-56 was very severe and on account of poor surroundings, there was much sickness and quite a number died, among them Helen and Josephine Lord. In the spring of 1856, another band of immigrants arrived. Among them were James Rogers, Thomas Playford, John Dennison, C.C. Crumb, L.D. and N.E. Adams and John Mings. It was a summer of unrest. Border ruffians were coming and going continually. Burlingame was on the Old Santa Fe Trail and the Yeager and Anderson gangs were a constant menace and cause of uneasiness. Everyone was armed and ready to answer a call. 

     During the summer, Lawrence was nearly destroyed under the leadership of the notorious sheriff, Jones. The Free State legislature in session at Topeka was forcibly disbanded by Colonel Sumner on July 4, 1856. Because of the uncertainty of near future conditions, little farming was done that summer. Strong delegations went to Topeka form both Council City and Auburn--25 or 30 form each place--ready to fight if there were any chance to win. But the armed Dragoons and artillery were invulnerable. It would be fighting the American Government. But their readiness to go if needed, shows their mettle and loyalty to the cause of freedom. Judge Elmore of Lecompton tried to calm the crowd of men who came to see that the legislature should proceed undisturbed. Judge Schuyler spoke of the folly of trying to fight the Government and as a result of these persuasive speeches by real thinkers the inflamatory speeches were ignored and the crowds went back home. 

     There was much unrest during the summer and fall of 1856. Robberies and burnings were frequent and occasionally murder was committed. Trade was precarious. All supplies were brought from the Missouri River--Kansas City or Leavenworth. It took six days to make the trip with horses, seven with oxen. It was dangerous, both going and coming. Small parties of ruffians would loot the wagons and sometimes take teams of horses. It became so dangerous that the settlers in and near Council City became entirely without provisions from the outside and had to depend on corn that they grated on a perforated tin can. Things were in turmoil through the years 1857-58 and up to the Civil War. Burlingame was directly on the Great Santa Fe Trail and the frontier city except for Council Grove. There was quite a trade during the grass season furnishing supplies to the great trains constantly going and coming. Old accounts that I have seen state that the trail was a well traveled road some sixty feet wide, the wagons drawn by from sixteen to twenty yoke of oxen or six to ten mules, and that often there were three trailers loaded with about four tons each of merchandise. The writer knew the trail well from early 1857, having driven heavily loaded wagons over it. The regular government train consisted for twenty-six wagons with six yoke oxen to each wagon. There was considerable freighting done by traders. Occasiionally there were mule teams on the trail, six mules to the wagon. There was a heavy Mexican trade.

     Heavily loaded wagons contained hides, wool and tallow. Often the oxen had to be shod, the wagons repaired and wood workmen made yokes and bows for the ox trains. Also there was considerable trade with the Indians. They were all peaceable but every annoying beggars. They had beaded moccasins, furs and buffalo robes for sale or trade. They wanted sugar, meal, flour, butcher knives and bright colored calico. The Indian was willing to give a tanned and painted black robe for two cups of sugar. There were some things raised along the streams. Corn planted on the sod did well. The sod was heavy and the usual way of planting was done with an axe. A deep cut was made in the upturned sod and two or three grains inserted. That was all. Often thirty or even forty bushels an acre was harvested. Wheat was sown in the spring. There was no fall sowing of wheat until after the 50's. It, as a rule, also did well, yieldinorm fifteen to twenty bushels an acre. There were no threshing machines. The wheat was spread on the ground, tramped or beaten out by oxen or the old fashioned flail and winnowed after the way ot two thousand years ago. The earliest mills for grinding wheat were at Grasshopper Falls, the Lawrence windmill (a genuine Duch windmill brought direct from across the water) and the Missouri River. Potatoes did well.

     Grass was cut with a scythe and raked by hand. The first mowers came in 1857 and grass was cut for $10 a day. There was wild fruit in season. Plums of good size and quality were abundant. Plenty of gooseberries grew along the streams. There were also lots of wild grapes and strawberries and some blackberries and raspberries. All of these fruits were carefully gathered and in addition, there was some garden stuff. There was some wild game. Prairie chickens were plentiful. They were here in large flocks. There were a few deer, but unlike those further east, which lived in the timbered places, the Kansas deer kept their feeding and sleeping haunts on the open prairie, using the deep ravines for hiding places. Three kinds of squirrels, red, grey, and black were plentiful along the streams as were cotton tail rabbits. All were quite a help to the early day household. There were no jack rabbits until after the Civil War. There was a long-legged and long-billed bird that came with the robin and killdeer. They were a little larger than quail, went in small flocks and were fine eating. There were not many quail. Antelope were found occasionally. There were fish to be had in both Switzler and Dragoon Creeks. Late in the fall or early winter, it was customary for a few of the early residents to go out to the buffalo range and load up with buffalo hams. Several men would go together--usually with ox temas. Occasionally small bands of buffalot could be found near Diamond Springs some twenty miles west of Council Grove, but generally they were old bulls-derelicts-that had been driven out of the main herds and were poor in quality. The large herds were not found short of a hundred miles. One tragic event took place on one of these trips for meat out of Burlingame. A man named Price Perrill was killed near Wheeler's Ranch on the Little Arkansas River, now Little River. There is nothing absolutely certain as to who killed him. Some Burlingame people though he was killed by a man with whom he had had trouble near Kansas City. He was found some two miles west of the ranch. A little dog that had been with him was found lying near with an arrow in his body. The belief that a plainsmen and trappers was that he had killed by Indians to carry out a religious duty. Two Indians had been hung at Council Grove and death by hanging barred the Indian from the Happy Hunting Grounds until the bar was removed. And that cost the death of a white man. Perill's body was borught back home and rests in the Burlingame cemetery. Raccoons were plentiful along the streams, living in hollow trees and differing from the Eastern coon, in holes in the ground. Up to the middle of the 60's, there were no opossums as far west as Burlingame. Muskrats and minks were here. Burlingame was really a frontier town but was comparatively free from the lawlessness that characterized the towns of the frontier. As usual, most of the trouble was the result of whiskey which was to be had easily. Up to the time when Kansas went dry, there were from one to six places where whiskey and beer were the main articles for sale. Also some of the early hotels had bars and drinks could be obtained at the drug stores. Many arguments ended with black eyes and bloody noses. What kept Burlingame much cleaner than many other towns was the character of her first settlers. They were picked men, coming from back East with a fixed purpose in their minds. There were two great predominating reasons for the their coming--to make homes and to keep Kansas Territory form the curse of slavery. Many came with families. Mature, solid and thinking men were included in their number which included preachers, lawyers, mechanics, teachers and cultured men and women. Many came armed with "Beecher Bibles"--Sharpe' rifles.

The influence of the early settlers held Burlingame within reasonable bounds except on rare occasions. Beer came in heavy kegs--eight to sixteen gallons each--whiskey in heavy oak barrels containing about forty gallons each. On one occasion, I saw a barrel with an extra label, "Forty fights in this barrel." From my standpoint, it was correctly marked. The last call for help before the Civil War was in September 1865. There was a large body of men camped at Franklin, some four or five miles south of Lawrence. There had ben some fighting at Franklin and several men killed and they were threatening Lawrence. The leaders of the Missourians were Atchison and Stringfellow, notoorious pro-slavery men bent on making Kansas a slave state. Quite a number from Burlingame responded to the call and went to Lawrence. Earth works were hastily built. The men were armed with all kinds of weapons from Sharpe's rifles to pitchforks. One Burlingame man, L.R. Adams tells of old John Brown, "Ossawatomie Brown," coming out to the trenches saying, "If they come, use your forks to pitch them out." But the preparations were telling on the Franklin army. On the 15th of September, the new governor, Geary, arrived with an army carrying the Stars and Stripes. Colonel Cooke's dragoons with artillery occupied Mount Oread. Mr. Adams say, "We knew that relief had come." Governor Geary with an escort rode over to Franklin and ordered the forces collected there home, allowing them to pass by Lawrence and up to Lecompton where they crossed the Kansas River and on to Leavenworth. On their way they did considerable damage, robbing and burning. But it was about the last formidable raid by large bodies of men up to the Civil War. In the fall of 1856, there was a definite change in conditions. There had been preaching and religious services held in different houses. A Congreagationalist church had been organized by Rev. Henry Morrell with P.C. Schuyler and A.W. Hoover as deacons. The land on which Burlingame now stands was preempted by P.C. Schuyler. In the spring of 1857, it was surveyed by Price Perrill. Things were moving in an orderly fashion. The name Council City was changed to Burlingame. Mr. Schuyler started to build a saw mill where the First National Bank now stands. In a short time he was sawing lumber. Later a mills for grinding grain was attached. The Congregational church had some serious trouble about this time with an organization at Freemont or Superior, the congregation dividing. The first pastor, Morrell went to Superior and a preacher from Wilmington name Ingersoll took charge of the Burlingame church. It was at this time also that the town well was dug. It was done by volunteer labor, the men working by turns. Mr. Schuyler hauled the stone for walling the well. It was dug in the middle of Santa Fe Avenue where the main north and south roads cross through the city.

     On August 5, 1856, a Baptist church was organized by Rev. R.C. Bryant and Rev. J.C. Taylor. A Methodist church was organized the same year by Rev. Holiday and rev. Paddock. The first cemetery for the new town was a burial plot on a hill a miles west of Council City Hill. However, most of the bodies interred there have been removed to the present cemetery, but many unmarked graves are still there--all marks being obliterated. Burlingame township was organized September 21, 1857 and in March 1858 the first officers were elected. William Lord and John Drew were the first two peace officers. On March 28, 1858, a full set of county officers were elected who held their places until the regular November election of 1859. The county commissioners chosen were N.R. Morill, M. Rambo and A.T. Dutton. Other officers elected were E.M. Perrin, county clerk, John Rambo, clerk of the district court, Thomas Russell, sheriff, and L.R. Adams, register of deeds. There was little trouble from this time until the outbreak of the Civil War. When the call for volunteers was issued, Burlingame and vicinity, ture to its earlier history, responded promptly. There was no need for drafting. Few, if any able-bodied men were left to care for the farms or business. the records show that near two hundred men gave their residences to Osage county. Several held commission as officers and served in the 11th Kansas Infantry under Colonels Ewing and Moonlight. There was considerable uneasiness during the war in Burlingame. It was the great Santa Fe Trail, the main road through the state and outlaw bands led by Dick Yeager and the Anderson boys were in evidence. In 1862, the Anderson gang killed a Mr. Baker over on Rock Creek, burning his house and Mr. Baker with it. He had taken refuge in the cellar and they burned the house over him. A little later, George Sabin was killed on the Trail near where Overbrook now stands. He was an 11th Kansas soldier. Such cold blooded murders as these kept Burlingame in readiness for any emergency. An unusual thing took place in the history of Burlingame. A man named Polley was sheriff and it became his duty to arrest a man named Bates. There are two stories as to why he was arrested but for the cause he was arrested by Polley. Handcuffed and shackled he was confined in the A.M. Jarboe house just north of town.

     The sheriff was called away, leaving his father, a feeble old man in charge of the prisoner. Bates induced the elder Polley to loosen his handcuffs and then brutally shot the old man. His hand being free, he took an axe and broke the shackles and made his get-a-way. He was caught at or near Lawrence by a party of Burlingame men. On the way back he broke away but was soon recovered. The killing of the elder Polley was so needles that a jury soon found Bates guilty of first degree murder and he was condemned to be hung by the neck until he was dead. This order was carried out and he was hung in the court house, a two-story building which stood on the present site of the Schuyler school, the grade school building. Those now living say that Bates made a wonderful speech before the drop fell, telling those who heard him to profit by his disgraceful end and to live good, honorable lives. No history of Burlingame would be complete without specific mention of the early settlers of 1854-5-6 and 7. The writer has interviewed quite a number of the early pioneers and gathered much more than it is possible to write in a brief sketch. The incidents of the early history of Burlingame can be had now from a very few who were here. Soon it will be too late. Among the early ones were Henry Todd and family. Mrs. Anna Palmer who is still living here was about two and one-half years old when she came. An older sister, Louisa, twelve years older, taught school in 1855 at the Council cabins in the west end of Burlingame. The cabins were close together. A wagon cover was stretched from cabin to cabin and under that shelter the school was held. Other early settlers were the Hoovers, Ithiel Streit, the Brattons, the Empies, the Blacks, the Hulburds, the Mitchells, John Freele, the Akins, John Ward, Henry Harvey. All settled near Dragoon and Switzler Creeks near Burlingame. In 1854 came one Hollam Rice who settled on what is now the county farm. 

     About this same time William Cable and William Howard settled on the Dragoon near the Rice place. In 1856, among others came E.M. Perrin, A. Polley, John Drew, A. Leonard, John Perrill, William Lord, Rev. Henry Garriel Morrell, J.M. Winchell, Robert Wheat, Dr. E.P. Sheldon, Dr. Toothman, John Smith. A little later came the Finches, the Boyce family, the Crumbs, Joe Rulison, the Olivers, Chas. Buehler, Dan Griswold, Lyons, Judge Thomson, Caziers, Shephard, Bob Huff, Elisha Wood, the Rogers, the VanNattas, Marcus J. Rose, J.M. Chambers, the Adams family, Thomas R. Davis, Linkenauger. Among the early settlers were a number of proslavery men. They had taken claims for the purpose of making a permanent home. There was little, if any friction between them and the free state men. Frye P. McGee just east of Burlingame, on the great Trail had several slaves, but no attempt was made to interfere with them in any way. As mentioned before, the early settlers of Council City, now Burlingame were an exceptional body of men and women. So far as the use of arms was concerned, they were strictly on the defensive, but when their rights were trampled upon, they were ready to defend to the death.

     Many of the soldiers came back to Burlingame at the close of the war, but not all. Two members of the Second Kansas Cavalry never came back. They were Tom Rogers of Burlingame and Russel Palmer of near Auburn. Near the close of the war, they started home from Fort Gibson but never arrived and nothing definite ever was learned as to their disappearance. Both men had money and the common belief was that they had been killed and robbed. It was known who was with them when they started home and a name was mentioned as their probable murderer. Another unravelled story was the killing of a Burlingame doctor. A party of some Twenty Second Kansas soldiers and a few of Raub's battery men left Fort Smith to join the regiment at Pine Bluff. Colonel Cloud was in command. They met a large gang of rebels on Horse Head Prairie near Ozark but stood them off. A bunch of ten men, however were captured and killed, among them the doctor from Burlingame. I knew his name at the time but have never been able to find anyone who knew what his name was. It is just one of the many interesting incidents that may never be explained. One of the early enterprises at Burlingame was a woolen mill for which a large stone building was erected near where the Santa Fe station now stands. For some reason, it did not prosper. Then a man named Shaw turned into a knitting factory, but its success followed the woolen mill. The building then got into the hands of C.C. Crumb who converted it into a mill for grinding grain. It did a flourishing business for many years but finally was destroyed by fire. The first newspaper, The Osage County Chronicle was started in 1863 by M.M. Murdock. Ten years later, John E. Rastall took charge of it and continued for another ten years. Then came J.N. Donald and still later E.G. Pipp, and on thorugh a number of hands until 1919 when it was consolidated with The Burlingame Enterprise, established in 1895 by C.A. Stodard and Ed. Riddle. For a number of years, Stodard & Son have had charge of the paper, now know at The Enterprise-Chronicle, a large, eight page paper, well edited and well liked by Osage County people. Burlingame is a pioneer city. It is located directly on the famed Santa Fe Trail that started at Independence, Missouri and lead to New Mexico. Its main street, Santa Fe Avenue is directly on the trail. It is situated on the great Santa Fe Railway. Its streets are very wide, the Avenue and some others being paved. Nice sidewalks are everywhere. It has a large well shaded park, band stand and a band that is known far and wide as the Boys' Band. At the present time there are a number of girls in the band. The City of Burlingame is situated in the center of a coal field some thirty miles long and five miles wide which provides work for about six hundred men about six months each year at a wage from five to six dollars a day when working full time. It is about eighty feet to the coal and the vein is in the neighborhood of eighteen inches thick, is good and burns well.

     Rural mail patrons are served by four carriers and in town deliveries are made twice daily. The town also is served by a Topeka-Osage City bus line make two round trips each day. From Topeka, bus lines extend from coast to coast or to almost any point in the United States. There are two or three dealers in real estate who will pay your taxes or insure your property. There are four barber shops where men and women, boys and girls can be get their hair cut a-la-mose, curled, perfumed or marcelled as they desire. If you have a toothache, there are two artists ready and willing to extract it or if you have not teeth, they can remedy the deficiency. If you have any ailment, pain or ache, there are four doctors within easy call. If you need the services of expert or experienced lawyers, they are always ready to help. If you want to get married, all you have to do is get a license, a willing woman and a half dozen ministers stand ready to tie a knot that will be difficult to untie.

     There are paved and improved roads running north and south and east that connect with other paved or sanded roads that go as far as the state goes and far beyond. There is short space to be filled going west that will soon be paved or sanded to connect with other roads. Safe automobile roads will always be ready for travel. The city has an electric light plant. A white way lights up main street and the cross streets are well lighted as well as all homes within the city bounds and some outside. The light plant not only is paying its way but is earning an excess of over a thousand dollars amonth that can be applied for the city's benefit. The city is surrounded by a rich, black and fertile soil, second to few others and well adapted for raising corn, the great cereal of Kansas. The town is situated on Switzler Creek and two miles north of Dragoon Creek from which the water supply is taken. The city owns its water plant and furnishes filtered water both withing and without its bounds. The plant is paying its way. There is a well kept cemetery a little way south and just outside the city limits. The first grave was dug for Mr. Polley, murdered by Bates who was legally hung for the deed. The second grave was for a Mr. Ford. The town has an ice and ice cream factory, a broom factory, three blacksmith shops, two banks, two hardware stores, two drug stores, three dry goods stores, two notion stores, a bakery, an elevator, two feed and seed stores, a motion picture house, two pool halls, a bowling alley and a horse-shoe alley. There are five garages, four filling stations, five churches, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal and a Methodist for colored folks. In addition, there is a Pentecostal organization that meets twice a week but has no church of its own. Chautauquas are held every year. Fraternal organizations include the I.O.O.F., Masonic bodies and a number of women's clubs. The town has a fine grade school and splendid high school. The dwellings off the main street are good, substantial buildings with plenty of ground for gardens, fruit trees, shrubs and flowers. The city government is composed of a mayor and council chosen by legal voters of the city. There are no known places were intoxicants of any kind are for sale. A man under the influence of liquor is rarely seen. Occasionally a bootlegger or rum-runner gets in but his stay is short and his get-a-way sudden. The rum-runners hail from Kansas City and come by auto. The city has a jail but it is very seldom needed. The town is an ideal place for retired business men or farmers and there a few places where anyone can get more out of life as they near the going down of the sun and enter the shadows than in Burlingame. The writer, at the request of a number of people, undertook this write-up of the early history of Burlingame. He talked with a number of the "old times," looked over old records and found enough material to a make a large book. The job of writing a detailed history is left for some other pen.


Return to Main Page

Surname Search Utility - - - - Marriage Search Engines

website statistics