We’ve covered history on every town in the county save one. I’ve put it off for some time because information on that town is scarce as hen’s teeth. I had the pleasure to visit with Marvin Peterson who grew up in Burdick and has been collecting photos and history on the town since he was a young boy. He’s had the privilege to know and learn from the ‘old timers’ of Burdick. Marvin allowed me to borrow a book written by an early settler of Burdick. A Quarter-Inch of Rain by E. T. Anderson gives a look at the development of the small town and the cattle industry.
S. F. Nelson and W.B. Stevens wrote a brief history of Burdick in 1925 for the centennial of the signing of the treaty with the Osage at Council Grove giving right of way on the Santa Fe Trail. In this history it is said that in the late 1870s a few families of Russian Mennonites settled in the area and tried to scratch out a living. They got discouraged and moved west to Marion and McPherson Counties, where some who I know personally remain, just as discouraged. In 1880 the Swedes began moving into southwestern Morris County. Nelson and Stevens go on to say, “an excursion was run from Clay Center to McPherson, whence the party was transferred to Marion and then loaded in wagons for a trip to this garden spot.”
The story is slightly different in the case of the Anderson family. They settled on a quarter section five miles north and three east of McPherson in 1879. Victor Anderson and his father pooled their monies and jointly owned the 160 acre farm. In 1884 Victor sold his interest to his father and bought a quarter section from the railroad in southwestern Morris County. That fall and winter he built a modest house for his family and sent for them the following February.
When the Swedish settlers first came to southwestern Morris County they congregated in the area around Six Mile Station on the Santa Fe Trail. This little station, on Six Mile Creek, was at or near the junction of the Santa Fe Road and an early branch of the Ft. Riley Road. The sign placed at the site by the Santa Fe Trail Association states that a three room stone building was there with a cornerstone dated 1849. It also states there was a stone coral, stable and a log store. I have found no documentation as of yet to confirm this, but if true, then it would lead one to believe it was first established by David Waldo, Jacob Hall and William McCoy. Waldo, Hall & Company also had a station at Council Grove and Diamond Springs. Because of their station at Diamond Springs I am doubtful they would have built another just six miles away. But, like I said verification is still pending on that.
We do know Six Mile Creek post office was established there February 9th 1863 with Samuel H. Shaft as the first appointee. In 1865 brothers Frank and William Hartwell purchased Six Mile Station for $2,000. They found it not very lucrative and sold it to Charley Owens the following year for $500. The post office was defunct October 3rd 1866 but Owens continued to live there awhile afterward. Supposedly when the Cheyenne had their little spat with the Kaw in June 1868, they burned Six Mile Station on their retreat from the county. Owens and his wife were away at the time.
During my research on Six Mile Station I have come across several sources that claim the post office was moved there because Dick Yeager’s men burned the store at Diamond Springs. That is simply not true. The post office was closed at Diamond Springs February 9th 1863 and moved to Six Mile Creek. The incident at Diamond Springs did not happen until May 4th of that year; nearly three months after the post office was moved. The real reason for the move is still a mystery to me.
November 17th 1884, settlers at Six Mile organized the Hebron Lutheran Church with 29 charter members. Initially the congregation met in homes and then at a large home at Six Mile Station. Later, the worshipers gathered at the Lone Star School house until a proper church was erected in 1887. The first building was torn down in 1934 and a new one built which stands at present. In 1885 the Mission Friends church was organized with 25 members, and then the Methodist came along in 1892 with 14 charter members.
The original settlement at Six Mile was called Linsdale by the locals. However, in 1886 the Burdick Townsite Company was organized and purchase 320 acres 2 ½ miles south of Six Mile where the railroad was to come through. Burdick post office was opened August 29th 1887 and remains so today. Dr. Calvin L. Reed was the first postmaster at Burdick. Reed was a West Virginian who was said to be very ‘neighborly’ in his ways. When he first started in the post and the amount of letters few, he would carry the mail in his hat. Upon meeting anyone for whom he had a letter, he would take off his hat and deliver their mail.
In 1905 E. T. Anderson scared up some investors and by September of that year opened the Burdick State Bank. William Atkinson was elected president and Anderson served as cashier until 1919 when he became president after Atkinson sold his stock in the bank. The sudden pull out surprised Anderson but he gladly purchased Atkinson’s shares. If Anderson was surprised at Atkinson’s leaving the bank you can imagine his astonishment when he learned that Atkinson was going to open a competitive bank directly across the street. It was believed that a charter wouldn’t be granted to a second bank in such a small town, but money talks and Atkinson was able to buy a charter. In two weeks the Farmers State Bank went up. In 1922 the banks consolidated as it proved to be that such a small town could not support two banks. The Burdick State Bank building stands today and presently houses the post office.
Two things Burdick will always be remembered for are its parades and rodeos. The first Field Day at Burdick was held in September 1912. Schools, churches, organizations and bands marched or rode in decorated wagons and cars to show off their town spirit. These Field Days would draw large crowds, people coming from as far away as Lindsborg. Burdick keeps up this tradition today with the annual Labor Day parade which has been held annually since 1973.
William ‘Bill’ Pickett, the renowned bull-dogger, will forever be associated with Burdick’s rodeos. Bill was born in Texas December 5th 1870. In 1905 he signed up to work for the Miller brothers on the 101 Ranch in Oklahoma. He also performed in the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, which was keeping up the tradition started by William Cody. It was during this time that Pickett began his trademark bull-dogging. He would take a steer by the horns and twist its head around, then bite the steers lip like cattle dog would do. Then with his hands raised skyward he would hold the steer at bay with nothing more than his teeth. This later developed into steer wrestling which remains popular today. Picket later found his way into the motion pictures and was featured in Crimson Skull and The Bull-Dogger. He is purported to be the first black cowboy star on the silver screen. Bill Picket died April 2nd 1932 after being kicked in the head by a horse he was working with on the 101. In 1971 he was inducted into the National Cowboy Rodeo Hall of Fame. His legacy lives on at the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo in Hayward, California held each year in July.