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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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William Burton

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 481 - 482

Two years before the admission of Wisconsin into the Union, the gentleman whose name heads this record cast in his lot among the pioneer settlers of Lyndon Township, where he is now living on section 2. A native of Oswego County, N. Y., he was born January 22, 1833, and was the fourth in a family of five sons and four daughters, whose parents were William and Mary (Todd) Burton. The father was born in Connecticut, in May, 1801, and became one of the pioneers of Oswego County, N. Y. His education was quite limited, and he began life a poor boy, but by untiring labor and good management he became well-to-do. He was liberal and benevolent, and the poor and needy found in him a friend. In June, 1846, he bade adieu to his old home, and started with his family for Wisconsin. They landed at Milwaukee, and our subject and two brothers made their way through the wilderness with ox-teams, a distance of fifty-three miles, which they accomplished in six days. The remainder of the family went by sail-boat to Sheboygan. Mr. Burton purchased eighty acres of land on the Dye Road, where he remained until the following August, when he removed to an eighty-acre timber farm on section 36, Plymouth Township. The home was a log cabin in the midst of the forest, but in course of time highly cultivated fields surrounded the residence, and the boundaries of the farm were extended by the additional purchase of forty acres. In New York, Mr. Burton was a Presbyterian, but after coming West he and his wife joined the Congregational Church. He died in 1878, and his wife, who was born in Jefferson County, N. Y., in 1803, passed away in 1872. The family is of English origin.

Of the nine children only four are now living: William; Electa, who is the wife of Dorrance Bunce, an agriculturist, of Jessup, Iowa; Henry J., a farmer of Marathon County, Wis., who served in the late war as a member of Company C, Fourth Wisconsin Infantry, and afterwards was in the cavalry service; and George F., who is an expert mechanic of Ashland, Ore.

Our subject was a lad of thirteen when he first saw Sheboygan County, and from that early day he is familiar with the history of its growth and upbuilding. Like a dutiful son, he gave his father the benefit of his services until he had attained his majority, when he started out in life for himself. He attended the first school in Lyndon Township, held in a house which his father helped to erect. The first teacher was Miss Helen Stone. She was followed by Mrs. E. P. Andrus, Glandville Jewett and Harvey Cummings. The Chippewa and Winnebago Indians were still numerous in the settlement, in fact they far outnumbered the white man. Few roads had been made, and Mr. Burton often had to cut his way through the forests. Deer and other wild game were plentiful. Ox-teams instead of horses were used for farm work. The first church services were held in a log schoolhouse near the Burton home.

In 1859, our subject went to Dunn County, Wis., where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, and spent three years. Of this he broke sixty acres, and on it built a house. This tract, however, was claimed by another party, and he and Mr. Burton lived on the land at the same time. The latter engaged in breaking prairie with seven yoke of oxen, and one season broke one hundred and eight acres. He kept this farm until 1871, when he sold it for $2,800, for his father's health had failed, and he was obliged to return home in order to aid in the cultivation of the old homestead.

Mr. Burton was fortunate enough to discover a remedy for the entire extermination of the terrible pest to the agricultural community known as the Canada thistle. He had long ago come to the conclusion that there must be a practical and cheap method of entirely killing this pest, root and branch, and the testimonials of the leading farmers who have used "The Burton Thistle Remedy" are a guarantee of its effectiveness, and a trial by the farming community is all that is necessary to establish this fact.

On the 10th of March, 1867, Mr. Burton wedded Frances M., daughter of Nathaniel H. and Sophia S. (Williams) West. She was born in Walworth County, February 10, 1845, and was only a year and a-half old when her parents came to this county. For eight terms she was numbered among the best teachers of the community. On the paternal side she is of Scotch, and on the maternal side of English, descent. Her father was born in New York, July 1, 1808, and emigrated to Wisconsin in an early day, where he followed farming. His death occurred July 28, 1890. He was a devout member of the Free-Will Baptist Church, as was his wife. She was born July 1, 1811, and died February 26, 1893, at the age of eighty-two. They had two sons and three daughters, as follows: Adeline, wife of Levi Mead; Mrs. Burton; Emma, wife of James Hastings, whose biography appears in this volume; Charles, a mechanic of Lake Park, Iowa; and Henry, a farmer of Kansas.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Burton were born two children. Ernest G., who was educated in the Plymouth High School, and graduated from the Sheboygan Business College in 1890, is much interested in mechanics and electricity. He cast his first vote for Benjamin Harrison, in 1892. Socially, he is Marshal of Town Line Lodge, No. 275, I. O. G. T. Grace V., an affable young lady, is recognized as a teacher of ability, and has taught in the county schools for five years. She is now a teacher in the Plymouth High School, from which she graduated in the Class of '88, and where she has since taught three years. She is a student of both instrumental and vocal music, and is an active member of the Good Templar lodge, as is also Mrs. Burton. The latter is now serving as Lodge Deputy, and was formerly Chief Templar.

Mr. Burton attained his majority about the time of the organization of the Republican party, and cast his first vote for John C. Fremont. Since that time he has been a stalwart advocate of Republican principles, but has never been an aspirant for political honors, preferring to devote his attention to his business interests, in which he has met with signal success. He and his wife are faithful and consistent members of the Congregational Church, to which the children also belong. Their home is a beautiful and commodious residence, situated in the midst of a highly cultivated farm of eighty acres, and the Burton household is the abode of hospitality. Its members rank high in social circles, and have the warm regard of many friends and acquaintances.


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