Biography of John D. Burton

John D. Burton. Like many of his contemporaries in the field of journalism in Southeastern Kansas, John D. Burton, proprietor and editor of the Potwin Ledger, began his career at the case. His entire life had been devoted to newspaper work, as compositor, editor and owner of publications in various parts of the country, but principally in Kansas, where he had resided and labored since the fall of 1878. While his present publication was founded only recently, it had already gained a wide circulation and promises to become an organ of influence in public matters under Mr. Burton’s wise and experienced direction.

John D. Burton was born at Springfield, Illinois, July 1, 1857, and is a son of David A. and Elizabeth (Tarr) Burton. He comes of a family which, originating in England, was founded in North Carolina by three brothers, William, Thomas and Allen Burton, the last named of whom, his great-grandfather, became a pioneer farmer of Indiana and died in the vicinity of Terre Haute. Allen H. Burton, son of the immigrant, and grandfather of John D. Burton, was born at Charlotte Court House, North Carolina, and was there reared, educated and married. Subsequently he went to Indiana, but later became a pioneer into Williamson County, Illinois, where he condueted a blacksmith shop until his death. He married Cynthia Boyle, a native of Ireland. David A. Burton, father of John D., was born in 1832, at Mount Vernon, Indiana, and was there reared. He received a fairly good education in the public schools and in his younger years was a teacher, subsequently becoming connected with newspaper work as an editorial writer. Throughout the period of the Civil war he was associate editor of different newspapers in Indiana and Illinois, and after the war in Illinois and at St. Louis, Missouri. In 1880 Mr. Burton came to Kansas and located at McCune, where he was engaged in the real estate and insurance business until his death, which occurred in 1881. Mr. Burton was a Democrat in politics, a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a faithful attendant of the Christian Church, of which he was a strong supporter, and at various times deacon and local preacher. He married Miss Elizabeth Tarr, who was born in 1832, at Snow Hill, Maryland, and became an orphan at the death of her father when she was five years old. She was reared at Mount Vernon, Indiana, where she met and married Mr. Burton. Her death occurred at Seneca, Missouri, in 1911. Mr. and Mrs. Burton were the parents of three children, namely: Lillias, a resident of Riverside, California, and widow of the late George McCorkell, who was a stockman in Crawford County, Kansas; John D.; and Euphoria, who is the wife of B. F. Howe, of Nevada City, California, a forest guand in the employ of the United States Government.

John D. Burton received his education in the public schools of Salem, Illinois. Evidently he inherited from his father a predilection for newspaper work, for when he was but fifteen years of age he began to learn the printer’s trade, and not long thereafter started work at the case as a compositor for the St. Lonis Democrat, an organ with which he was connected for three years. Following this he worked through Missouri and Arkansas as a journeyman printer, and in the fall of 1878 entered Kansas, locating at Galena, which at that time was known as Short Creek. He followed the trade of compositor there for one year, following which he spent a like period at Columbus, and next went to Baxter Springs, where he had his first experience as a newspaper owner, there establishing the Baxter Springs Mirror. After one year he disposed of this publication and went to McCune, Kansas, where he started the McCune Standard, and carried on this paper for a year. His next location was at Neodesha, where he worked as a compositor until 1882, and next resided at Augusta, Butler County, where he was foreman for the Southern Kansas Gazette for four years. When he left the Gazette he went to Douglass, where, in partnership with J. M. Satterthwaite, he published the Douglass Tribune for 4 ½ years, then returning to Augusta to start the Augusta Beacon. A little over a year later he sold this paper and went to Florence, Kansas, as a compositor in the Shaw Stationery Company’s establishment, and continued there one year. In 1904 he went to El Dorado and became a compositor on the El Dorado Republican, remaining with that publication for seven years, and in 1911 established a job printing establishment in that city, which he sold in December, 1916. He then bought modern printing material and equipment and established a plant at Potwin, where, on December 30, he founded the Potwin Ledger, of which he had since been editor and owner. The offices and plant are located on White-water Avenue. The Ledger is republican in its policy, is a neat, well-edited and well-printed sheet, its pages being devoted to the national news of the day, with local news and good editorial matter, and is considared a good advertising medium by the merchants and professional men who are giving it good support. It circulates freely in its section of Butler County, and it is the aim of Mr. Burton to give his readers clean, reliable news, believing that through this means the public may be helped to support development and progress. Mr. Burton is a republican, but his only public office had been that of notary public. He belongs to the Christian Church, and is affiliated fraternally with Augusta Lodge No. 81, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of which he is past noble grand.

In March, 1881, at Neodesha, Kansas, Mr. Burton was married to Miss Mary Toler, of Ohio, and they have two children: Alex K., who resided at Caldwell, Kansas, and as a printer is showing indications of following his father’s career; and Elizabeth, who resided with her parents.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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