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Founding of Browns Grove/Burdett

The community of Browns Grove was created in 1876 when Dr. Gallatin Brown combined his name with a large grove of ash trees. When the railroad surveyed the area in 1885, the tracks were laid south of Browns Grove. Businesses that would profit from the placement of the railroad moved to the new site. The railroad officials chose the name Burdett in honor of famous writer and humorist Robert Jones Burdette. [1]

The Mather’s, Rucker’s, Notestine’s, and Norris’ were among the early settlers. One of the first industries in Pawnee County was a flour mill built in 1879. Two immigrants from Denmark, E.A. Johnson & Wright, spent $10,000 building a three-story stone building. The dimensions were 26 feet wide and 38 feet long. In addition, a dam was constructed across the Pawnee River to provide water power. “Pawnee Chief” was the name chosen for the name of the flour they produced. The mill was built as the only flour mill west of Hutchinson, Kansas, so farmers brought their grain as far away as Garden City, Dodge City, and Kinsley.[2]

Conversations about the establishment of a cemetery began in 1887. Mr. H.R. Brown donated about three and a half acres of his land to be used as the cemetery if the townspeople would build and maintain a fence. Mr. Brown had already buried his son and wife, and their burial plots would be the first burials in the new cemetery.

Henry Rathburn Brown was a native of New York, born on December 25, 1825. When the Civil War broke out, Pvt. Brown enlisted as a wagoner in Co. D 70th NY Infantry for a three-year term. In 1879, H.R. brought his wife, son, and daughter to northeast Pawnee County. Unfortunately, his ten-year-old son, Lorenzo, died in 1884, and Jane, his wife, passed away two years later. The causes of their deaths are unknown.

H.R. remained in Browns Grove for two more years. He settled in Ohio, where he died in 1896. He is buried in Dayton National Cemetery.

The rest of the story: Henry and Jane’s daughter, Jennie May, remained in Pawnee County, where she married Richard Mitchell in 1900. She passed away in 1955 and joined her mother and brother in Brown Grove Cemetery.

[1] Arlene Notestine Todd, Jean Bindley Thompson, History of Browns Grove & Burdett Kansas 1876-1976 p. 12

[2] p. 17-18

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