Burket Letter

The following item appeared in the Sioux County Herald on November 29, 1883, Page 4.  Civil War veteran Marquis de Lafayette (Mark) Burket (1847-1906), son of Eliza Jane (Gough) and David Burket, came with his family to Sioux County where he homesteaded land in Reading Township about a mile south of the present town of Ireton and later established a saddlery shop in Ireton.  Although he maintained investments in the Ireton area, he was married in 1880 and the family lived in Mahaska County where he later served as Mayor of New Sharon.  Among his numerous siblings was a sister Melissa who married Charles French and a brother Clinton who farmed near Ireton.  He was also a cousin of L.M. Black’s first wife, Susannah (Gough) Black.  The Black, Burket and French families all homesteaded on nearby sections in western Reading and eastern Washington Township.  M.D. Burket’s mother, several siblings and cousin Susannah Black are all buried in Union Hill Cemetery.

Ireton at One Year of Age, The following letter, taken from the New Sharon Star, was written by M.D. Burket, a former resident of the county, and is a very good pen-picture of the growing town of Ireton:


Ed. Star:  Between the rush of business I thought I would write up our village, now about a year old.

Ireton is situated on the Tama City branch of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad. It is beautifully located on a high elevation of land. The railroad was built from Sioux Rapids to Hawarden, nine miles west of here, on the Big Sioux River, last year, and it has been built from there to Huron, Dakota, this season.

Ireton is taking strides forward with a rapidity that astonishes even its projectors. It was the first town in Sioux County to have a brick building.

Commencing on the southeast corner of Main street and Burket avenue (Ed. Note:  4th Street), is the store of Kilburg & Evans, who occupy a handsome building 24′ x 50′, two stories high, well filled with all kinds of goods, such as dry goods, hat and caps, boots and shoes, clothing, notions, groceries and queensware. They carry an eight to ten thousand dollar stock, and enjoy an enterprising trade. Mr. L. M. Black is head clerk and also postmaster, with a neat office in the store. Mr. Black is an old settler here, coming to this county in ‘70; was auditor of the county for a term of years; said enjoys the confidence of all who know him and like many of us old settlers, knows what a pioneer life is in the Northwest.  Mr Kilburg does not reside here, but lives in Le Mars, seventeen miles from here. He has all of the world’s goods that he needs, and is living a retired life. Mr. Evans is a young man, formerly of Jackson County, Iowa, is a man of fine business qualities. He has not been a resident long, but his is the first store in the place, having lately bought an interest in it.

The next establishment to the north is Mr. I. N. Compton. a young man of good business qualities. He occupies a building 24’x50′, two stories high; carries a general stock of goods. This room and the last mentioned are in one block, and is a splendid building and a credit to any town.

Next is the dressmaking establishment of Mrs. L. F. Farnsworth. Not having any occasion for using any goods in their line, don’t know what they have, but judging from appearances they do good business.

Next is the firm of Swartwout & Kidwiler. They occupy a building 20’x70′, and is a model of neatness, being well filled with a general stock of dry goods, boots and shoes, hats and caps, clothing, queensware, notions and groceries. Both being jolly good men, full of business and backed by abundant capital, they are building up an extensive business, and carry a five to six thousand dollar stock. Mr. Kidwiler was formerly of Hardin County, this State, and was the first white child born in that county. Mr. Swartwout is from York State.

Next is the restaurant and billiard parlor of Mr. Montogus who does a good business, having a good new building, and is a jolly good fellow from New York.

Next comes the pioneer hardware store of G. W. Meader. He occupies a building 20’x40′, two stories high; carries a large stock of goods-from seven to eight thousand dollars worth. He does a large business having sold sixty-five stoves this fall, and does business strictly on the square and not be undersold by Le Mars or elsewhere.

Next Is the drug store of Wing & Beckwith. They occupy a room 22’x50′, two stories high, with a fine hall above, which is used for all kinds of entertainments, the G. A. R. boys meet in it, also the Ireton Dancing Club. They carry a full line of drugs, medicines, paints, oils, clocks, watches and toilet articles, also pure liquor for medical, culinary and sacramental purposes. Mr. Wing was formerly from Gilman, Marshall County, Iowa. He is one of the substantial men of this place, owning a fine farm near town containing 640 acres, well improved. He is now building a fine residence here which, when completed, will be the finest in the city, being located on a high elevation and commanding a fine view. When completed he will bring his family here, which will be quite an acquisition to the place. Mr. Beckwith is a young physician of more than ordinary ability, being a graduate of Rush Medical College. He is formerly from Preston, Iowa. From the rush of business in the store and his extensive practice, he is talking of taking another partner, for you will see him, of a fine Sabbath morning, meandering his way over the hills and through the valleys to a certain farm house, and not returning until the small hours of the night.

Next is the agricultural house of Mr. Kelly who has a good two-story building; has done an extensive business this season, having sold thirteen thousand dollars worth of machinery.

Now comes the saddlery store of M. D. Burket who occupies a building 20’x30′, well-furnished and filled with a clean, fresh stock of goods of all kinds usually kept in his line, with N. D. Bates as foreman. He has built up quite an extensive trade, and will say for him that he has made a good record here that but few young men with the surrounding circumstances now-days, of his age, do make, and one that he may be proud of.

Next comes the Training School for young men, managed by the firm of Giffen & McDonald-saloon and billiard hall, and judging from the amount of empty beer kegs loaded and unloaded there, they do an extensive business.

Next is the boarding house of Mr. Warfield, which is a large brick building and well patronized.

Next is the Aiken House, a large hotel, but not near large enough to supply the demands.

Next is the coal and lumber yard of Queal & Co., operated by Mr. Parker, who does a large business in his line.

Now we come to the railroad track, to the large grain house of F. H. Peavy & Co. who handle a large amount of grain.  Mr. Peavy & Co. have eighty warehouses on the different roads in the Northwest. Their buyer here is Mr. Gibson, who knows how to please the farmers-by paying a high price for grain.

Close by is the depot, a fine two-story building well finished, with Geo. S. Holden as agent, who is a young man of good habits, accommodating and clever, mere so than most railroad men you will find.

Crossing the street east you come to the lumber and coal yard of F. M. Slagle, being the first one in the place, operated by Mr. Morgan, who attends strictly to business and will treat his customers right.

Farther east up the track is the large elevator of Sherman, Hopkins & Co. Mr. Sherman has charge of the business here, and he is the son of L. D. Sherman, member elect of the legislature of this county, who is a substantial farmer living near this town. Mr. Jim Sherman handles a large amount of grain at this place, and is paying to-day for oats, 18 to 20 cents per bushel; wheat, 70 to 75; corn. 30 to 32: flax, $1.14 to $1.18. The latter being the best paying crop to raise there is usually a large acreage sown. Mr. Sherman tells me he has shipped, since last September. 18 car loads of flax, 12 of corn, 10 of oats. 30 of wheat. 1 of barley and 7 of rye. This is outside of F.H. Peavey’s shipments.

Across the street south is the firm of Foster Bros, who occupy two buildings. They handle all kinds of agricultural implements. One building is used as an office, the other as a wareroom: and in connection with this they have a large list of lands on their books for sale, and are also agents for some insurance company. They are both young men of the best type. They are both moral, upright and honest, and will make their mark in this world.

Next is the blacksmith shop of A. C. Dale, one of the first citizens of the place, who is crowded at all times with work in his line.

Next is the building formerly occupied by Wing & Beckwith, which is now used by Dr. Moshcr who has just come here from Rock Island County. Illinois. He is now building himself a cozy residence in this place, and when completed will bring his family here.

Next is the large establishment of A. J. Barnard dealer in light and heavy hardware, agricultural implements, wagons, buggies. He occupies a room 24xS4, and it is well filled with shelf goods, stoves & etc. Mr. Barnard is formerly from Council Bluffs, and by his strict attention to business is building up a substantial trade.

And last, but not the least, is the large livery barn of Peebles & Wheeler who have a large lot of good horses (to trade on) with good buggies. They are doing quite an extensive business in this line.

The Methodist have a church here. It was built several years ago for the accommodation of the neighborhood, about a mile from town, but has been recently moved here, but they find it too small to accommodate the people here, and they are laying the foundation for a new one and the contract for building it has been let. It will cost from S2.500 to S3,000. The Presbyterians are taking steps for the erection of a house of worship.

There is room for other enterprise. A bank is badly needed, also a good, large hotel, furniture store, and a paper like the Star and do one-half for Ireton what the Star has done for New Sharon, would become a town of 2000 inhabitants, it being centrally located in the county and surrounded by the finest farming lauds the sun ever shown upon. When but a few years ago it was a boundless sea of prairie, it is now dotted over with fine houses, the sod shanties having long disappeared.

School houses are built two miles apart in all directions, making it convenient for all to attend.

Sioux county is classed with but few counties in the State, having over 100 miles of railroad. It is traversed north and south by two roads, the one is the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha, the other is the Sioux City & Pembina. And is bound to Chicago, by the iron bands of two roads, east and west – the north part of the county is traversed by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St, Paul, the south by the Chicago & Northwestern which is doing a heavy business since it has pierced the fertile prairies of southern Dakota.

The population of Sioux County, in 1880, was 5,436; present population 12,281, The county Is in the second tier from the north line of the State of Iowa: is in extent 24 miles north and south, by an average of 33 miles east and west, containing about 792 square miles.  It Is well watered with fine streams of pure water. Among them is the Rock River, Floyd, Indian Creek. Six Mile and Breakneck.

Good prairie land is selling at from ten to fifteen dollars per acre, and improved farms at twenty to twenty-five dollars per acre—owing to the improvements.

While I would not advise a man who is well fixed in an older settled country, like Mahaska county, to move west and endure the hardships that are endured in a new county, but to the man without a home, and the young man, I would say: come where wages are high, labor plenty and land cheap, and make you a home while you have a chance, for in a few years it will be like the other settled countries where lands are out of your reach and you are yet without a home. And I say again in the language of Horace Greeley, “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country.”

And now, Mr. Vail, I have written more than I expected to but could not get over the ground with less, and when you have proofread this, set it up and printed it, you will wonder how it will make you a living, but should you ever visit northwestern Iowa hungry, you shall be fed; dry, you shall have drink; tired, you shall have a bed — by paying the usual price.