Old Burnham Square

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Old Burnham Square

Burnham Townsite MapBurnham, a village long since in decay, was on land belonging to Edeline House as a part of the Ascension Gonsaba Grant sold to Anderson M. Berry. Robert Lockhart bought, at public auction, a league and labor of the Berry estate for thirty-eight dollars. In turn, he sold the land to W. R. and Munford House. On September 26, 1936, by written agreement, W. R. Baker sold House a portion of the grant for the consideration of a slave called John.

On November 2, 1861, Captain G. M. Hogan of Chatfield [Navarro County] surveyed and platted the town site. Edeline House signed the deed dedicating streets and alleys. This plat consisted of twenty-five blocks, the center block marked "Public Square" and others numbered from one to twenty-five and one-half feet wide. Streets running east and west were Main, Jefferson, Jackson and House. Lots were laid out seventy and one-half feet wide by one hundred forty-one and four-sixths in length.

Edeline House also gave a half block to the Methodist church - the first one in this part of the county, Trustees were J. T. Richardson, A. M. Penry, T. G. A. Tharp, J. D. Beauchamp and G. C. Allen. The gift was delivered to Rev. L. G. Shutt, the circuit rider. According to a diary kept by Mrs. E. V. W. Middleton, Brother Aiken gave sermons July 12 and September 27, 1868 and also July 11, 1869 and Brother Hodges conducted two services. This church remained active as long as Burnham existed.

Tradition has it that Edeline House once danced with Santa Anna. She died April 10, 1876, and was buried in the family cemetery. Other grave markers bearing this surname are William House, 1861; Harvey House, 1867; and Robert Boren, 1875.

G. W. Beard moved into the community in 1855 and bought five hundred acres of land. He had a store near his home located one mile from Burnham town site.

A post office, called Cummins Creek, was established March 4, 1859. George W. Beard was appointed postmaster, and served until Jan. 23, 1867, when the office was discontinued. He had assisted in the organization of two companies of the Confederate army, his son, John LaFayette, serving in one. Beard was also active during reconstruction days, thus disqualifying him for further federal duties. He served as Justice for nine years and as county commissioner. J. S. Sanderson, who came from Louisiana and settled west of Waxahachie Creek, succeeded Beard as commissioner.

On September 30, 1867, Cummins Creek post office was reopened with Thos. J. McKinney postmaster. Others appointed were: John A. McKinney, Nov. 29, 1869 and Jubilee McKinney Oct. 21, 1871. On July 11, 1873, the office was discontinued and mail was sent out from Ennis by rural carriers.

The largest business was owned by A. C. McCartney who later moved to Waxahachie. Others owning businesses were: A. H. Marchbanks, General Merchandise; The Jubilee McKinney Store; T. G. McNealy and E. F. Ross Blacksmith Shops; C. H. Beauchamp store. Physicians living and practicing here were Doctors J. M. Shegog, F. C. Stevenson and W. I. Foster.

The Cumberland Presbyterian church was organized in 1870 with thirteen members. G. W. Beard, H. H. Campbell and S. R. Stevenson were Elders.

Early lot owners included C. H. Beauchamp, A. M. Penry, J. C. McKinney, Thomas J. McKinney, John A. McKinney, J. A. Hesser, Dr. J. A. Shegog, E. F. Poss, Dr. F. C. Stevenson, T. G. McNeal, J. L. Fuqua and J. M. Hill.

The cemetery is about one mile west of the Ensign store site. The land was given by J. M. Hill. Dr. W. C. Stout owned the property in 1972. Markers in the cemetery bear the names of many prominent pioneer Ellis County citizens.

The school house was located north of the square. Classes were held during the winter months. In 1895 the teachers were Misses Flora and Mayme Hemphill, and in 1899 and 1902 John P. Boren and his sister, Miss Annie Boren, taught.

Waxahachie Creek was the west boundary line for the Stevenson land which extended to what is known as Ennis-Emhouse road. The Slaters had a home atop a hill overlooking their vast holdings of fertile creek bottom land in addition to farm land on the upper portion.

The Borens also owned a tract of land near the old town. Before Texas was a part of the United States, a Boren received a grant from foreign government which was recorded in land titles at least until 1972. This tract is believed to have been a part of that grant. Another tract was owned by John Parks. There were many by that name who grew up in that part of Ellis County and farmed this tract. Neighbors were George W. Beard, G. W. Allen and W. C. Ellis.

Fate Beard owned a nice two-story house near the cemetery site. One son or grandson lived across the creek n Emhouse in Navarro County. His home was a landmark for many years near Old Burnham Cemetery. Another early day land owner was a Mr. Champion. His sons, John and Bob, reared families on an original tract between Burnham and ennis. R. N. (Bob) Champion married a Fletcher, also an early day family. John married a Land. Hubbard Marcia is another name identified with this long ago settlement.

Old Burnham was an overnight stop between Waxahachie and Corsicana when travel was by horseback or horse-drawn vehicle. This was prior to the old H & T. C. Railroad which drew people from the huge open country to transportation where towns were developed. When Ennis came into being with the coming of the railroad in 1872, Burnham passed out of existence. Although it had been a trading center supplying the needs of the people over a large area, business men pulled up states and moved to Ennis, along with their merchandise and families.

Several communities grew up within a radius of a few miles of Burnham - Corinth, Ensign, Oak Grove, Farmers School, Loli, Hopewell and Leland. Ensign and Oak Grove were successors to some of Burnham's business interests.


A Memorial and Biographical History of Ellis County, Texas, Lewis Publishing Co. Chicago. 1892.
Hawkins, et al, Ellis County History Workshop, History of Ellis County, Texas, Texian Press, Waco, Tex. 1972..
Ellis County Deeds, Bk. E. pp. 580-581.


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