Century Farms

  12 MAY 1951

Burton Farm

For the second time in its 117-year history, the Hiram Burton farm, at 159 Lake Avenue Brocton, has been left in the care of a farm wife at the owner's death.

The dairy and vineyard farm is now being operated by Mrs. Mildred Burton, wife of the late Montgomery S. Burton, great-grandson of the farm's first owner.  Helping out is her son, Montgomery R. Burton, 17, who made 4-H Club history for the county last February when he won the 10-county Western New York 4-H poultry contest.

The Burton family history in this county originated about 1818, when Simon Burton took a 1,000-acre plot from the Holland Land Company at the mouth of Slippery Rock Creek, a mile and a half from Mrs. Burton's farm, and established a sawmill.

Hi son, Hiram Burton, who was born in Corydon, N.H. in 1799, came here with his seven brothers and sisters about 1828.  He purchased an adjoining 70-acre plot in 1834 and 1836, for a total price of $353, from the Holland Land Company.

He brought his wife, the former Harriett Skinner, Norwhich to Brocton with him.  They had seven children of their own, and adopted two others.  Mrs. Burton still has a spinning wheel and reel used by Mrs. Hiram Burton.

One tragic incident which remains in the family's legends concerns a set of dishes, for which the family had saved for a long time.  Mrs. Burton wove cloth to earn a little money for the dishes.

When at last the money was accumulated, Hiram set out on horseback for Dunkirk and bought the set.  On the return trip, when he was nearly home, the horse stumbled and most of the dishes, which were in saddlebags, were smashed.

The door of their home was fastened with a latch-string with a corn cob on the end.  Shortly after the remainder of the dishes had been taken home, a cow broke into the kitchen, tipped over the table and broke the rest of them.

Hiram Burton is believed to be the first man ever to make an iron water wheel.  This wheel is still in existence on the Simon Burton place.  Mrs. Burton also has a tin lantern, used for night chores; a set of candle molds; and a small, hand-made table used in the first Burton log cabin, which were given to her by cousings of her late husband.

Education was a valuable commodity, and the boys walked to school at what is now the Fredonia State Teachers College.  Along the short-cut route were several stones, where they were accustomed to stop and recite, their lessons on the way to and from school.

The present house and part of the present barn were built by Hiram about 1858.  Mrs. Burton believes this is the correct date, because a plan for the house is contained in a ledger, which she still has, dated that year.

Originally 11 rooms, the house has been expanded to 14 rooms by finishing a former woodshed at the rear.  An old well under this part was used until recently for cooling milk, but has now been covered.  The walls of the house are planked, but have been insulated and the house has been shingled.

A second barn, referred to as the horse barn, was built on the farm in 1883.  This was joined to the original part of the barn in 1926 and the entire building is now used to house the dairy herd.

Two of Hiram Burton's sons, Salmon and Chester, set out the vineyards and orchard which are still producing.  Livestock on the farm at that time included sheep, pigs, and cows and horses.

Salmon Burton was born in 1858 in a log cabin on the Hiram Burton farm at the mouth of Slippery Rock Creek.  He purchased the farm from his father for $2,000, and later sold part of the land to a Mr. Hull.  This portion later became parts of the Howard Everett, Carl Spoto and E.A. Calkins farms.

Salmon Burton married Mary Moore, and after her death he married Kate A. Montgomery in 1883.  Salmon died in 1893, one year after his father's death, leaving his second wife to run the farm.

Montgomery S. Burton, son of Salmon and Kate Burton was 6 years old when his father died.  He worked on the farm, helping his mother, until he took it over by inheritance at 21.  In 1917 he married Mildred Hull, Portland, who now owns and operates the farm.

There were only three cows when Montgomery started operating the farm.  He built it into a dairy fam, and at one time had 38 head of cattle.  He operated a milk route for a time.

After his death the heard began to grow smaller.  Mrs. Burton says that a scarcity of efficient help has been largely responsible for the reduction in operations.  However, she still keeps a dairy herd of 18 mixed cattle.

The farm also has three acres in grapes. Montgomery R. Burton, her son, now 17 and a sophomore at Westfield Central School, had a flock of 500 chickens which he keeps as a 4-H project and for revenue.  Mrs. Minnie Harris Bull, 86, Mrs. Burton's mother, also lives on the farm.