The Reverend George Bratton, delegate to the Big Springs Convention, was born in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania in 1816. He trained as a carpenter and moved west to Indiana County where he married and began preaching the gospel as a member of the Methodist Conference. In 1845 he became a member of the United Brethren in Christ. Bratton moved to Kansas with an American Settlement Company group from Pennsylvania in 1854. Bratton and others were robbed on a Missouri River steamboat before reaching Kansas City but they remained undeterred. [Cutler, History, Osage County, Part 6]
Main Street Burlingame
The proposed town was to be laid out with streets one hundred and fifty feet wide.
[Kansas State Historical Society]
The American Settlement Company had been formed in New York City to locate a Kansas town-site hoping to make "Council City" a metropolis. The proposed town was to be laid out with streets one hundred and fifty feet wide, lined with trees. An 80 acre park would be built. In late summer, a committee was appointed to visit Kansas to select a location. They prospected the territory and selected a site just east of Switzler Creek on the Santa Fe Trail. In the fall of 1854 about 200 emigrants started out from the western counties of Pennsylvania to settle in Kansas. [Stewart, Pioneer,1] At Kansas City, some of Bratton's party joined others from New York and elsewhere in the East and in early November, this group of about 100 ventured out onto the prairie. They were slowed by a severe snow storm, but pressed on, arriving in Osage County mid-month. Some selected claims as near the proposed town as possible and began the hard work of pioneering. Many others were so discouraged that "they started back within twenty-four hours." Only fourteen men remained all winter. A few, like Bratton, had brought their families and quickly built cabins or dug caves for the winter. In the spring, others who had staked out claims returned to join the company once more. . [Cutler, History, Osage County, Part 2]
The town's name was changed to Burlingame in 1858 in honor of Anson Burlingame, United States minister to China. By then, the family was well established and built "Bratton House," a tavern and inn. Mrs. Bratton was the proprietor of the inn for many years, while the Reverend Bratton was "occupied with other matters." The first place of worship in the town was the Bratton cabin. Burlingame was an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail and the trail became the main street of the town. A bridge was built across Switzler Creek and saw mills and grist mills started. Some stone buildings were constructed on Main Street before the Civil War. For a period in the 1870's Burlingame was the county seat. [Blackmar, History, 255]
Bratton served as Constable of the District in 1855, was elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Burlingame Township in 1858 and was a member of the Burlingame City Council for 14 years. He was clearly a generous man. The Denison family, newly arrived in Kansas, were in desperate straits in their first winter in 1855-1856. Their baby daughter died from fever and they had no casket. So they traveled down the creek to seek help from the nearest stranger. Bratton, a carpenter " with a heart as big as an ox," came to their assistance:
"Gathering up a black walnut board, a few nails and screws and the necessary tools, they returned to our cabin, took the necessary measurements, and there in the cabin proceeded to make the little casket. When completed, my mother lined it the best she could, laid the little body in it and Mr. Bratton and father carried it three miles, dug the grave and buried it, my father returning home near midnight." [Denison, Early Days, 376]