Gunsmoke Front Page
August 28, 1997
W. Davis Merritt Jr., Editor
The Wichita Eagle
The Eagle's Aug. 22, story about the Milburn Stone home has been sent to me, Milburn's younger brother and a former Eagle reporter, in Connecticut where my wife and I are visiting children and celebrating our 60' wedding anniversary. Our home is Borrego Springs, Ca., 92004.
I suspect the man trying to sell the house in Burrton is enhancing history in order to make the
Milburn was the night telephone operator for a while but not in that house. The telephone office was across the street and cast, a one story building built adjoining the two-story opera house, which burned. He worked there. It was too much for a high school boy. The beginning of the end of his employment was when the phone rang in our home and Milburn, thinking it was the alarm in the 'phone office summoning him from bed to respond, jumped-out of bed on the side he would have jumped from in the telephone office and hit the wall of the bedroom. I believe our sister Glennis took the job for a while but eventually our mother, Laura, took it over permanently. I know where it was because i-ny mothr and I slept there for, perhaps, three years. Gertie Paine was the day operator. 12 hour shifts those days.
Our father died in 1917 when we were living in Larned. I was four, Milburn 12, Glennis 14. We moved to Burrton immediately and lived in a house owned by our grandfather, Joe Stone. It was on a 13 acre tract at the SE corner of town. I was by there on a recent visit to the Milburn Stone Park in Burrton and the house is no longer there.
The Burrton ‘phone company was owned at the beginning of our family connection by Rollie (sp?) King. He sold it to a man named Vest who sold it to the Heiderbrecht family. They moved the switchboard from the office across the street to the Burris house.
Before that we had moved to a house in the block north of the street the Burris house is on. I was owned, as I recall, by Pete Becker, who worked for Harry Harris in the hardware store.
We never owned the Burris property. I don’t know who we rented it from. At one time my mother had it divided. We lived in the east part and the Murray family lived in the west part. They ran the produce house across the street. They were from Halstead, and returned there.
The place was not a gathering place and the town news did not emanate from there. That came from the Burrton Graphic up the street east. Warren Jerome was editor and publisher. The only gathering I recall was when some members of the high school basketball team dressed there before playing a game in the back of Abe Dick’s plumbing shop.
My brother worked for the telephone company when the new lines were being strung and on one occasion saved my life while on that job. That is another story. He also, while we lived in the Becker place, helped paint the Burrton water tower, an employee of the contractors on the job. He was never afraid of heights.
I am retired from the Copley papers in San Diego. I do a column for the bi-weekly Copley paper, the Borrego Sun. Much of the content is about Burrton which, sqliare foot by square foot, is the most colorful place I have known.
Please do not place any blame on Mike Berry, the reporter. Any reporter could have been taken in. I wrote because there is a certain family and professional pride in setting the record straight.
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