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Burnight, Thomas Lot 1859-1917


Posted By: Linda Ziemann (email)
Date: 3/26/2006 at 17:04:22

Source: Akron Register newspaper
Dated July 26 1917


The Grim Reaper again claims a harvest in the community, this time the toll being one of Akron’s most generally esteemed and influential citizens and business men—T. L. Burnight, Sr. A week ago Saturday Mr. Burnight was taken sick, and Dr. Brunner was called, who found him suffering an acute attack of appendicitis and advised that an operation was imperative. Dr. Geo. W. Koch was called from Sioux City on Tuesday for consultation and he also concurred in the opinion that an immediate operation was necessary. It was Mr. Burnight’s request that Dr. J. N. Warren, of Sioux City, perform the operation, but he happened to be out of the city just at that time and did not arrive here until Wednesday, when the operation was done in the Akron hospital. The patient rallied very favorably from the ordeal, and Dr. Koch remained with him until Thursday noon, when he appeared cheerful and stronger. His chances of ultimate recovery seemed most hopeful Friday night, when complications set in that led to the recall of Drs. Warren and Koch from Sioux City. The physicians and two attending nurses did everything that medical skill could devise, but it all proved to no permanent purpose, and Mr. Burnight passed from this life at about 6:30 o’clock Sunday morning, July 22, 1917, at the age of 58 years, 6 months and 6 days.

Thomas Lot Burnight was born at Bowen’s Prairie, Jones county, Iowa, January 16, 1859, and about the year 1876 or 1877 came with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John C. Burnight, and located on a farm on Indian Creek in Portland township, Plymouth county, Iowa. Like many other early settlers their first home here consisted of a sod house, or dugout, where living was at least comfortable, although attended by many inconveniences. The first few years the family met with the adversities and hardships experienced by practically all the pioneers of this section. The subject of this sketch early in life displayed the habits of industry and thrift that laid the foundation for the structure of business success that crowned the efforts of his later years. For a short time he taught country school and afterward took up the more profitable occupation of herding cattle on Plymouth county’s prairies on a quite extensive scale. A few years later, he became associated with his uncle, Patrick Hopkins, in the livestock and grain business, Mr. Hopkins being located at LeMars and Mr. Burnight in Akron, and this partnership continued until about twelve years ago, since which time Mr. Burnight continued the business here. In addition to this, he has carried on quite an extensive business in the buying and selling of farm property in this section during the past dozen or fifteen years, until he had acquired a number of properties that now represent a large financial value. In his estate are also included farms in the vicinity of Plankinton, Mt. Vernon and Geddes, South Dakota. Mr. Burnight always held an abiding faith in the productiveness and future higher values of the farming lands of this locality—especially in the Big Sioux valley. He acquired several good farms here while the selling price was far below their present value, and his confidence and foresight netted a considerable and legitimate profit. The first place he bought was an eighty adjoining the present Strobehn farm, northeast of town. It was while he was a young man, and he needed the range for feeding the cattle he was herding. For this tract he paid the munificent sum of $6.50 per acre, and in the tight financial conditions of those days it became a great problem and worry as to just how he was to meet the payments on the property. But he worked and persevered and finally succeeded, and this same eighty now comprises a part of his estate. Another interesting instance of the trying time of Mr. Burnight’s young manhood and of his determination to overcome obstacles is related in connection with his coming to Akron (then Portlandville) at one time for a couple of sacks of flour and a ham, necessities that happened to be much needed. The storekeeper to whom he applied was not very intimately acquainted with him and was evidently a bit suspicious of his financial resources, as he refused to extend credit for goods. Mr. Burnight then drove 22 miles to LeMars and obtained the required goods in the store of Alex. Reichman after some parleying and persuasion. Arriving home, he discovered the ham to be wormy, which required another trip to the county seat and more persuasion to effect an exchange of hams. That Mr. Burnight was very accurate and systematic in his business dealings is attested that for something like twenty-five years he shipped grain to Poehler & Co., a Minneapolis commission firm, and never happened to make the personal acquaintance of any member of the firm, but in the transaction of a very large volume of business during the quarter of a century there never arose any trouble or disagreements between them. That the grain business was not aways as sinecure is shown by a fact related by Mr. Burnight, that in the panicky days of the early 90’s he bought corn at Chatsworth at 7c per bushel and shipped it to this same Minneapolis firm at a loss of 2c per bushel. Mr. Burnight’s word was as good as his bond, and no man can say that he ever knowingly dealt unfairly. The tenants on his various farms will, without exception, testify to his uniform fairness and to the fact that he was always ready to do just a little more than their agreement called for, and never refused to extend any reasonable favor. Probably due to his early training and the stringent measures required when he was endeavoring to get a start in life, Mr. Burnight was a man of very simple tastes, and was very modest and retiring disposition. He had no desire for social activities or frivolities, yet no one more enjoyed a friendly chat or company of friends. He was by nature kindly and sympathetic, and his heart-strings were easily touched by want or suffering from any worthy quarter. He was ever loyal to the best interests of the community in which he lived. At the time of his death he was a director of the First National Bank of Akron and a member of the loan committee. Mr. Burnight was a liberal provider in the family circle and most of his leisure time was spent in the fine home that afforded him pleasure in his later years. He was married to Kathryn Carol, of LeMars, in 1881, and one son, Thomas Louis, came to bless this union. Besides these loved ones, there are left to mourn three brothers and one sister—Jas. F. Burnight, of Westfield; John Burnight, of Sioux City; Patrick Burnight of Glen Ellyn, Ill.; and Mrs. Geo. Schafer of Chatsworth—also six half-brothers and one half-sister, all of this vicinity. To the devoted wife, son, brothers and sisters, the community tenders its most sincere sympathy in the bereavement so suddenly thrust upon them. His untimely taking away is felt as a personal loss by all who knew him.

The funeral services, held Tuesday forenoon in the Church of St. Patrick, were the most largely attended ever held in the church, and many who came to pay a last tribute or respect were unable to secure even standing room in the edifice. Rev. D.K. Hurley conducted the service and delivered a fine eulogy upon the useful and upright life of the departed. A mark of respect was the closing of local business houses during the funeral, from 10:30 to 12 o’clock. A large number of friends accompanied the remains and the mourners to the Catholic cemetery, where interment was made.
Relatives present from out of town were: John Burnight and family, of Sioux City; Jas. F. Burnight, of Westfield; Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Schafer, of Chatsworth; Mr. and Mrs. Jas. E. Hopkins, of Chicago; Mrs. Ellen Hopkins, of Sioux City; Thos. Hopkins, of Quinn, S.D.; Mrs. Wm. Mullen, of Bloomfield, Nebr.; Mrs. Twohig and son, of Sioux City; William Trautt, of LeSueur, Minn. Among the friends from a distance were Jas. F. Toy, president of First National Bank, of Sioux City; W. J. Downey, manager of Rice Bros Commission Co., at Sioux City; E. A. Fields, of Sioux City; Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Redmond and Attorney John Keenan, of LeMars.

We desire to acknowledge our sincere appreciation of the many kind acts and offers of assistance and for the sympathy expressed during our recent bereavement; also for the beautiful floral offerings.---Mrs. T. L. Burnight, Sr., and Family.


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