History of Burton

First Permanent Settlement in Geauga County

Colonial Boundaries and Land Disputes

Burton's Resilient Community

Burton is located within the Ohio territory historically known as the Connecticut Western Reserve. During the 17th and 18th centuries, western colonial boundaries were ill-defined and extended westward indefinitely. Connecticut’s western boundary overlapped New York and Pennsylvania, and the colonial territories argued over land claims and boundaries. After the Revolutionary War, in 1786, Connecticut withdrew its claims to western lands, with the exception of a swath of present-day northeast Ohio. In the late 1790s, the Connecticut Land Company purchased and oversaw the settlement of the eastern two-thirds of the Western Reserve in Ohio, including Geauga County.

As the earliest settlement in the county, Burton is known as a quintessential Western Reserve town. Beginning with the Umberfield family who arrived her in 1798, many early settlers to Burton came from Cheshire, Connecticut. The settlement grew quickly, with two mills operating by 1800, a public school established in 1803, and a collegiate facility, the Burton Academy, completed in 1806. Later development was facilitated by a Baltimore and Ohio railroad station, built in 1874. Although the depot was located two miles away at Burton Station, twice-daily wagon service-connected Burton residents to the station. By 1895, the town had grown sufficiently to be incorporated as a Village.

Small-Scale Manufacturing in Burton

Economic Stability Achieved

Never dominated by industry, Burton did acquire some small-scale manufacturing interests after the Civil War. Cheese factories and the Burton Handle Company were the most notable. Two cheese factories were operated in 1880, providing an outlet for the area’s many dairy farmers. One was located at the natural spring where the Umberfields had first settled.

Burton’s post-Civil War “boom” lasted until 1903, when a local bank failure caused the decline. The bank’s collapse resulted in several long-standing businesses failing, including the Burton Handle Company. Burton’s economic recovery was due, in part, to the Belle-Vernon Creamery, which replaced its old factory on Spring Street with a new larger facility in 1905. Throughout the remainder of the 20th century, Burton realized economic and residential stability. Since 1890, Burton’s population has not deviated dramatically from 1200 inhabitants.

The Mayors of Burton

2020-Present ~ Ruth Spanos
2018-2019 ~ Joe Hernandez
2016-2018 ~ Jim Koster
2012-2015 ~ Nicholas Fischbach
2008-2011 ~ Thomas Blair, Sr.
2004-2007 ~ Nicholas Fischbach
2000-2003 ~ George Chittle
1992-1999 ~ Nicholas Fischbach
1980-1991 ~ James Clarke
1979 ~ Dorothy Wintermute
1972-1979 ~ Richard Malkowski
1960-1971 ~ Lewis Paltza
1956-1959 ~ George Green
1952-1955 ~ Robert Grief
1948-1951 ~ Paul Gather
1942-1947 ~ B. J. Shanower
1940-1942 ~ David Henderson
1928-1939 ~ A. E. Lewis
1924-1927 ~ N. M. Osborn
1920-1923 ~ P. W. Merriman
1916-1919 ~ R. C. Gallagher
1914-1915 ~ S. H. Welch
1908-1914 ~ G. B. Fox
1904-1907 ~ Dr. A. D. Warner
1900-1903 ~ H. C. Tuttle
1896-1899 ~ George H. Ford

The first election was held April 1, 1895.

Burton Memory Project

The Burton Public Library and the Historic District Association have compiled pictures, various events, and other information to remember the people of our community. Please visit the Burton Memory Project website.