Weston MO History - Peter Hardeman Burnett - California's 1st Governor
Cactus Creek is located in the historic town of Weston, Missouri - just 15 minutes north of the Kansas City Airport. Just a couple of blocks up Main Street from our shop sits the Weston Historical Museum where tens of thousands of archives are stored about the interesting people who have passed through Weston - some who stayed and made a life here - some who were here just long enough to get a mention in the history books. One such man was Peter Hardeman Burnett.
Peter Burnett was born in Tennessee in 1807 and eventually made his way to rural Missouri. In addition to his businesses in the region that included a store, sawmill and distillery - Burnett was also an attorney and served as a District Attorney in the state of Missouri. One of his most notable assignments as an attorney was representing Joseph Smith and other leaders of the Latter Day Saints accused of treason following the Mormon War in 1838.
In the fall of 1842 Burnett had moved to Weston, Missouri where he found himself deeply in debt from money owed on debts that dated back to his years in Tennessee. His wife was also very ill leaving him at a cross roads in life. That winter he read a report about Oregon and the great migration heading that way. There was a bill pending in Congress that said each emmigrant to Oregon would receive 640 acres of land for himself, and 160 for each child. With six kids this would entitle him to 1600 acres. The call to head west was too loud to ignore.
He went about gathering local families and supplies and in May of 1843 he left Weston with a wagon train that consisted of over 800 men, women and children, crossing the Missouri River in Leavenworth, Kansas and beginning his journey westward.
Six years later, in 1849, Burnett was elected the first American Governor of California. From Main Street in Weston, to a prominent leader in America's expansion out west, Burnett was here for a short time but his spirit of adventure lives on.
For more about Burnett please check out the sources listed below, including a book he wrote entitled Recollections and Opinions of an Old Pioneer, published in 1880.