Burlington, Wisconsin

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This article is about the City of Burlington, Wisconsin. For the Town of Burlington, Wisconsin, see Burlington (town), Wisconsin. For the second capital of Wisconsin Territory, see Burlington, Iowa.
City of Burlington
Downtown Burlington
Downtown Burlington
Nickname(s): Chocolate City, U.S.A.
Motto: The town with Tall Tales
Location of Burlington within Wisconsin
Location of Burlington within Wisconsin
Coordinates: 42°40′40″N 88°16′41″W / 42.67778°N 88.27806°W / 42.67778; -88.27806Coordinates: 42°40′40″N 88°16′41″W / 42.67778°N 88.27806°W / 42.67778; -88.27806
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Racine, Walworth
Incorporated (village) 1886
Incorporated (city) 1900
Named for Burlington, Vermont
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Mayor Bob Miller
 • Administrator Kevin Lahner
 • Common Council 8 aldermen from 4 districts
 • Total 7.73 sq mi (20.02 km2)
 • Land 7.50 sq mi (19.42 km2)
 • Water 0.23 sq mi (0.60 km2)  2.98%
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 10,464
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 10,508
 • Density 1,395.2/sq mi (538.7/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 53105
Area code(s) 262
Website www.burlington-wi.gov

Burlington is a city in Racine and Walworth counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin,[4] with the majority of the city located in Racine County.[5] The population was 10,464 at the 2010 census. All of it was in the Racine County portion of the city.


Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the area, Native American mounds were constructed in what is now Burlington. Although around 1830 a small Potawatomi village stood in what is now the Town of Burlington,[6] there was no Native American settlement in the area encompassed by the present city.

The earliest certain European presence in what is now Burlington was in the fall of 1799, when a group of French explorers and missionaries, led by Francis Morgan de Vereceones, made a portage from the Root River to the Fox River, reaching the Fox at about Burlington's present location.[7]

The earliest European settlers in Burlington were four men: Moses and Lemuel Smith, the sons of a Revolutionary War veteran, Benjamin Perce, and William Whiting, all of whom arrived on December 27 or December 28, 1835[8] and built a cabin;[9] Moses Smith and Whiting had been in the area previously, making a so-called "jackknife claim" (carving their names and the date on trees in the vicinity), on December 15, 1835.[8][10] Other settlers arrived in the spring and summer of 1836, mostly from New England;[11] they named their settlement Foxville.[10] In 1836, the residents of what was then known as Foxville unanimously decided to change their settlement's name to "Burlington", after Burlington, Vermont;[12] Foxville continued to be used, however, until the name was officially changed on July 15, 1839.[10]

Until that time, Foxville had been in Michigan Territory; on July 3, 1836, however, the act of Congress organizing the Wisconsin Territory went into effect. When counties were created, Foxville fell within the borders of Milwaukee County, which at that time included, the present-day county of Racine. On December 7, 1836, Racine County, containing Foxville, was separated from the rest of Milwaukee County. Foxville became the official name of the settlement on March 21, 1837, when the first post office was created, with Moses Smith as the first postmaster. In May 1837, a sawmill, the first frame building in the settlement, and a dam on the Fox River were completed.[13]

On January 2, 1838, Rochester township, which included Foxville, as well as all of Racine County west of Mount Pleasant was established. On March 9, 1839, Burlington township, including at the time what is now the Town of Dover and much of Brighton, was separated from Rochester.[13]

Burlington was a New England settlement. The original founders of Burlington consisted entirely of settlers from New England. These people were "Yankee's", that is to say they were descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. They were part of a wave of New England farmers who headed west into what was then the wilds of the Northwest Territory during the early 1800s. Most of them arrived as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal. When they arrived in what is now Burlington there was nothing but dense virgin forest and wild prairie, the New Englanders laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. They brought with them many of their Yankee New England values, such as a passion for education, establishing many schools as well as staunch support for abolitionism. They were mostly members of the Congregationalist Church though some were Episcopalian. Due to the second Great Awakening some of them had converted to Methodism before moving to what is now Burlington. Culturally Burlington, like much of Wisconsin, would be culturally very continuous with early New England culture for most of its early history.[14]

From 1844 to 1850, the town of Voree, just to the west of Burlington, was the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), one of many sects founded during the succession crisis following the death of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Jr.. Although Strang's group relocated to Beaver Island, Michigan in 1850, his parents remained in Voree. After Strang was shot by two disgruntled members in 1856, he was taken to Voree where he died. He is buried in a cemetery in Burlington. Strang's church still maintains a congregation in Voree, and the local historical society has erected a monument to the Mormon settlement there.

Burlington was incorporated as a village in 1886; in 1900 it became a city.[10]

Brewing history[edit]

Finks and Uhen Brewery

(See Wisconsin breweries)


Burlington is located at 42°40′40″N 88°16′41″W / 42.67778°N 88.27806°W / 42.67778; -88.27806 (42.677945, -88.278279).[15]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.73 square miles (20.02 km2), of which, 7.50 square miles (19.42 km2) is land and 0.23 square miles (0.60 km2) is water.[1]

The community of Voree, home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), is located just outside the city.


Climate data for Burlington, Wisconsin
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 60
Average high °F (°C) 26.0
Average low °F (°C) 8.7
Record low °F (°C) −27
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.4
Source: [16]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 993
1870 1,589 60.0%
1880 1,611 1.4%
1890 2,043 26.8%
1900 2,256 10.4%
1910 3,212 42.4%
1920 3,626 12.9%
1930 4,114 13.5%
1940 4,414 7.3%
1950 4,780 8.3%
1960 5,856 22.5%
1970 7,479 27.7%
1980 8,385 12.1%
1990 8,855 5.6%
2000 9,936 12.2%
2010 10,464 5.3%
Source: U.S. Census[17]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 10,464 people, 4,240 households, and 2,702 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,395.2 inhabitants per square mile (538.7/km2). There were 4,529 housing units at an average density of 603.9 per square mile (233.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.8% White, 0.9% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 3.4% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.6% of the population.

There were 4,240 households of which 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.3% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.03.

The median age in the city was 38.6 years. 25.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.5% were from 25 to 44; 26.2% were from 45 to 64; and 15% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.7% male and 52.3% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 9,936 people, 3,838 households, and 2,590 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,667.9 people per square mile (643.7/km²). There were 3,976 housing units at an average density of 667.4 per square mile (257.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.89% White, 0.37% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 2.21% from other races, and 0.85% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.65% of the population.

There were 3,838 households out of which 36.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.8% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.5% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.8% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,365, and the median income for a family was $54,045. Males had a median income of $38,471 versus $25,082 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,789. About 3.7% of families and 5.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.2% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.

Law and government[edit]

City hall

Burlington has a mayor-council form of government, with a city administrator.[5] The mayor is the city's chief executive, responsible for seeing that state law and city ordinances are enforced.[19] Mayors are elected to two-year terms;[20] the current mayor is Bob Miller.[19]

The Common Council is composed of eight aldermen, two in each of Burlington's four districts.[21] In every year's spring election, one alderman is elected from each district. Aldermen serve two-year terms.

The city administrator is appointed by the Common Council to oversee the routine operations of the city.[22]

As of 2004, the Burlington Police Department employed 32 full-time personnel; the Fire Department employed four full-time personnel and 50 volunteer firefighters.[5]


The first school classes in Burlington were taught in 1838. One of the first teachers was William P. Lyon, later a Justice of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. The settlement's first schoolhouse was built in 1839, and classes were taught there irregularly for the next 15 years.[23] An act of the Wisconsin Legislature in 1857 incorporated the Burlington Union School District of Racine County. In 1858 and 1859, a schoolhouse was built for the district's use.[24] Now called Lincoln School (Burlington, Wisconsin), the building is now used as the headquarters for the Burlington Area School District. Early quarrels about the management and costs of the school led to the creation of two rival school boards, each claiming to be legal; a new board gained control in 1861, and lasting stability came to the system in 1872.[25]

Burlington is now served by the Burlington Area School District.[26] The district has eight schools, six in Burlington.[27] A campus of the Gateway Technical College is also in Burlington.[5]

Private and parochial schools[edit]

Burlington's first private school, the Burlington Academy, was founded in 1844 as a result of dissatisfaction with the other schools operating at the time. One of its early teachers was John F. Potter, later a Congressman from Wisconsin.[28] The Burlington Academy no longer operates.

Private and parochial schools in Burlington include:

Burlington is the home of the 2007−2008 Capuchin Franciscan Novitiate for Friars in Formation for religious life.

Culture and points of interest[edit]

Burlington is nicknamed "Chocolate City, U.S.A.", because of the Nestlé chocolate factory built there in 1966. It is also home to an annual ChocolateFest on Memorial Day weekend.

Since 1929, Burlington has also been the home of the Burlington Liars' Club.

The Malt House Theater,[29] the building being the former home of the Finke-Uhen Brewery, is located along the Fox River within the city of Burlington, and the theater is home to the community theater company Haylofters, Inc. Haylofters has been in continuous operation since 1932.[30]

Sports and recreation[edit]

The Burlington Little League was named District 6 All-Stars, state majors champions in 2010 and 2013.

In 2006, the semi-pro football team, the Burlington Blue Devils, was established.[31]

Home of the Burlington Barons, a semi-pro baseball team that is part of the Land O'Lakes League Southwest Division. They play at Beaumont Field.[32]

Anglers enjoy fishing on Echo Lake and on the Fox River.


Burlington Free Press building

The first newspaper in the Burlington area was the Voree Herald, published in Voree in January 1846 by James Strang, the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). Its primary purpose was to inform his congregation about events in the wider Latter Day Saint movement. The paper was renamed the Gospel Herald in September 1847, and continued to be published until 1850, when most of the church relocated to Beaver Island in Lake Michigan.[33]

The first newspaper published in Burlington intended for a general audience was the Weekly Burlington Gazette, first published on April 8, 1858. The newspaper was strongly Republican[34] and continued until December 11, 1860, when its owner moved to Houston, Texas.[34]

From 1860 until 1863, no newspaper was published in Burlington.[34] On October 14, 1863, the Burlington Standard, another Republican newspaper, was founded.[33] In 1881, the paper became largely nonpartisan,[33] but in April 1886, with a new owner, the paper was renamed the Standard Democrat and became strongly pro-Democrat.[35] From 1896 to 1911, the Standard Democrat was also published in German under the name Der Standard Demokrat.[35]

The Burlington Democrat, a newspaper with Democratic leanings, was first published in 1880 as a counter to the Republican Burlington Standard. Its name was soon changed to the Burlington Free Press, and its leanings changed to Republican at about the same time the Standard became the Standard Democrat.[35]

The weekly Burlington Standard Press is currently published in Burlington;[5] the daily Racine Journal-Times,[5] Kenosha News, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are also available in the area.

Around 1989 Win-TV (now WIN Media, Inc. - http://www.winmediainc.com/) was created by current owner and President, Shad Branen. according to their web site they began as a producer of local news and sports programming televised throughout Southeastern Wisconsin on CNN Headline News. Since then their services have expanded to include an array of multimedia services for their clients.

WBSD (89.1 FM - http://www.wbsdfm.com/) is a high school radio station licensed to serve Burlington, Wisconsin, US. The station is owned by the Burlington Area School District and operated by the staff and students of Burlington High School (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WBSD). WBSD first broadcast on April 7, 1975, under the direction of general manager and broadcasting teacher Terry Havel. WBSD broadcasts a community-oriented adult album alternative (aka "Triple A") music format. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to its usual music programming, WBSD airs live play-by-play broadcasts of Burlington High School sporting events.


Major highways[edit]

The following highways pass through or near Burlington:[5]

Interstate highways[edit]

  • I-43.svg I-43 is eleven miles west of the city.
  • I-94.svg I-94 is twenty miles east of the city.

Federal highways[edit]

  • US 12.svg US 12 is ten miles southwest of the city.
  • US 45.svg US 45 is thirteen miles east of the city.

Wisconsin highways[edit]

County highways[edit]

  • WIS County A.svg Racine County Highway A
  • WIS County E.svg Racine County Highway E
  • WIS County FF.svg Racine County Highway FF
  • WIS County J.svg Racine County Highway J
  • WIS County P.svg Racine County Highway P
  • WIS County W.svg Racine County Highway W
  • WIS County D.svg Walworth County Highway D
  • WIS County DD.svg Walworth County Highway DD


Train station

The first railroad to pass through Burlington was built in 1855 by the Racine, Janesville and Mississippi Railroad Company. Its construction nearly bankrupted Racine. The line was later reorganized as the Western Union Railroad and eventually incorporated into the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Company, .[36] (better known as the Milwaukee Road) On the Milwaukee Road, this line was referred to as the "Racine & Southwestern" Division and is often referred to as the "Southwestern" Line.

In 1856, Burlington invested in the Fox River Valley Railroad of Wisconsin, a planned railroad that would have started in Milwaukee, connected to the railroad already in Burlington, and continued on to the Fox River Valley Railroad of Illinois. The roadbed was built, but because of the failure of the company, rails were never laid.[36]

The railroad currently operating through Burlington was constructed in 1885-1886 by the Wisconsin Central Railroad. The Wisconsin Central was acquired by the Minneapolis St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway in 1908, and later merged with the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway in 1961 to create the Soo Line Railroad.

The Milwaukee Road operated its last train west of Burlington in 1982. In 1985 the Soo Line purchased what remained of the Milwaukee Road, and reorganized their existing line through Burlington as a part of a new subsidiary known as Lakes States Transportation Division in 1986. Lakes States did not achieve the cost savings that the Soo Line had envisioned and was sold to the new Wisconsin Central Transportation, which commenced operations on October 11, 1987. The Wisconsin Central Limited was acquired by the Canadian National Railway in 2001. The Canadian National Railway remains the operator of the rail line through Burlington.


Burlington Municipal Airport is in Burlington.[5]

Notable residents[edit]

Notable people who were born in or resided in Burlington include:



  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  4. ^ "Subcounty population estimates: Wisconsin 2000-2008" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Economic Profile" (PDF). Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. December 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  6. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 1. 
  7. ^ "Probable That First White Man Passed Through What is Now City of Burlington in Fall of 1799". The Standard Democrat (Burlington, Wisconsin). November 16, 1923. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  8. ^ a b Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 3. 
  9. ^ McCumber (November 9, 1923). "Early History of City of Burlington". The Racine Daily Journal (Racine, Wisconsin). p. 1. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Synopsis of Early Days of Burlington, Wisconsin". Burlington Historical Society. 2008-03-30. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  11. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 4. 
  12. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 5. 
  13. ^ a b Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 6. 
  14. ^ Southeastern Wisconsin: a history of Old Milwaukee County, Volume 3 John Goadby Gregory S.J. Clarke, 1932
  15. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  16. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Burlington, Wisconsin, United States of America". Weatherbase. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  17. ^ Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (July 2004). "The Population of Southeastern Wisconsin" (PDF). Technical Report Number 11 (4th Edition). Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  18. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  19. ^ a b "City of Burlington Mayor". City of Burlington. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  20. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 121. 
  21. ^ "Aldermanic Representatives". City of Burlington. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  22. ^ "City of Burlington City Administrator". City of Burlington. 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  23. ^ a b Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 10. 
  24. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 26. 
  25. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. pp. 26−27. 
  26. ^ "Home". Burlington Area School District. BASD. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  27. ^ "Schools". Burlington Area School District. BASD. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  28. ^ a b Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. pp. 25−26. 
  29. ^ http://www.madstage.com/venues/venue.html?id=malthousetheater
  30. ^ http://www.madstage.com/companies/haylofters.html
  31. ^ http://www.hometeamsonline.com/teams/default.asp?u=DEVILS05&t=c&s=football&p=custom&pagename=Team%20History
  32. ^ http://www.leaguelineup.com/lolbaseball
  33. ^ a b c Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 37. 
  34. ^ a b c Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 25. 
  35. ^ a b c Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 38. 
  36. ^ a b Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 21. 
  37. ^ "Business anniversary: Cannella Response Television," The JournalTimes, August 15, 2009. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  38. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. pp. 27−28. 
  39. ^ Leander Frisby
  40. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/millepa01.shtml
  41. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. p. 30. 
  42. ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/rothbr01.shtml
  43. ^ http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=rothfr01
  44. ^ http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/scadden-schafe.html#R9M0JBYBZ
  45. ^ Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. pp. 13−14. 
  46. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1981-1982, Biographical Sketch of Mary K. Wagner, pg. 65
  • Apps, Jerry (1992). Breweries of Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. 
  • Meurer, Fran; Don Reed (1991). Burlington, Wisconsin: The First 150+ Years. Burlington, Wisconsin: Burlington Historical Society. 

External links[edit]