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Wayne O. and Gayle Carns Burchett papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0355

Scope and Content

The collection (1855-2009, undated) documents the history of the Burchett family and includes correspondence, diaries, birth records, autograph books, account books, business records (cattle, ranch and accounting), deeds, photographs, news clippings, brief histories of the century farm, wills and obituaries, genealogical records of Wayne's family, 4H record books and related records, and a description of the collection's documents by Anne Barton (Wayne and Gayle's daughter).

The collection contains materials on the families of both Wayne and Gayle, although a majority of the records relate to Wayne's family and the operations of the century farm. The cattle operations records document the cattle raising aspect of the entire farm operation and include sale bills and catalogs related to the cattle auctions, an article of incorporation, news articles, business cards, and photographs. The farm operation records include land records, sale bills, photographs, news clippings, equipment purchases and use, a cattle inventory (1997), and brief histories of the farm along with an account written by Wayne Burchett. According to Anne Barton (Wayne and Gayle's daughter), the 1875 State of Iowa Patent No. 18045 was probably framed (Artifact No. 2009-153.002) by Wayne using wood from the walnut trees grown on the family farm. The belt buckle (Artifact No. 2009-153.001) was made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Burchett Ranch and its century farm status. Wayne did some of the sculpture work for these buckles himself, and the buckle in the collection was 1 out of 100.

The birth records and obituaries contain biographical information on members of both Wayne and Gayle's families while the genealogy records (birth and death dates, family tree, newspaper story, brief history of Coon family, photographs) pertain only to Wayne's family. The collection also contains records related to the community, 4H activities, rural electrification in Iowa and the Burchett's community, marriage records (of Orval Burchett and Mary Alice Coon and Wayne and Gayle) and school records of both Wayne and Gayle. The 4H record books were created by Cathy Burchett, Wayne and Gayle's daughter. Cathy was a member of the Richland Ridge Runners, where her mother was a 4H leader.

A more detailed description of the records in the collection, along with commentary and memories by its author Anne Barton (Wayne and Gayle's daughter), can be found at the front of the collection.


  • 1855-2009, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Wayne Oscar Burchett was born December 25, 1920 to Orval and Alice Burchett at their family farm near Grand River, Iowa. Gayle Elaine Carns was born March 31, 1925 to Francis and Lucille Carns in Adams County, Iowa. Wayne graduated from Grand River High School in 1938 and Gayle from Murray High School in 1942.

Gayle and Wayne married on July 18, 1942 and had two daughters, Anne Barton and Cathy McCabe. The family lived on their century farm, Orval Burchett and Sons Hereford Ranch, near Grand River. Wayne raised Herefords on the farm which had been in his family for three generations, and was also a member of the American Hereford Association. In addition to the century farm, Wayne owned and operated several accounting, insurance and tax service businesses throughout his career (including the Wayne O. Burchett Agency Ltd. in Murray and Kellogg, Iowa and the Burchett and Overholtzer Agency in Grand River, Iowa). In 1998 Wayne served as president of the Iowa Accountants Association. In addition to his professional activities, Wayne was also active in his community and interested in creative pursuits such as oil painting, carpentry, leathersmithing, building, invention and music. When he was young, Wayne was a 4-H member and showed prize-winning Hereford cattle at the fair. As an adult, he served as a 4-H leader and County Fair Board member. From birth until 1995, when he underwent surgery, Wayne never missed attending a single Iowa State Fair.

In addition to being a homemaker, helping Wayne on the farm, and raising their two daughters, Gayle served as a girls' 4-H leader in Decatur County for the Richland Ridge Runners. Gayle loved to dance, sing, and play the piano and banjo. When her daughters Anne and Cathy were older, Gayle worked at several jobs to earn extra money, such the Snowden lingerie factory in Osceola, the O'Bryan Brothers in Leon and at the Clarke County Hospital.

The Burchett's ranch began as a farm in 1890 when Marshall and Sarah Burchett purchased the land, located six miles north of Grand River, and started a farm and blacksmithing operation. Marshall began breeding Herefords after hearing about and investigating the new breed in the United States. Marshall purchased five heifers, and the herd descended from these five original heifers (the female line remained closed throughout the farm's operation). In 1920 their son, Orval, took over the farm with his wife, Alice. Orval and Alice had four children: Wayne O., Wanda, Wilda and Orval Wade. Wayne and Orval Wade ran the ranch with their father until World War II when Orval Wade left for military service, returning in 1946 with his wife Yvonne. In 1950 Wade left the ranch, selling his share to his brother Wayne. Wayne was the sole owner and operator of the farm until his retirement. Gayle Burchett was later forced to sell the family farm.

Wayne died March 23, 2001 in Mount Ayr, Iowa and was followed by his wife Gayle on February 6, 2008, also in Mount Ayr.


1.93 Linear Feet (2 document boxes, 1 half document box and 1 oversize box)

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0355. Wayne O. and Gayle Carns Burchett papers, 1855-2009, undated
December 12, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672