Special Collections
LSU Libraries
Home / Online Catalog Site A-Z Help    


Burden (Ione and Family) Papers

(Mss. 3063)

Biographical/Historical Note
Scope and Content Note
Series Descriptions


Size. 23 linear feet.

Geographic locations. Louisiana.

Inclusive dates. 1815-1985.

Bulk dates. 1900-1975.

Languages. English, French, Chinese.

Summary. Correspondence, financial papers, legal documents, printed items, ephemera, scrapbooks, books and photographs of a prominent Baton Rouge family. Later documents reflect the involvement of the Burden family, particularly Ione Burden and Steele Burden at LSU, in community service and with other organizations.

Source. Acquired 1984, 1986, and 1995.

Access. No restrictions.

Related collections. Oral History Interview, 1978. Steele Burden;

The Rural Life Museum Collection (Mss #3151);

Williams, Lester J. Papers, 1853-1950. 77:50-52.

Citation. Burden, (Ione and Family) Papers, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Biographical and Historical Note

Ione Easter, William Pike (Jr.), and Ollie Brice Steele Burden, the principal creators of the family papers, were the children of Ollie Steele and William Pike Burden Sr. (d. 1925) and the grandchildren of Juliet Parks and O.B. Steele and Emma Barbee and John Burden, all residents of Baton Rouge. The Burden siblings lived in Baton Rouge first on College Avenue downtown and later at Windrush, the Burden's 500-acre farm on Essen Lane. William S. Pike had bequeathed the farm to his niece Emma Gertrude Barbee in the early nineteenth century, and she and her spouse John Burden built a home there in 1856, naming it Windrush after the river in Burden's native England.

Their son W.P. Burden Sr. inherited Windrush and he moved his family there in 1921. In 1895, he had married Ollie Brice Steele (1870-1958), daughter of Confederate veteran and Baton Rouge banker O.B. Steele (Captain Steele) and his spouse Juliet Parks. Captain Steele was elected Louisiana State Auditor (1884-92) and subsequently Louisiana State Treasurer, and he organized the Bank of Baton Rouge with William Knox. Ollie Steele and W.P. Burden had three children: Pike, Ione and Steele. All three Burdens were prominent philanthropists in the Baton Rouge community during the twentieth century, contributing their skills and money to the city, LSU, and favorite charities.

Lester James Williams, the Burden's maternal uncle has papers in this collection related to his medical practice, involvement in veterans organizations and the Masons, and his genealogical research. Married to Ollie Steele Burden's sister Mayme Steele, Lester Williams was a radiologist, who served as Chief of Staff at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital from 1927 through 1946 and as president of the Louisiana State Medical Society from 1923 to 1924.

Pike Burden (1898-1965) owned a printing business, Pike Burden, Inc. An avocational magician, he participated in several social organizations geared to philanthropic work with children and the aged. Pike Burden performed his magic act for the entertainment of both school children and retired persons throughout the fifties and the early sixties. A charter member of the Baton Rouge Rotary Club in 1918, he served as vice president and president of the organization in the early 1950's and founded the Rotarian Crippled Children's Fund and the Rotarian scholarship for LSU music students. The only Burden of that generation to wed, he married Jeannette Monroe and with her built a second house at Windrush in 1940, a home later bequeathed to their nephew John Monroe. Pike Burden donated land to establish Hornbeak Park and later Ollie Steele Burden Manor, a retirement home built at Windrush with the help of siblings Steele and Ione in memory of their mother. He contributed money and equipment to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital (OLOL), Baton Rouge, largely to benefit the pediatric ward, and he painted a mural there in the OLOL playroom which he designed and equipped. Burden was an amateur aviator and served on the Baton Rouge City-Parish Airport Commission which was integral in the development of the Downtown and Ryan Airports in Baton Rouge. He helped to organize the local chapters of the Civil Air Patrol and the Fellowship of Quiet Birdmen. As an amateur artist and art admirer, he supported the arts by purchasing the works of contemporary artists, including Louisiana artists.

Ione Easter Burden (1896-1983) had a life-long relationship with LSU, the primary beneficiary of her charity. She graduated from the university in 1917 with a bachelor's degree in English. While attending college, she was an active member of Kappa Delta Sorority, and she served as editor of the Gumbo yearbook. After graduation, she became the assistant registrar (1917-1918).

She later moved to Ruston, Louisiana, accepting the position of registrar at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute (1926-1928) and then to Virginia, working at the College of William and Mary as secretary to the Dean (1929-1932). She returned to LSU in 1933 where she stayed until her retirement in 1961, serving as Assistant to the Dean of Student Affairs, Assistant to the Dean of Women (1933-1947), and Director of Student Activities (1948-1961). LSU awarded Ione and brother Steele honorary degrees of Doctor of Cultural Sciences for their services to the community and the university. She and her brother donated 450 acres of Windrush land for the establishment of the following: Burden Research Plantation, a facility for agricultural research; Ollie Steele Burden Manor; Windrush Gardens, an eight-acre park of landscaped gardens with statuary; and the LSU Rural Life Museum, a complex of buildings and artifacts depicting 18th and 19th-century Louisiana rural culture. She participated in a variety of social and charity organizations including: Kappa Delta Sorority; OLOL auxiliary; Friends of the LSU Libraries; and the Madhatters.

Steele Burden (1900-1995) played the pivotal role in the founding of the LSU Rural Life Museum and Windrush Gardens in 1970, when he transplanted the first historical buildings to Windrush and designed the gardens. Steele Burden brought much of the statuary for the Windrush Gardens from Europe and New Orleans in his youth before his landscaping career began. Although he never earned a formal degree in landscape architecture, he worked for the City of Baton Rouge in the twenties at which time he planted City Park, and he served as the LSU landscaper from 1932 through 1970. He was also instrumental in the landscape design of Shadows on the Teche Plantation in New Iberia, Louisiana and Edward McIlhenny's Avery Island outside New Iberia. He designed the gardens behind the university's Faculty Club and planted many of the crepe myrtle and live oak trees on the campus. He was an avocational artist, and a representative sample of his sketches is among the family papers, though unsigned. Steele Burden fought in both world wars.

Scope and Content Note

The Burden family papers consist of correspondence, legal documents, financial papers, photographs, and printed items which reflect the lives and professions of this prominent Baton Rouge family and its extended family. Early documents (election material, treasurer's reports, and newspaper clippings) pertain to Captain O.B. Steele's elected offices as auditor and state treasurer of Louisiana and his involvement in Baton Rouge banking in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Early photographs include cabinet cards which portray Burden and Steele ancestors; Ione, Steele and Pike Burden as children; Ollie Steele Burden prior to her marriage to W.P. Burden; Ione in her LSU graduation portrait; Windrush Plantation; and the aftermath of the Melville, Louisiana flood (ca. 1920). Later photographs show Pike Burden performing his magic act and participating in Rotary Club events; Ione Burden and Ollie Steele Burden with friends and colleagues; Steele Burden (ca. 1970); and a rural Louisiana family photographed for the Rural Life Museum.

Correspondence deals primarily with the professional lives of Ione Burden in her positions at LSU and Lester J. Williams genealogical research and involvement in professional, medical organizations. Later correspondence includes requests and expressions of gratitude from the numerous beneficiaries of Burden philanthropy including Our Lady of the Lake Hospital; Ollie Steele Burden Manor; the audiences of Pike Burden's Magic Act; and LSU.

The majority of printed items are newspaper clippings from Baton Rouge papers and LSU's Reveille which document the community activities of Ione, Steele, and Pike Burden and activities at LSU.

Scrapbooks from various family members contain newspaper clippings related to family members, ephemera, photographs, cards, post cards, and pictorial memorabilia. Sketches by Steele Burden illustrate French Quarter architecture in New Orleans and Windrush gardens, and blueprints for Ollie Steele Burden show the floor plans and layout of Windrush.

Series Descriptions

I. Correspondence, 1860-1985 (2.5 linear feet)

Correspondence concerns both the personal and professional lives of the Burden family, friends, associates, and the Pike, Steele, and Williams extended families. Principal correspondents are Ione Burden, Steele Burden, and Lester J. Williams chronicling their professional lives as a college administrator, landscape architect, and radiologist respectively. Letters document the philanthropic work (ca. 1940-1970) of Steele and Ione Burden, particularly with the Ollie Steele Burden Manor. The letters of Lester J. Williams document his involvement in medical associations and veterans organizations in the 1930's. Other major correspondents are Pike Burden, (recipient of numerous letters from school children regarding his magic act). Ollie Steele Burden (recipient of letters and cards from family and friends, including letters from friends serving in World War II), and Captain O.B. Steele, whose letter press book is among the bound items in the collection.

II. Financial papers, 1837-1968 (.3 linear feet)

The financial papers of the Burden family include shipping receipts (1837-1849), bank books and statements (1927-1962) merchandise receipts, account journals (1919-1953), mortgage statements, and stock and security summaries. Primary creators and recipients are Ione, Steele, Pike and Ollie Steele Burden and Lester Williams. Financial papers concerning O.B. Steele (1903-1964) reflect his career in banking at the Mercantile Bank and the Bank of baton Rouge. Other financial items (1911-1967) concern a Baton Rouge orphans' home for girls.

III. Legal papers, 1878-1963 (.2 linear feet)

The legal papers consist of Ione Burden's state appointment, passport, and auto registration; Ann Fluker's succession; Louisiana House Resolution #28; and the prospectuses for Episcopal High School and Suburban Electric Co.

IV. Printed items and genealogical material, 1823-1975 (7 linear feet)

Printed items range from newspaper clippings to programs, serials and a Baptismal certificate (1898). Newspaper clippings chronicle the family's social, professional and community involvement and activities in a variety of organizations. Ephemera consists largely of travel, theater, and event items such as tickets, dance cards, and brochures. Printed items (1878-1914) concerning O.B. Steele pertain to his elected offices including campaign material, speeches, reports and clippings and to a Louisiana Supreme Court case. Ione Burden collected numerous newspaper clippings dealing primarily with plantation homes throughout the state. Other items

relate to Kappa Delta Sorority (1944-1972), LSU, and the Madhatters club. Clippings regarding Pike Burden illustrate his community involvement in the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, soap box derby racing, magic and aviation (ca. 1940-1965). Lester Williams' printed material consists of organizational items from veterans' groups (ca. 1938) and medical associations (1928-1957) and his genealogical queries and responses (ca. 1925-1947). Other printed items (1942-1975) relate to the Burden Foundation (including acts of donation, foundation bylaws, maps of the Burden property, a blue print of Ollie Steele Burden Manor and a brochure from the LSU Rural Life Museum) and to Episcopal churches in Baton Rouge (1888-1969).

V. Correspondence and printed items pertaining to LSU, 1889-1979 (2 linear feet)

LSU material contained in the Burden papers pertain to the School of Agriculture, Alumni and Alumnae (newsletters, reunions, etc.), Centennial Celebration, commencement, convocations, football, LSU libraries, Friends of the Library, Gumbo yearbook, law school, greek letter societies, Student government, and military programs. Highlights include: newspaper clippings from the "Stormy" strip tease affair in 1948; issues of The Giggler, an LSU coed publication in the teens; Chronicles of a Coed, a narrative about life and education at LSU by an early female graduate; and an etiquette handbook for LSU women. Many items originate from Ione Burden's office as the Director of Social Activities.

VI. Scrapbooks, books and sketches, 1832-1979 (10 linear feet)

The series contains the scrapbooks of Ollie Steele, pike, Steele, and Ione Burden, and Mayme, Juliet and O.B. Steele. The scrapbooks hold numerous newspaper clippings about the family members and LSU as well as ephemera and some photographs. A family bible inscribed to O.B. and Juliet Steele contains some family dates of birth, death, and marriage. Steele Burden's unsigned sketches illustrate New Orleans' buildings and Windrush.

VII. Photographic material, ca. 1815-1964 (2 linear feet)

Photographs are primarily family and individual portraits of ancestors and the Burdens (especially Ione, Pike, Steele, and Ollie Steele) from childhood through adulthood. Other photographs depict the Burdens with friends and associates, particularly philanthropic beneficiaries; Pike Burden and His Magic Act; Windrush homes; LSU campus and activities; aftermath of the Melville, Louisiana flood (ca. 1920); and tourist pictures from a trip to Europe.