Chief Abraham Burnett, Potawatomi historical figure
Chief Abram B. Burnett was full-blooded Potawatomi, son of Shau-Uque-Be and Cone-Zo-Quah, daughter of Chief Chebaas. Born in November 1812 on the north side of the Tippecanoe River near Muncie, Indiana, he was later adopted by his mother's cousin, Abraham Burnett and educated at Choctaw Academy in Kentucky. He moved to SE Kansas in the 1840s with his first wife, Dah-Moosh-Ke-Keaw, and settled in the area of Shawnee Co. later know as Topeka in 1848. Here he farmed a large area near Shunganunga Creek [See also 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 and Burnett's Mound and traded horses.   gravestonefenced grave sitefoot stone
fall landsacpe near grave Shunganunga Creek near grave

gravesite visitors

Gravesite site visited
Oct. 2002.

Select thumbnail to see photo.

Burnett was a large man, reportedly weighing nearly 450 lbs. in his later years. He often wore a coat, trousers, and top hat and carried an elaborate silver-topped cane.

Reputely, the only person Burnett feared was his tiny wife, Marie.

portrait photo of Chief Abram B. Burnett See Chief Burnett's sword cane

He was noted as an important mediator among the Potawatomi tribe. He died in 1870 and is buried south and west of Burnett's Mound at Topeka. His gravesite is kept tidy by interested Topekans.

Burnett's second wife, Mary Knofflock Burnet, and children moved to a Potawatomi reservation in Oklahoma after the chief's death.

Burnett photo from
Kansas State Historical Society
Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Historical Burnett Photos
provided by the

Photograph of Chief Abram Burnett in Kansas, early 1860s. The photograph documents Chief Burnett on how he would have looked and dressed on an everyday basis. Chief Burnett is wearing a blanket wrapped around his body telling all he maintained his traditional ways as a Potawatomi Indian. Although many Potawatomis attempted to continue traditional lifestyles, assimilation and acculturation was hard to resist as it was forced upon the Potawatomis by the United States government. Between 1867 and 1869, Chief Burnett was documented in 3 photographs, all taken during important delegations and meetings with government officials. Understanding very well the differences between the Indian world and American ways, Chief Burnett cut his hair and dressed in what was noted by Americans as a more dignified and civilized manner before delegations. Indian chiefs such as Abram Burnett believed this would help in negotiations.

[Burnett is said to have met Abraham Lincoln and admired the president. Abram's youngest son was named Abraham Lincoln Burnett.]

Gary says:
Abram's first wife
was D-Moosh-Kee-Kee-Awh. She died in Kansas after the Potawatomi were forced to leave their home in Indiana and given lands in Indian Territory.
The painting below was done by George Winters in the year 1837. George Winters had also painted one of Abram that same year. We believe probably at the same time as his first wife, but it is nowhere to be found.


—Originals of photos below are property of the Kansas State Historical Society
Chief Abram Burnett photo collage Abram with John Payton Chief Abram B. Burnett wears a white suit Burnett home, Topeka about John T. Peyton

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Page compiled by Carol Yoho
Photos © 2006
Wis-Ki-Ge-Amatyuk Clan

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Below: Grave site panorama. Grave is beside Shunga Creek bank, looking east, at the left in the photo.
Car in the right of the photo is also along the Shunga Creek bank, looking west toward the road.
Select the photo to see the larger version.
Click to enlarge more, if necessary.

Chief Burnett grave site.

Gravesite: May 2007
Stone inscriptionChief Burnett grave site, May 2007Foot stone and headstone

Fenced area east of grave site
Grave site look from west
See also
Paying respects, May 2008

Fence gate, east side of grave, looking south Fenced grave, looking north toward creek bank
Fence at west edge of grave areaInscribed by stone cutters, LeavenworthPlaster rabbit left at grave site

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Abram B. Burnett Obituary  —provided for use on this web site by Gary Sulser Wis-Ki-Ge-Amatyuk, direct descendant of Chief Burnett.

photocopy of Burnett Obituary

paper copy of Burnett grave photo, from family archive

—transcribed, below
    is from a 1870 newspaper article, left

Death of Abram Burnett

Abram Burnett, a hereditary chief of the Pottawatomie tribe of Indians, died yesterday, June 14, at about noon. His funeral will be from his late residence near Topeka, at 2 o’clock this afternoon. Mr. Burnett is well known to the citizens of Topeka. For years, as often as once a week he has been seen in his lumber wagon on our streets, and he never failed until last Saturday, to be present at every circus that has exhibited here. He was the largest male in Kansas, weighing 496 pounds at the time of his death. The amount of flesh he carried made it exceedingly uncomfortable for him to get around. He has carried on farming on a large scale for a long time, and adopted the customs of civilized life, and has been respected by our citizens generally. Mentally, Mr. Burnett was, for an Indian, a remarkable man. He was educated at “Bearwallow,” a school established in Kentucky, by the government for the benefit of the Indians under the supervision of Col. Richard M. Johnson. He followed the migrations of his tribe and his superior education made him a useful man amoung his people. He was a constant reader of newspapers, and was a subscriber to the STATE RECORD from the date of its establishment. Mr. Burnett was twice married; his first wife was an Indian woman, who left no children; his second wife, by whom he had a numerous family, is a German. Wm. Griffenstein, the well-known trader, is one of his sons-in-law, and Mr. Clark, of this city, another. In religion, we believe Mr. Burnett adhered to no particular faith, though he might be classed generally as a Protestant. He was an early friend of the Baptist Mission, established near this city. In his business relations he was strictly upright and honorable. During the war he was a steadfast friend to the Union. His singular personal appearance, his strongly marked Indian features, and immense form will be preserved many years by the numerous photographs which have been circulated through the country. He was born in 1812, and was consequently 58 years of age at the time of his death.

Color grave photos © 2002 by Carol Yoho
Historic Abram B. Burnett photo (above) courtesy of the Kansas State Museum of History
Historic Burnett family photo & obituary photos from
Wis-Ki-Ge-Amatyuk family, descedants of Abram B. Burnett

Gravesite: August 2006
looking west
trees near Shunga Creek
monument and fence looking south
tree growing around fence prairie flower