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At age 19, Burk went into business for himself with the purchase of 100 head of cattle, which were wearing the 6666 brand. With the title to the cattle came ownership of the brand. Burnett survived the panic of 1873 by holding over 1,100 steers he had driven to market in Wichita, Kansas through the winter. The next year, he sold the cattle for a profit of $10,000. He was one of the first ranchers in Texas to buy steers and graze them for market.
During the winter of the following year, Burnett bought 1,300 more cattle in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and drove them north up the Chisholm Trail to the open range grazing lands near the Little Wichita River.
Since 1900, Burnett had maintained a residence in Fort Worth, where his financial enterprises were headquartered. He was director and principal stockholder of the First National Bank of Fort Worth and President of the Ardmore Oil and Gin Milling Co. He made frequent trips to his ranches on his own custom-designed railroad car, carrying him from Fort Worth to Paducah, Texas. From there, he hitched his horse and buggy for the 30-mile drive south to Guthrie.
Ted: “I do wish you could have been along on this trip.” The hunters, he explained, had “17 wolves, three coons and any number of rattlesnakes.” The President also wrote,