A special bicentennial






CENTENARIANS - Faith Hanna, left, and E. Marie Burdette,
shown looking for acquaintances in a photo album at
Cumbernauld Village, are about to celebrate their 100th
birthdays - Hanna on Monday and Burdette on Tuesday.
Friends and relatives are planning special celebrations for the
longtime Winfield residents. (Jane Sandbulte/Courier)

Just one day apart,
Faith Hanna and
E. Marie Burdette
will turn a century old.


E. Marie Burdette and Faith Hanna are walking, talking history books. Ask about nearly anything that occurred in Winfield in the past 100 years, and they can give you details.

How about, for instance, the chautauquas held long ago in Island Park? Yes, Faith recalls driving there with her brother in their pony cart and seeing the many buildings overflowing with people during the annual gathering for lectures and concerts. Her grandmother enrolled in the chautauqua course of study, she says, so stayed there overnight in a tent.

One of Marie's fond memories is seeing her grandfather dressed in his Civil War uniform, leaving for the Old Soldiers Reunion that was part of chautauqua.

The two longtime Winfield residents have been asked more questions than usual in recent weeks as their friends and relatives prepare to help them celebrate their 100th birthdays - Faith's on Monday and Marie's on Tuesday. Sometimes in recent years the women have celebrated together, but their centennial birthdays will be celebrated separately.

Their childhood years

Faith was born a century ago at 1203 Hackney in Winfield - the home of her parents, Dr. Claude and Maude (Emory) Martin. Her Grandfather Emory, also a doctor, helped with the birth.

The next day Marie was born in Cedar Vale after the doctor arrived in his horse-drawn buggy. Daisie and A.U. Burdette didn't realize they were having twins, so when a boy, Penrose, arrived, they thought that was it. According to the family tale related through the years, Marie was a surprise.

As girls, Marie and Faith must have crossed paths for the first time after the Burdette family moved to Winfield in 1908. Marie's father, in the hardware business in Cedar Vale, had been offered a job by Daisie's cousin, P.H. Albright, of the Albright land/abstract company.

Much to Marie's chagrin, she didn't advance in school after the family's move.

"The superintendent said anyone coming into the system had to repeat the grade they were in, so I spent two years in third grade," she says. "That's why Faith graduated from high school in 1919 and I graduated in 1920."

Soon after the Burdettes moved here, Marie began taking piano lessons, and that turned out to have a huge influence on her life. Faith says she remembers Marie from their school days and even then Marie was involved with music.

"I should have been, but I wasn't," Faith says. "I love music, but I wasn't a performer. My mother was quite a musician - she both wrote music and played banjo and guitar."

Marie remembers seeing Faith at school, the chautauquas and other activities around town, and also recalls her friendship with Faith's mother.

"Faith's mother and I belonged to some of the same music groups, and I played for her while she sang some of the songs she wrote," Marie says. "She sang a lot - many times at the Episcopalian Church. I still have some of her music."

One of Faith's and Marie's mutual school friends was Julia (Caton) Coe, who lives in Winfield and hopes to celebrate her 100th birthday in December.

"We've been friends for a long time - since fifth grade," Marie says. "I accompanied Julia when she played violin on many occasions. She was sort of sweet on Penrose at one time. We did a lot of things together, like going to their summer home on the Walnut River."

Faith says her family and Julia's both camped in screened tent houses on the Walnut southeast of town in the summer.

"Our fathers drove their horses and buggies into work, and they brought ice to the camp every night," she says. "The Catons later built a cabin there."

All the Martin and Caton siblings attended Kansas State University, she says, and she, Julia and Hortense, one of Julia's sisters, were in the same sorority.

Their middle years

After graduating from high school, which was at the site of today's middle school, Faith earned her undergraduate degree in education from Kansas State in 1924. She then taught English and history at Mankato for a year before returning to Winfield to teach at the junior high.

During Faith's year in Mankato, she had gotten acquainted with a young man named Bob Hanna, and that relationship continued to blossom. They were married June 4, 1925, in Winfield's Grace Episcopal Church.

"I was baptized in that church when I was five months old, confirmed in that church, married in that church and I expect to be buried from that church," Faith says.

The young couple lived in Mankato, her husband's hometown, until returning to Winfield in 1942 at the time of World War II. The Hannas had two children: Jo Ann, who died in 1997 and Robert Martin, a retired career Navy man who lives in Hot Springs Village, Ark. When her children were young, Faith wasn't employed outside the home. Faith's husband was in the hardware business and then worked at Boeing in Wichita before his death in 1952.

"My husband died young, and I've been a widow for about 50 years," she says. "I had started teaching again when there was a shortage of teachers during the war, and I taught in Winfield schools until retiring in 1967. After that I taught briefly at Southwestern in the teacher training program."

Faith got her master's degree from Columbia University in New York in 1956 after attending classes there for several summers.

"The first year I taught I was paid $1,100," she says. "Women couldn't even teach in Winfield if they were married or had bobbed hair. Salaries have changed considerably. Finances have made it necessary for more young women to work now."

In high school, Marie was the school pianist and a charter member of the orchestra, studied organ and began teaching piano. After graduation, she earned a bachelor's degree from the Winfield College of Music, specializing in piano, and two more bachelor's degrees in organ and history from Southwestern College. For several summers she studied advanced organ in Paris with Marcel Dupre, who was said to be the foremost organist/composer/teacher of the time.

After working in the Plattsburgh, N.Y., public schools for a year, Marie joined the faculty at Southwestern in 1925 and taught piano, organ and other music classes there for 45 years. She was active in many music organizations, including locally and on the national level for both the National Federation of Music Clubs and the American Guild of Organists.

She was showered with awards through the years and received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Southwestern in 1981.

Marie was organist at the First United Methodist Church from 1956 until 1983 and continued playing at the early service even after that.

A pianist herself for 90-plus years, Marie gave piano lessons in her home until several months ago - so taught piano for more than 80 years. In fact, she was honored in Topeka last fall for being the oldest employed woman in Kansas.

One of Marie's hundreds - thousands? - of piano students was Faith's daughter.

"I remember going to the recitals when my daughter was taking lessons," Faith says. "Jo Ann learned to play, and it was a joy to her in later years, but she was not outstanding. Marie had some really outstanding students."

Faith says occasionally she and Marie taught the same youngsters.

"She taught music and I taught in public schools," Faith says. "A lot of Marie's students had been students of mine."

Looking back, Marie and Faith can tell lots of stories about changes in transportation in the past century. The horse and buggy is the first mode they remember.

"Then there were mule cars here in Winfield," Faith says. "That was the means of transportation for a lot of people. Then we had the cable cars and the interurban to Arkansas City and later the bus. The bus came by our house, and we could put our son, Martin, on it, and he could ride around town two times for a nickel."

She also recalls the excitement when people first began flying.

"The first time I saw an airplane up close was near what is now the park on East 19th," she says. "It was a private plane. It landed and took people up for a ride. I didn't go, but I well remember. In fact, I remember when we didn't have a car. We didn't have one until I was eight or 10 years old."

Faith rode a train to New York for two summers to attend school and then flew the following year. When her son was in the service, she flew to visit him at all his assignments - including the Philippines.

"The day we moved to Winfield," Marie says, "was the day after they had taken the mules off the street cars."

She also remembers when her father let her drive their first car, which was a Ford. Later she bragged to her mother that she had driven at the thrilling speed of 20 mph.

"I probably saw that same airplane as Faith," she says. "I was taking a piano lesson out in that area. My dad came by and said 'We're going out to see an airplane,' and Mr. Olmstead, my teacher, went with us. Of course, it was exciting. You wondered how in the Sam Hill the plane stayed in the air."

How about changes in the appearance of Winfield?

"It has been so gradual, it hasn't been too obvious," Faith says.

"I can remember when they built the State Bank," she says. "There were four banks on the four corners downtown. We still have two banks, but the other two buildings have had different businesses in them.

"There are still many of the old stone fronts downtown - and a lot of the same houses around town. I can go up and down the streets and tell who lived there and when."

Marie says she, too, recalls friends and acquaintances when going past houses where they once lived.

"Winfield was always interested in education and culture," she says. "We still have our cultural side, but we have many more businesses now."

Their later years

Both women, who now live at Cumbernauld Village, have remained active in their later years - which perhaps has contributed to their long lives.

"I was always active," Faith says. "I learned to swim in the Walnut River really young - I think I was about five years old. Later I took lifesaving and taught swimming at the country club during the summers while I was in college.

"Swimming is wonderful exercise," she says. "I was swimming at Southwestern and at the city pool until I was 97. I would be swimming yet if I could get there, but I don't drive anymore. I quit when I was 97."

She also played tennis and golf for many years but now settles for watching sports on television.

Faith's cousin Jane Lancaster and her husband, George, pick her up for Sunday morning services at Grace Episcopal Church.

"I've done just about everything at church except sing in the choir," Faith says. "I'm resigning as secretary of the altar guild after my birthday. I said I'm not going to do it when I'm 100."

She continues to attend monthly meetings of Entre Nous study club, goes on excursions in the Cumbernauld van and plays bridge with other Cumbernauld residents.

"We play bridge out here two or three times a week," she says. "It keeps the cobwebs out of your mind."

Although music has been the focus of Marie's life, she has always enjoyed good physical health just as Faith has. As long ago as the chautauquas at Island Park, she recalls winning foot races with other youngsters her age. She contributes some of her athletic prowess to her continual attempts to keep up with her twin brother.

Just a few years ago Marie traveled with a group to China and had no problem keeping up with fellow travelers who were decades younger.

Neither woman has a quick answer for why she has outlived nearly everyone her age.

"I can't believe it," says Marie. "I really can't believe it. I've been too busy to have time to think about it."

Her grandfather - the Civil War veteran - and her mother lived into their 90s, and her father lived nearly that long. None of her six brothers and sisters lived to their 90s.

"I guess you'd say it's in the genes," Faith says. "My mother was the oldest of four girls. The youngest died at 88. One was 95, and my mother and one sister were about 92."

Celebrations planned

Mutual friends, including Evelyn McConnell, the Lancasters and Jim and Carlyn Strand, have sometimes hosted joint birthday parties for Marie and Faith. This year each will have her own celebration.

Faith, who didn't want a "big to-do," will be honored at a family dinner hosted by the Lancasters this evening. Among the guests will be her son and daughter-in-law, her two grandchildren and her great-granddaughter.

On Sunday Faith and her relatives will attend the morning service at Grace Episcopal Church and then a birthday dinner at the Winfield Country Club.

Just two blocks up the street, Marie's niece, Jacqueline Hauer, and her family will host a reception for Marie following the 10:45 a.m. service Sunday at the First United Methodist Church. It will be from noon to 2:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall.

A piano recital featuring some of Marie's former students is planned for 3 p.m. July 15 in the church sanctuary.

All of Marie's friends and former students are invited to both celebrations.


If a page is not working properly, or you have a comment or suggestion about this page and/or the Courier Online site as a whole, please e-mail us here at the Courier Online.

Courier Online.ReviewCommentaryCalendarComicsSportsPast issuesMarketsAbout usObituariesHome

This document was last modified June 30, 2001 and is copyright © 2001 by the Winfield Publishing Co., Inc. All rights reserved.