Burbank Township has the distinction of being the only place in Kandiyohi County in which a United States Senator was born and raised.
Henrik Shipstead was born and grew to manhood just about the same way most of the young fellows his age in Minnesota did. After completing the eighth grade successfully, they stayed at home, helping on the farm. A few went on through high school and some of them stayed at home as they had all their lives until they married and started farming on their own. Some of them found employment in nearby towns and cities and worked at some of the many jobs to be found there.
Very few went on to college or university to become doctors, lawyers, clergy men and other professional positions. Shipstead chose the latter route and became a dentist with his office in Alexandria, which was close enough to Burbank Township to maintain his relationships there.
There was also considerable disillusionment in the agricultural field at the time Shipstead opened his office in Alexandria. Farmers were unable to pay all their bills when the threshing was done in the fall. They were looking to Washington for support, since American farmers were feeding much of the world. No help was coming from Washington despite campaign promises, and to Shipstead this was the ideal time to enter politics.
He joined the Farmer-Labor party and campaigned every spare moment. His efforts, his rural background and his knowledge of the problems of his constituents helped him win the race handily. He was elected as and continued to be a strong friend of the farmers for a number of terms.
He was a shining example of what an elected official could and should be … and he came from Burbank Township!
Quite a while before Shipstead’s day, Jesse Whitlaw came to Burbank, filed a claim and went back East to bring his wife to help him while he served the community as a Presbyterian minister. He was a “leading spirit” in the community which, at that time, included part of land which is now in Colfax Township. Whitlaw and J.H. Stauffer platted the original Burbank Township. They named it in honor of Henry C. Burbank who was a well-known early merchant and stage coach line owner in St. Cloud.
The first public improvement was the construction of a pole bridge across the Crow River opening access to St. Cloud.
During the U.S.-Dakota War, Burbank residents received an early warning so everyone in the township reached refuges and several of the men went back could find who needed assistance.