North Dakota rodeo star Newton Burr was born September 25, 1929, in Elbowoods to Oscar and Mary (Wounded Face) Burr. He was a member of Hidatsa Prairie Chicken Clan. He was raised near Mandaree and educated in Elbowoods.
Newton enjoyed being around livestock and loved working with horses, helping with roundups, brandings, chores and horse breaking. He was an excellent horseman and became a great rodeo cowboy.
He entered his first rodeo at age 14 at Burr Crows Breast Rodeo in 1944, placing first in the bareback event. The next year, he won the event’s saddle-bronc championship, and in ’49, he took first place in steer wrestling at the Sanish Rodeo. By the time he was 17, he had first places in three events. He joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association in 1950 and won his first bareback belt buckle at the Sanish Rodeo.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1951-53, earning a Purple Heart. After discharge, he returned to Mandaree and to rodeo. He married in 1955 and raised a family of eight children on a ranch near Mandaree.
In 1961, Newton retired from riding and moved to Texas where he made a living welding. He resumed riding broncs in 1966 and was the Central Rodeo Association saddle-bronc champ in Texas in 1967. Newton got his Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association card again in 1969 and won the Mesquite Saddle-bronc Championship. That year, he also won the Jim Shoulders Championship Rodeo saddle-bronc division and was featured in Western Horseman magazine.
Newton belonged to the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, Cowboy Rodeo Association of Texas, All-Indian Rodeo Association of Oklahoma and Old Timers Rodeo Cowboy Association of Texas. He didn’t hang up his spurs until age 53, after winning five championship saddles.
In 1989, Newton retired from rodeo and moved back to New Town. He was a master craftsman and owned Newt’s Saddle Shop, where he made custom saddles, leatherwork items and horsehair braiding.
After Newton’s death on July 22, 2006, his memory was honored with a Memorial Bull and Bronc Bash at Four Bears Casino.
Dakota Datebook written by Cathy A. Langemo, WritePlus Inc.
ND Cowboy Hall of Fame Cowboy Chronicle – June 2012