E.R. (Ezra) Burkholder was ahead of his time.
An ambitious and progressive man, he came to Hillsboro in 1882 from Ontario, Canada.
Of a Swiss Mennonite heritage, Burkholder was a bank bookkeeper in Hillsboro, leaving that profession when he had an opportunity to become a working partner with a Chicago lumber wholesaler.
In January 1885, the Marion Record reported Burkholder had purchased the lumberyard.
“He is a fine gentleman and wish him abundant success,” the article stated.
“He owned a string of 10 lumberyards,” said Peggy Goertzen, director of Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies at Tabor College.
His lumberyards were located in Canada, Canton, Florence, Galva, Hillsboro, Lincolnville, Lost Springs, McPherson, and Peabody.
Goertzen also verified that Burkholder purchased the business in late 1884 even though the newspaper accounting was in 1885.
In 1886, E.R. Burkholder Lumber Co. was formed.
E.R. Burkholder Lumber Co. remained in the Burkholder family until 1971, when M.V. Hefley, a longtime employee, purchased the firm, renaming it The Lumberyard. The Hefley family continues to own and operate the business, which has been in continuous operation for 125 years.
A home by Ezra and Vinnie (Tubbs) Burkholder built across the street from The Lumberyard, on the southwest corner of Ash and Grand streets, remains, as does the store itself, built in the late 1800s.
Earlier this year, The Lumberyard expanded operations into a new building on the site. The historic building at Ash and Grand streets remains in operation.