Marriage to Burk Burnett
Samuel "Burk" Burnett grew up in Denton County and learned the cattle business working on his father's ranch, eventually becoming his business partner. Burnett had little formal education, but he was hard working and tough, traits that helped him become one of the wealthiest ranchers in Texas. In 1871, he started the legendary 6666 Ranch and is still considered one of the most important figures in Texas ranching history.
In 1870, Burnett married Ruth Loyd, the daughter of the founder of First National Bank Fort Worth, Captain Martin B. Loyd. Loyd became a trusted advisor to his son-in-law, and together they made a fortune in the booming cattle industry. While Burk's cattle business soared, the Burnett marriage crumbled. He was the happiest living and working on his ranches and was away for long periods. Ruth preferred a more comfortable existence in Fort Worth with the couple's children, Tom and Anne. Finally, in 1888, Ruth filed a petition to divorce, in which she accused her husband of "harsh, cruel, and unkind treatment." A divorce was granted, and any settlement Ruth received is unknown.
Burnett was known throughout Texas for his gritty and determined character. It is not known exactly when and how Mary and Burk met, but they traveled in the same social circles in Fort Worth. Mary is known to have stayed with the family of Burk's first wife Ruth while she visited the city. Mary's father also had social connections with Burnett, both men were Freemasons. Both Mary and Burk were single in 1891, and they started a discreet courtship.
Their marriage in 1892 came as a "pleasant surprise" to some. The Weatherford Enquirer newspaper stated "It was rather a surprise that Capt. Burk Burnett, the great cattleman, and farmer of the famous 6666 Ranch was going to get married and but a few of his friends know any thing about it, and just a little more surprising that Mrs. Mary Baradal was going to be his wife, and so few of our people in Weatherford know it."
The paper reported that Burnett arrived on the morning train from Fort Worth, accompanied by Reverend Lowber and attorney T. J. Powell. The men headed to the home of J. R. Couts, where Burk and Mary took their vows. Immediately after the ceremony, the couple departed on the train for St. Louis and honeymooned in New York City.
After their return to Fort Worth, the couple made their home at 1424 Summit Avenue, in the exclusive neighborhood of Quality Hill. The house was also home to Ollie Burnett, Burk's daughter-in-law, and his granddaughter Anne. In 1895, Mary and Burk welcomed a son, Samuel "Burk" Burnett, Jr. Records from Saint Matthew's Episcopal Cathedral in Dallas indicate that Ollie's daughter Anne Valliant and Samuel, Jr. both received the sacrament of baptism on March 12, 1906.
During the early years of their marriage, Burk didn't slow down his career. He was more occupied than ever with his ranching business and high-profile friends like Teddy Roosevelt and Quannah Parker. Mary stayed behind in Fort Worth and lived in the Summit home with her son and daughter-in-law Ollie. At this time she was busy with many philanthropic activities around the city, and with her son, whom she loved dearly.
There is no evidence to pinpoint when the Burnett marriage started to falter. Burk was always primarily focused on his business interests, often at the expense of his relationships. The couple often lived in different locations, had different interests, and had different personalities. But by 1911 one thing is sure, the Burnett marriage was in crisis.