Burleson is on Interstate Highway 35W, U.S. Highway 81, State Highway 174, and Farm roads 731 and 3391, fourteen miles south of Fort Worth in northern Johnson and southern Tarrant counties. Shannon and Village creeks run through the community. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad runs through the community, and the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe runs just to the west. Burleson began when the MKT planned a railroad from Fort Worth to Hillsboro in 1881 and established a depot on the townsite. Grenville M. Dodge, representing the railroad, purchased the land, originally part of the J. W. Henderson survey, from Rev. Henry C. Renfro. As part of the agreement, Renfro was allowed to name the depot and called it Burleson, in honor of Dr. Rufus C. Burleson, his teacher and later president of Baylor University.
In 1882 Burleson received a post office located in a saloon, with John L. Dickey as the first postmaster. Soon after it opened, several stores and churches were formed. Burleson was a mile south of an earlier community, Brushy Mound, which was bypassed by the railroad. The first school in the area had been founded at Brushy Mound in 1879. In 1885 a new building was constructed and called Alta Vista College. In 1893 it became Red Oak Academy and was run by the Presbyterian Church. After the school was discontinued the building was moved to Burleson in 1900. The Brushy Mound site is now in the Burleson city limits.
In its first fifty years Burleson was a stable community organized around agriculture and livestock raising. By 1890 it had a population of 200, grocers, druggists, a general store, and several cotton gin-gristmills. Ten years later the community had a newspaper, the Burleson Banner, and an artesian well and waterworks that supplied water to area homes and businesses. In 1899 Burleson shipped 2,000 bales of cotton, eighty cars of wheat and oats, and thirty cars of cottonseed.
The population in Burleson was 368 in 1904 but dropped by the 1920s to 241, before beginning a slow climb to 573 in 1940. The community was incorporated before 1930. In 1912 the North Texas Traction Company began service on its Interurban line between Cleburne and Fort Worth with a stop in Burleson. In 1913 Burleson received its first electricity, powered by wires laid for the Interurban, and in 1921 Lone Star Gas began to provide gas service to Burleson. The Interurban service to Burleson made the town more accessible to the outside world. In 1924 State Highway 21 was built from Fort Worth to Alvarado through Burleson. As Burleson grew land was annexed to provide room for new buildings. Before World War II the Cumming-Clark addition was built, and after the war the Mound, Tarrant, Crestmoor, and Montclair additions were annexed. The population began to grow more rapidly. From 1940 to 1950 it rose 28 percent, from 573 to 795, but in the next decade the population mushroomed from 795 in 1950 to 2,345 in 1960, as Burleson became a suburb of Fort Worth. The community began to rely less on agriculture and more on business and industry. It supported thirty businesses in the 1930s, and sixty-two in the 1960s. In 1950 Burleson had seven manufacturers, including three feed companies and a brass manufacturer.
By 1980 the population of 11,734 supported 196 businesses. Fourteen manufacturers constructed a variety of items, including glass, mobile homes, camper tops, and metal storage sheds. In 1990 three newspapers, the Burleson Star (established 1965), the Joshua Tribune (established 1970), and the Burleson Star Review (established 1969), were published in Burleson, in addition to technical, trade, and church journals. In 1990 the population of Burleson was 16,113. In 2000 the population grew to 20,976. The Burleson Library and a museum were located in the Victorian home of the Clark and Renfro families, built in 1893.