Patrick Burke, of whose life the following is a brief outline, is a prominent citizen of Byron, where he is living in retirement. He was born in Callen, County Kilkenny, Ireland, May 8, 1818.James Burke, his father was a native of the same portion of the Green Isle, and there married Miss Helen Butler. He was a clothier by profession, and came with his son, Patrick to America in the year 1828. The father and son set sail from Waterford Harbor, Ireland, and landed at Quebec, after an ocean voyage of six weeks and three days. They went from the Dominion of Canada to the City of New York, and sailed thence to Savannah, Ga.. They passed the first winter in that city, and in the spring went to Philadelphia. From there they went to Luzerne County, Pa., and there the father died, after an illness of six weeks. The son was a lad of 10 years, and was thus left alone in a land of strangers, with all his family that were left, still at home in Ireland. The death of their husband and father changed their plans, and the remainder of the household never came to this country. There was but the mother and a daughter, and the former died in the land of her birth about 1848. The sister set out to come to America, but died on the passage. She was buried in the sea, the vessel not being sufficiently near land to have the body brought ashore. A farmer in the county where the father died, opened his house and heart for the bereaved boy, and he grew to manhood in the town of Kingston. He had obtained some education in his native country and also attended school in Luzerne County.
When our subject came to Illinois in 1845, he bought 20 acres of timber land in township 25, Range 11, which is now included in the Township of Byron. The tract is located on section 10. Later Mr. Burke entered land on section 17, and was the resident owner for some time. He went to the State of Wisconsin in June, 1846, and was married in Beloit, to Nancy Whitney. Their union in marriage took place June 25 of that year. Mrs. Burke was born in the county in Pennsylvania where her husband was brought up, and where their acquaintance began.
Immediately after his marriage Mr. Burke returned to his property in Ogle County. The first year, not being able to raise a paying crop on his land, he rented a farm of Simon Spaulding, on which he worked, and at the same time attended in some degree to the improvements on his own property. He built a small frame house on his land in section 17, of which he took possession when he was prepared to go to his own land. He went abut the work of improving the whole acreage, and was obliged to go to Chicago to find market for his crops. The distance was about 100 miles and the round trip consumed from six to twelve days. Wheat there brought only 50 or 60 cents per bushel, and dressed pork sold for $2.50 or $3.00 per hundred. Mr. Burke was always successful as a farmer, and increased his estate by additional purchases until be became the owner of 460 acres, which he still holds. In 1880 he rented his farm and removed to the village of Byron, where he has since lived in retirement. He is the owner of the pleasant residence which he occupies.
The children of Mr. Burke were four in number, and were given exceptionally good advantages for securing an education and perfecting themselves for the duties of life. Edmund Wesley is a graduate from the college at Evanston, Ill., and from the Law Department of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor. He is engaged in a successful law practice in the City of Chicago. James G. also graduated from the same institutions, and is a lawyer at Aberdeen, D. T. Elizabeth E., the only daughter was born April 15, 1852 and died May 14, 1883. She was a beautiful and brilliant young lady, the idol of her home and friends. She was a graduate from the school at Rockford and after finishing her education became a teacher in the public schools of her native county. Charles H. Burke, the youngest son, was born August 5, 1855, and died in March, 1881. He was a graduate from Evanston College, and for four years held the Chair of Greek in Simpson College at Indianola, Iowa. He studied law, and not long before his death was admitted to the Bar and opened practice at Chicago.
Mr. And Mrs. Burke are active and consistent members of the Methodist Church.
Considering the disadvantages which Mr. Burke was compelled to overcome, and the obstacles, which to most young men are insurmountable, we find extraordinary results accomplished by him. An orphan boy in a foreign country, without anything to commend him but his own worth and brightness, he grew up, imbibing the spirit of his adopted country and went forth to fight life's battle, and right royally has he succeeded. He is today one of the highly respected and well-known men of a great and popular county, and as such we take pleasure in giving his portrait in connection with this sketch.
Return to Ogle Co. Genealogy Site