Joe Burke was baptised on May 10th 1884. On the 1901 Irish Census he is shown as living at home in Kilmacow with his parents, brothers Michael, Tom, Ned and Dan and sisters Mary Ann and Margaret. By 1904, Tom, Ned and Margaret would be in America and Mary Ann would have married leaving him to work the farm with his brothers Michael and Dan. His father dies in 1908 and in 1909 he heads for America.
Joe travelled on a ship called the "SS Caronia" (a Cunard liner) which sailed from Queenstown (now called Cobh) on September 15th, 1909 arriving a week later in New York on the 22nd. On the ship’s manifest he gives his age as 20 even though he was 25 but many of the Burkes knocked a few years of their age with many of them having incorrect birth years on their gravestones. For the emigrants it may have been to do with making themselves more employable or eligible for certain jobs. Joe gives his home town as Croom and his next of kin as "Mother - Mrs Mary Burke, Croom, Co. Limerick”. He lists his occupation as "farmer" and his onward destination as "Chicago". He has a ticket for onward travel to Chicago and is joining his brother Thomas Burke who lives at 3431 Butler St. Chicago. He is described as being in good health, 5 ft 10 inches in height, fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes.
According to his son, Jim , he had read that the streets of America were paved with gold! An uncle met him in New York when he landed and took him to a bar where he bought him two shots of whiskey before putting him on a train to Chicago. The Burkes met him off the train in Chicago and the story goes that he was taken to Gaelic Park where he took to the field for a hurling match. The hero of the day, he was carried from the pitch shoulder high!
In the 1910 US Census he is living with his brothers Ned and Tom and sister Margaret at 120 East 56th St. and is working as a railroad clerk. As is now customary for the Burkes he has knocked 5 years off his age. During WW1 he served in the southern states with the US Army. In 1920 he is lodging with a widow called Katherine McLoughlin and her family. He is now working as a shipper for the US government. Sometime after this he joins the Chicago Police Department.
On October 11th 1922, Joe married Lucy Butler. Lucy was born in Indiana to an American-born father and a German mother. By the 1930 census they are living at 8844, Morgan St. in a house that they own (worth $9000) and they have three sons, Joseph, James and Richard. Lucy’s brother and brother-in-law are lodging with them. Joe gives his age as 37, only knocking 9 years of his true age! Joe is now a sergeant in the Police Force and Lucy is working as a book-keeper in the bank.
By 1940 they are living at 10945, Edmondus Street. They also own this house with a value of $5,000. Lucy and Joe have two more sons, John and William. Joe only knocks off 5 years in this Census.
Lucy died of cancer on December 16th 1954. Joe had retired from the Police Force on November 1st 1947. He died on February 6th 1963. Joe is buried along with Lucy in Holy Sepulchre cemetery, the only one of the American Burkes not to be buried in Mount Olivet. His death notice in the Chicago Daily Tribune is poignant in that, as the last of the Burkes, it name checks all his dead siblings – “brother of the late Patrick, Mary Ann, John, Michael, William, James, Hanna, Thomas, Kitty, Margaret, Daniel and Edward”.
|Joe Burke's death notice - "Chicago Daily Tribune|