Immigrants Thomas and Catherine Burke

This some additional records Jack Truher received on August 16, 2003 from Marylou Burke, widow of Joe Burke, nephew of Jack’s mother. Helen Burke Truher ( descendent of Thomas and Catherine Burke ) through their son, James (1864-1924). Mrs. Marylou Burke is currently of Tucson, Arizona.

page 1, prepared date October 11, 1858. “To the Judge of the Tippacanoe Circuit Court”. This is application for citizenship by Thomas Burk, dated October 11, 1958 at which date Thomas was 27 years old. Thomas was born in Ireland, County Tippirary, emigrated from Liverpool in the year 1842. He arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on September 29, 1842. We know from other documents in this group that Thomas served for a few weeks in the Mexican American War of ~1848.

page 2, prepared date July 8,1892. “Mexican War Pensions, Act of January 29, 1887” This is an application, dated July 8, 1892, for Mexican War widow’s pension. Thomas Burk had died on April 2, 1883. We observe that the clerk spells Thomas’ wife’s name, “Catherine Bourke”, in this document and Thomas’ name, “Bourke”. Thomas and Catherine were married June 28, 1854. It appears that neither the government, nor Catherine, had any solid documentation that Thomas had actually served in the Mexican War. Catherine states that she “believes he (Thomas) served sometime over sixty days (apparently the qualifying term). She remember(s) he said he was in hospital with bloody flux (war wound assumed) for three weeks after the rest (of his military unit) were discharged.”

page 3. - continues page 2, prepared date July 8,1892. This page is prepared by a “clerk of the (Catherine’s local) Circuit Court, and certifies that Catherine is a “credible person and of good report for truth and veracity in the community”.

page 4, prepared July 28, 1892. This page, “Widow’s Service Pension” may have served to record authorization for pension fund participation, or it may be otherwise. Comment in middle of document is by government clerk, dated July 28, 1892. It stipulates that the government has “no official service (record) for Thomas, and no evidence that he had been “invalid” (ed)”, i.e. disabled. This may simply record a finding of fact, and would not necessarily have negated a widow’s participation in a pension fund. The page has an entry at bottom from Catherine’s attorney, apparently received on July 13, 1892, from the government on her application for pension.

I believe from earlier evidence that Catherine Burke did receive this modest pension, but I can not recall now the source of this impression.

-- Jack Truher August 17, 2003

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