GEORGE W. BURKE. - George W. Burke, deceased, was a well known farmer and early settler of Sangamon county who lived in the vicinity of Springfield for many years and spent his last days in the capital city. He was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, February 1, 1839, a son of Michael and Mary A. Burke, who were natives of Ireland and came to America at an early day, settling in Harrisburg, where the father was engaged in business as a railroad contractor. He became well known in that vicinity all over the state and carried on business in that line throughout his remaining days, making his home in Harrisburg up to the time of his death. His wife resided there until 1893, when she came to the west to visit at the home of her son, George W., and there died.
George W. Burke acquired a good education and after attending the public schools of Harrisburg became a student in the college at Pittsburg and also at Elnova, Pennsylvania. Later he was a student in Georgetown college, at Washington, D.C., of which institution he was a graduate. When his education was completed he joined his father in business and began railroad contracting and building, continuing in that line until 1861, when he came to the west and established his home in Sangamon County. He purchased a small tract of twenty-one acres on the Peoria road near the state fair grounds and began making improvements. There he engaged in trucking and farming on a small scale. After his marriage he bought, in 1864, another farm comprising one hundred and two acres on the Peoria road, and near his first place of residence. This he cultivated and improved until it was one of the most desirable farms of the locality. There he carried on general agricultural pursuits until 1899, at which time he removed to Springfield in order to live a retired life there, but indolence and idleness were utterly foreign to his nature and he could not content himself without some business interest. He spent a great deal of his time at Union Hall in Springfield and was afterward engaged as a reporter for the local newspapers for a few months. His health, however, failed him and on the 22d of December, 1899, he passed away.
Thirty-five years before Mr. Burke had been married in Logan county, Illinois, to Miss Anna F. Turley, a native of that county, born June 8, 1839, and a daughter of George W. and Susan (Taylor) Turley. Her father was one of the pioneer residents of Logan county and was engaged in farming there until his death. His wife also passed away in that county. Three children were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Burke: Maude, who was born February 12, 1866, and makes her home with her mother; Francis E., who was born April 8, 1870, and resides at home, but is superintending his mother's farming interests and his own property in Springfield; and William M., who was born June 30, 1869, and died in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the age of two years and eight months.
Mr. Burke never took an interest in politics as an office seeker, but through the urgent solicitation of his friends he accepted the office of assistant supervisor, which he filled in a capable manner for some time. Political questions, however, were matters of deep concern to him because of his public spirited citizenship and he believed firmly in the principles of Democracy. He held membership in St. Joseph's Catholic church, of Springfield, to which his wife and children also belonged, and he was a member of the Catholic order of Foresters here. Among his salient characteristics was his charitable spirit and he gave generously and freely to those in need and to various benevolent objects. His life was characterized by marked industry leading to success, and at all times he commanded the confidence and trust of those with whom he was associated. His widow still owns the farms which he purchased, comprising one hundred and twenty-three
acres of land located near the state fairgrounds and in connection with her son she owns seven or eight residences in Springfield and also a number of building lots and other real estate, which is controlled by her son. They reside at No. 1316 North Sixth Street, this property having been purchased by the daughter that her parents might have it as their permanent home. Mrs. Lucy A. (Turley) Carlisle, an aunt of Mrs. Burke, came to live with her in August, 1899. The family is well known in Springfield and their circle of friends is extensive.