The Burkes took their name from “De Burgh”, which was French for, “of the borough”. They were Norman warriors who helped William the Conqueror to conquer England, then helped Strongbow to conquer Ireland. They were granted lands in county Galway in the late 12th century. Over the years, their name changed to its current form and the Burkes were known for “being more Irish than the Irish themselves”. Today, Burke is one of the most common names in Ireland.
Burkes were among the warriors that participated in the Crusades. In fact, their coat of arms bears a red cross on a gold shield, which was customary of a veteran of the Crusades.
The earliest Burke recorded in the US was an Ann Burke who came to Virginia in 1647. The Burkes were known for being among the earliest settlers of Southwest Virginia. My Burke heritage comes specifically from Blackwater in Lee County, Virginia.
God’s Word is very important in the Burke family. My great uncle, great grandfather, and great, great grandfathers were all Baptist preachers.
My dear grandmother, Nettie Mae (Burke) Baker, one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever known.
My great uncle, Harold Burke, with his 2nd wife, Alice (Rhoton) Burke. He was quite a character. I remember him taking Karate lessons in his 60s and talking about “taking care of” 4 young men that assaulted him in the parking lot of the Dayton Mall in Ohio.
(back row, l-r) Harold Burke, Nora (Burke) Fisher, Dewey Burke, Nettie (Burke) Baker, (front row, l-r) James Baker, Shirley (Baker) Gay, Evelyn (Baker) Roberts
My great grandfather, Harrison Burke. He was a Primitive Baptist Elder and a “circuit preacher” who pastored 4 churches in Blackwater, VA. In fact, Burke’s Union Primitive Baptist Church on Route 603 was named for him. He did this on horseback and grandma Baker talked about how she and her mother would go out and knock the ice off his stirrups so that he could get down off his horse.
Great grandpa Harrison Burke (far right) with 2 other Primitive Baptist preachers. In addition to pastoring 4 churches in Blackwater, VA, Elder Burke helped to start Bellbrook Primitive Baptist Church in Bellbrook, Ohio.
My great, great grandparents, Robert & “Polly” (Mcpherson) Burke
My great, great grandfather, Robert Burke, in his later years. He was a Primitive Baptist Minister whom reportedly had a “booming voice”.