BURKE, JAMES WILLIAM GRAVESTONE PHOTO
South Kansas Tribune, Wednesday, May 27, 1903, Pg. 5:
On the morning of Thursday, May 20th, word was brought to us that J. W. Burke had been drowned in Sycamore creek at the ford on his farm, between 8 and 9 o’clock the night previous. On going there we learned that on Wednesday Mr. Burke and wife spent the day with their daughter Mrs. David Hawkins. It rained hard the most of the day and those who claim to know say that at least four inches of water fell, and there was a rise in the creeks. Mr. & Mrs. Burke started home as soon as the rain slackened, but on going to the creek found they could not cross, and drove down to near the Krone school house intending to cross on the bridge west of the school house, but found too much water there. Then they drove back to their own ford but still it was too deep, so they drove to R. M. Pasley’s and had supper, then hitched onto Pasley’s wagon, tied the wagon box down and drove back to their own ford. Mr. Pasley did not want “Uncle Will” as we called him to try it. But Mr. Burke insisted, said he had often crossed when the water was higher; and both of them were anxious to get home to their daughter Fannie, who was there with Mr. Johnson, their hired man, and the water had been doing some damage.
Mr. Burke drove in while Mr. Pasley and his hand Mr. Brown, stood on the bank and watched. The water scarcely touched the bed of the wagon, but it was very swift at the ford and when the team reached the west bank, the wagon had drifted down so it struck a little bank that the team could not pull up; then it swung around down stream and the horses swung out into the stream and re-crossed the creek to the east side, but hit the bank below the ford about fifty yards, where it was steep. Just there an old field roller had drifted in and lodged the team and wagon struck it, the wagon tipped and threw Mrs. Burke out between the roller and wagon. “Uncle Will” got out on the roller frame and called to Pasley to “get Becca out” and “he would look after the team.” By the time Pasley and Brown had got Mrs. Burke out she was nearly drowned and somewhat hurt by the wagon and roller, so they had to restore her and get her out of further danger. While taking care of Mrs. Burke the team swung off from the roller and loose from Mr. Burke. He jumped from the roller into the creek where it was about waist deep and a little down stream from the roller. The team lodged 400 yards below, on the old Watkin’s place, and Johnson and Ed Scott succeeded in getting out one of the horses—the other drowned. But while they were at this they supposed that “Uncle Will” was helping take care of his wife—so neither party missed him for some time---each supposing him to be with the other, and when it was discovered that he was not at either place a search began. No one knows what happened after he was last seen as stated above, standing in the water. The search was kept up by hundreds all the rest of the week, and until 3 p.m. Sunday when his body was found in two feet of water by Carl Perkins. There had been two raises in the creek in the mean time and it is supposed that the body had drifted some that day. He was found on the Watkin’s farm 500 yards below where he was last seen. The body was left in the creek till the Ulmer Furniture Co.’s undertaker arrived at 2 a.m. Monday, when it was taken out and prepared for burial. The funeral was held Monday at 10 a.m., at the Sycamore Valley M. E. church, conducted by Rev. A. A. Horner, who read the 90th Psalm, and First Corinthians 15, 50, 58, his text the last verse. The hymns were “Nearer My God to Thee” and “The Great Physician.”
The interment was at the Krone cemetery, where the Masons, from Independence had charge of the service.
J. W. Burke was born in Macon county, Illinois, on Nov. 4, 1837. In 1858 he was married to Miss Rebecca Lay who, with five children survive him. They are A. L. Burke of Rice county, Thomas M. Burke of Sycamore, James H. Burke of Whistler, Ok., Miss Fannie Burke and Mrs. David Hawkins of Sycamore. He came to Kansas in the fall of 1870 and bought of J. T. Stewart, as a “claim” the farm upon which he had since lived. During the war of the rebellion Mr. Burke enlisted in Co. E. 41st Illinois Infantry and served till discharged for disability. D. C. and D. H. Krone served in the same company. He was a Methodist for fifty years and will be missed by his church, for he made things go. He was a man of positive opinions and was prominent in all the affairs of this community—and was as well known as any man of the community and respected by all. His family have the heartfelt sympathy of all. His children were all present at the funeral. It was the largest funeral we have ever attended in the valley.
D. C. Krone
Contributed by Mrs. Maryann Johnson a Civil war researcher and a volunteer in the Kansas Room of the Independence Public Library, Independence, Kansas.