The Burke Family of Cherry Valley

The Burke family, originally from Ireland, settled in Cherry Valley, Illinois, with Luke Burke, born August 20, 1842. Luke served in the Union Army during the Civil War from 1861 to 1864. He married Catherine McGrath on November 25, 1846, and they lived at 202 Grove Street, now home to their grandson Emmett Burke. Luke, a village blacksmith, died in 1897, and Catherine in 1939. Their children included Mamie, Harry, George, and Emmett. Harry ran a dry goods store, while George lived on Genoa Road. The Burke family has significantly contributed to Cherry Valley’s community and history, spanning multiple generations.

Luke Burke
Luke Burke

The Burke family originally came to America from Ireland. Luke Burke, born August 20, 1842, was mustered in Company L., Seventh Cavalry in the Union Army during the Civil War from his residence in Cherry Valley. He served from September 18, 1861, until September 28, 1864.

Luke Burke married Catherine McGrath, born November 25, 1846, at St. James Church in Belvidere. Their home located at 202 Grove Street is now occupied by their grandson, Emmett Burke. Luke Burke was the village blacksmith for many years. His shop was located on the south side of State Street where the Cherry Valley Tool & Machine Company now stands. Luke died April 19, 1897, and Catherine died in October, 1939.

Four children were born of this marriage. Mamie Burke Moan was born March 16, 1871, and died on January 18, 1903. Harry Burke was born February 16, 1873. He married Katie Schmidt on June, 21, 1905 at St. Johns Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They lived in Cherry Valley at 218 Walnut Street. Harry and Katie Burke ran a dry goods store for many years on the south side of State Street across from where the post office now is. They had one son, Dr. Luke Burke of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and two grandsons, Dr. William Burke of St. Louis and Robert Burke of Milwaukee. Upon the death of Harry Burke on April 6, 1948, Katie sold their home and dry goods store and moved to Milwaukee. She resided with her son until her death on July 6, 1951.

Luke Burke's Blacksmith Shop
Luke Burke’s Blacksmith Shop

George Burke, born February 4, 1876, married Mary O’Rourke on May 20, 1903 at Mt. Carmel Church in Chicago. Mary was born March 19, 1882. Their home was located at 421 Genoa Road and is now occupied by their granddaughter Sandra Gustafson. George Burke died on July 24, 1947. Mary (always known as May) continued to live in their home on Genoa Road until her death on March 30, 1964.

George and May Burke had two children, Emmett Burke, who now resides at 202 Grove Street, and Nellie Burke Gray who lives at 146 Lawrence Street. Emmett has two sons, Michael Burke of Cherry Valley and George Thomas Burke of Rockford. He also has four grandchildren, Brad and Becky Burke and Terry and Kathleen Burke. Nellie Burke Gray has three children, James Gray, Patricia Gray Johnson and Sandra Gray Gustafson. She also has five grandchildren, Joe and Jeff Bonavia, Michael and Sandra Johnson, and David Gustafson.

The fourth child born of Luke and Catherine Burke’s marriage was Emmett Burke, born April 2, 1891. He died two years later on August 17, 1893.

Since the Civil War the Burke family has played an important part in the town of Cherry Valley. Four generations of the Burke family have attended Cherry Valley School. Luke Burke and later his son Harry Burke were a part of Cherry Valley’s business community. The Burke family was among the founding Catholics of St. Rita’s Church. And even now, Emmett Burke is a Trustee for the Village. Cherry Valley’s history would not be complete without an account of this, one of it’s oldest families.

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