John Henry and Thomas Burk

John Henry Burk, also known as “Burke”, was born April 1, 1843, in Brockport, Monroe County, New York, the son of John (1812-1883) and Bridget (1807-1874).

John and Bridget left Ireland and immigrated first to England and the on to the United States. By 1842 they were living in Massachusetts and eventually settled in western Michigan. By 1860 John H. was attending school and living with his family, including an older brother Thomas who would also join the Third Michigan, in Rutland, Barry County.

John (younger) stood 5’9” with hazel eyes, brown hair and light complexion and was an 18-year-old farm laborer probably living with his family in Barry County when he enlisted in Company E on February 8, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day, crediting Stronach, Manistee County. (His older brother Thomas Burk who would enlist in Company E on February 24.) John joined the Regiment on March 23, and was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, where he was reported absent sick through November.

In fact he suffered from acute diarrhea during most of September and was apparently stricken with typhoid fever in October. He was furloughed on October 25, 1864 and returned to the regiment (at least one paper) on December 2, 1864. He was reportedly transferred on May 12, 1865, but it is not known to what entity. In any case he was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana, and eventually returned to western Michigan.

After the war John eventually returned to his family’s home in Barry County, and by 1870 he was working as a farm laborer (along with his older brother Thomas) and living with his parents in Hastings.

In 1878 he married Michigan native Jennie Gurnish (1858-1900) in Hastings, and they had at least one child: John Henry (1878-1963)

In 1880 John was working as a laborer and living with his wife and son and they were all living with Jennie’s father Amer E. Gurnish on Clinton Street in Hastings; John’s family lived a few doors away. He was still living in Hastings, Barry County in 1888, 1890, 1898 and in 1900.

He may have been a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association (his death was mentioned in the association records).

In 1890 John was living in Michigan when he applied for and received a pension (no. 536778).
John died on November 17, 1906, presumably in Hastings, and was buried on November 18 in Riverside cemetery, Hastings: block B-west “free ground”, lot no. 4, grave southeast 1/4-2. (His parents, wife and son are all buried in Riverside cemetery as well.)

Thomas Burk, also known as “Burke”, was born 1840 in Lancashire, England, the son of John (1812-1883) and Bridget (1807-1874).

John and Bridget left Ireland and immigrated first to England and then on to the United States. By 1842 they were living in Massachusetts and eventually settled in western Michigan. By 1860 Thomas was working as a laborer and living with his family, including a younger brother John who would also join the Third Michigan, in Rutland, Barry County.

Thomas stood 5’7” with gray eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was a 24-year-old farmer living in Hastings or Maple Grove, Barry County when he enlisted in Company E on February 24, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day. (His brother John H. had enlisted in Company E on February 8, 1864.)

Thomas reportedly joined the Regiment on April 4 at Brandy Station, Virginia, but spent little if any time on duty with the Third and was absent sick in the hospital from May through June. In fact according to one postwar report he entered Harewood hospital in Washington, DC, on April 30, 1864 suffering from pleurisy and was subsequently admitted to Knight’s hospital in Connecticut from Harewood on May 11. He was still absent sick when he was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and remained absent sick through June of 1865. He was subsequently admitted to McDougall hospital in New York City on January 5, 1865, and then transferred to Harper Hospital in Detroit on April 28, 1865, suffering from “valvular disease of the heart”. He was mustered out from the hospital on May 27, 1865, at Detroit.

Thomas eventually returned to his family’s home in Barry County and was living in Hastings in 1868. By 1870 he was working as a farm laborer (along with his younger brother John) and living with his parents in Hastings.

Thomas married a widow, 54-year-old New York native Mrs. Elsie R. Maynard (b. 1823), on January 16, 1878, in Hastings.

By 1880 Thomas was working as a a laborer and living with his wife on Jefferson Street in Hastings.

In 1868 Thomas applied for and received a pension (no. 105186), drawing $8 per month by 1883.

Thomas died of lung disease and dropsy at his home in Hastings on November 7, 1883, and was buried in Riverside cemetery, Hastings: : block B-west “free ground”, lot no. 4 , grave northwest 1/4-1. (Both his parents as well as his brother John are also buried in the same lot.)

His widow Elsey was still living in Michigan in December of 1883 when she applied for and received a pension (no. 206641).