John & Susan Howell
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First Name:

Last Name:

John Burk[1]

Male Abt 1754 - 1827  (~ 73 years)

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  • Name John Burk  [2
    Born Abt 1754  Orange County, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4
    Gender Male 
    Lived in Orange County, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Moved Genesee County, NY Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Moved Newton (Elmira), NY  [5
    Moved 1783  Northumberland Co., PA Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Moved Spring 1794  Oshawa, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    FamilySearch ID LW7R-JV2 
    FamilySearch URL 
    Died 1827  Brooke, West Virginia Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Person ID I550  Main
    Last Modified 28 Jan 2020 

    Father Frances Burk,   b. 1725, Limerick, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1768, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 43 years) 
    Mother Eunice Merck,   b. Abt 1720,   d. 1769  (Age ~ 49 years) 
    Family ID F749  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Sara Williams,   b. Abt 1763, Orange County, New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married Abt 1778 
    • "He married my mother in her 16th year" [5]
    +1. David Burk,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. Josia (Jesse) Burk,   b. 2 Sep 1780, New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 4 Mar 1867  (Age 86 years)
    +3. John Burk,   b. 25 Jan 1785, Orange County, New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1832  (Age 46 years)
     4. Thomas Burk,   d. Yes, date unknown
     5. Samuel Burk,   d. Yes, date unknown
     6. Timothy Burk,   d. Yes, date unknown
     7. Mary Burk,   d. Yes, date unknown
     8. Elizabeth Burk,   d. Yes, date unknown
     9. Sara Burk,   d. Yes, date unknown
     10. Joana Burk,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 30 Sep 2009 
    Family ID F748  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Abt 1754 - Orange County, New York Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsLived in - - Orange County, New York Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMoved - - Genesee County, NY Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMoved - 1783 - Northumberland Co., PA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMoved - Spring 1794 - Oshawa, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 1827 - Brooke, West Virginia Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 

    • Excerpt from a letter to Josia (Jesse) Burk to his nephew David F. Burk (see references for full text of letter transcribed by Flora M. Campbell):

      "he was the eldest of 5 sons.  He married my mother in her sixteenth year, and shoe bore hime twelve children, ten of whom were raised to men and women.."

      "I will try to give you a history of Father's [John Burk] general exodus from the time he left Orange Co. New York, till he landed in Canada on the Beach, about a mile above Barber's Creek.

      Father's first move was from Orange Co. New York to Northumberland Co. on the west branch of the Susquehanna. He moved in April 1783. My father moved to Genesse Co. New York. For the first move he made splits out of black ash, and a basket at each end, so that the baskets hung on each side of the horse, and your uncle John rode in one basket and your father in the other, and Mother on the same horse with Polly behind her. The other horse was loaded with what furniture he could carry.

      His next move was to a place called Newtown on the Chemung branch of the North Branch of the Susquehanna in New York State. It is now called Elmira.

      My father was a very ingenious man, cold turn his hand to almost anything, pretty well fitted for a new country but there was not much to be made here, more than just a living, so his next move was for Canada, in the spring of 1794.

      Before he left, that winter, he killed twenty-two bears, and I heard him say the money he got for the skins did him more good than any he ever got...."

      From "Father of the Burk's in America" by Harry Douglas Stewart:

      The day of opportunity came for the Burks when John Graves Simcoe, Governor of Upper Canada, offered to Americans who remained loyal to the Crown free grants of land in the newly surveyed township of Darlington. The first of the Burk family to respond to the offer was the oldest son John, followed one year later by our great-great grandfather James. I now quote from the “History of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Site and its Original Settlers”.

      "The first actual settlement of the Darlington site took place in 1794. This settlement was induced by a land bounty by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, proclaiming free land to those who wanted to settle in the area. Among the first families to settle in this area was that of John Burk, who with his wife and three sons, David, John and Samuel, moved to lot 13 concession I and lot 13 broken front. John*s younger brother James followed and moved into lot 16 concession I and broken front. Both brothers received their deeds for their property in 1798. This first settlement—by the Rurk brothers had a great deal to do with the succeeding expansion and growth of business in the area."

      All of the notes that follow were found on Graham Stewar's web page -- I do not know who wrote them, so here is an opportunity to thank the many researchers who gererously give their time and efforts so we may all benefit! :

      John and Sarah lived in Orange County, New York to Northumberland County, on the West Branch of the Susquehenna unti 1783. He moverd in April 1783 to Genesee County, New York. For the first move he made splits out of black ash and a basket at eachend, so that the baskets hung on each side of the horse, and son John rode in one basket and Josiah in the other, and Sarah(Williams)Burk on the same horse with Polly behind her. The other horse was loaded with what furniture it could carry.

      According to Josiah's letter they moved in 1783 to Genesee county, New York near Elmira,New York taking with them the children already born by 1783. The next move was to a place called Newton on Chemung branch of the North Branch of the Susquehenna in New York State. Now called Elmira.

      They came to Canada in Spring of 1794 settling on lot 13 con. 1 broken bront of Darlington Township, Durham County, Ontario, Canada. Refer to Josiah's letter and the map following for details.

      In 1786, John received a land grant of 600 acres in Bowmanville,Ontario,Canada.

      John Burk's Mill-Darlington Township, Durham County, Ontario

      The first grist mill on Barber's Creek was built by John Burk in 1805 on the spot where VanStone's Mill is now. John built a sawmill also. The stream was an excellent source of water power. So the records say that the first store in Bowmanville was a Burk Store, and it may have been that provisions were shared.

      The first Inn was doubtless John's. this old license 1807 - from the Ontario Archives proves the establishment. Keeping an Inn was a responsible undertaking in the early days.

      The Trail of the Black Walnut

      Dr G Elmore Reaman, Professor and Dean of Men, Waterloo College, University of Western Ontario

      "Mention should be made of settlers whose background was definitely Puritan. Let us take two famlies to illustrate - the Conants and the Aylesworths. Roger Conant may have been a Quaker, for he refused to join the patriot army, although two of his brothers did. Disposing of his land, he set out from the vicinity of Boston in 1777, with $5000 in gold, in a covered wagon drawn by two horses and followed by an ox team drawn by a cart laden with household goods and farm implements.

      "Leaving the family at Geneva, Roger Conant came on to Canada arriving at the locality afterwards called Darlington, County Durham, Ontario, in october, 1778. The first Crown grant of land to Roger Conant was made December 31st, 1778. It consisted of Lots 28,29,30, and 31, 1st Consession, darlington County Durham - in all about 1200 acres. After building a house on his land and probably clearing some portion of it, he returned to Geneva."* he brought his family over in 1794. John Burk and John W Trull with their families accompanied him."**

      * Conant, Thomas: Upper Canada Sketches, p. 57. Manchester, William Briggs, 1898

      **Reaman, Dr Elmore: The Trail of the Black Walnut, pp 170-171, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1957

      From a Burke Family History:

      (I received this doccument from my grandmother, Maxine Rivette Kruse, daughter of Daisy Burke Rivette)
      John and his brother James Burk recieved their land grant from the British crown in 1798. James came to Canada in 1796. Their brother Luke recieved his land in 1803. John sold his land and returned to the United States in 1816. Luke sold his land in 1808. Pioneer":

      His first move was from Orange Co. to Northumberland Co, on the west branch of the Susquehanna river (April 1783). Then on to Newton (now called Elmira) on the North branch of the Susquehanna in NY state. John had been a schoolmaster but was capable in many ways. His next move was to Ontario attracted by Gov. Simcoe's proclamation offering free land to settlers. Land was expensive in settled US areas and to go further west into indian lands was forbidden.

      The winter before he left, he killed 22 bear and sold their skins. In 1794, John arrived with his family at Newark, Upper Canada. There he was told to proceed to Darlington township that had been surveyed

      He landed at Barber's (Bowmanville) Creek on the north shore of lake Ontario in october 1794. They put up a shelter and trapped during that winter. Next march, John went to the Bay of Quinte and got 11 barrels of flour for the skins.

      We have copy of his petition for land dated 1796,. He obtained Lot 13, Con 1 and Lot 13 Broken Front, a total of 400 acres just where West Bowmanville is to-day. Later he was joined by his brother James.

      According to, He then built Darlington's first grist and saw mill where Vanstone's Mill now stands. He also opened the first general store and then an inn (In 1824, Charles Bowman purchased the store). He also acquired over 1000 acres of land in addition to his initial grant in 1798. Today, much of the Burk land forms the Darlington Provincial Park as well as the Darlington generating site.

      Ironically, Darlington's first citizen did not live out the rest of his days in Bowmanville. In 1820, he sold his store and returned to the USA in West Virginia. Before he died, John returned to Bowmanville on horseback twice to visit his family.

      Notable family members include Durham MP William Harvey Burk and Bowmanville lawyer John Burk-Simpson.

      Ref gives pictures of the dedication of the Burk Pioneer cemetery on the site of the Darlington generating station and mentions Paul Burk, who still resides in Oshawa.
      Heads of Families- Clarke & Darlington Townships 1811-1812

      Roger Bates, Joshua Z. Cozens, Richard Lovekin, John Hartwill, Ebenezer Hartwill, Henry Kale, Francis Lightheart, James H. Wilson, Cornelius Degroot, Augustus Barber, Norris Karr, John Burk Sr., Seth Hamlin, James Burk, Josia Burk, John Burk Jr., John Karr, David F. Burk, Alexander Fletcher, William Borland, Jeremia Conant, Eliphelet conant, John Pickel, Waterman A. Spencer, Samuel Marvin, John Vorse, William Smith, David Stevens, Joseph Berden, Thomas Conant, Peter LaPint, John Peter Young, Priskile Godra

      1812 Addends
      Adna Bates, James Bates, John Wilson, Nathan Bratt, Franics Roberts, Mark Burtch, Peter Degroot, John Dingman.

      Source: Kindred Spirits Newsletter, Whitby-Oshawa Branch of the OGS.

      He was the eldest of five sons. He married my mother in her sixteenth year, and she bore him twelve children, ten of whom were raised to men and women, six sons and four daughters, whose names are as follows: Thy own name is Josiah Burk, John, David, Thomas, Samuel, and Timothy. The daughters Mary, Elizabeth, Sara, and Joana.

      Above taken from:


      From the Stowe notes:

      In another spot they list John as being born in 1754
      recieved their land grant from the British crown in 1798.

      I have about ten generations of information on the Burks beginning in 1791 in Limerick, Ireland. Once they came to the USA, John Burk was arrested for treason in the Revolutionary War and later given land in Canada as a British Loyalist.

      From the Ontario Genealogy site - Durham history
      In the early history of Darlington, we find that Mr. John Burk, John W. Trull, and Roger Conat, were the pioneers, and first settlers of this Township. They emigrated together, with their families, from the United States to Canada, in the year 1794, and on the 2nd day of October, they landed from their boats on the beach of Lake Ontario, one mile west of Barber's Creek, now Port Darlington.


      Part 2.

      By Mr. Jas. B. Fairbairn, Post Master

      Somewhere about 1840 the place had grown to quite an extent, the settlement of Darlington had proceeded at a rapid rate, the town keeping pace with it. The principal business places at that time were on the western hill, there were three or four stores, a large tavern and cooper shop. The Methodist church was then also on the hill. To go back a little, Mr. Coleman states and I think, correctly, that the first store was opened by Lewis Lewis, who remained in business for four years. He then sold to Charles Bowman. This he says was in 1824. From the time the first hut was erected till then, the increase was very slow, as a census taken by Mr. Simpson, probably in 1825, shows 118 persons all told, there being only one house on the north side of the road.

      As for the Indians, I do not think they were very numerous along the shore of Lake Ontario, between Toronto and the Bay of Quinte. There is no evidence to show that such was the case. In the shape of relics such as arrowheads, etc. as comparatively very few have been found. I suppose this is accounted for as their favorite hunting grounds lay farther north among the smaller lakes and rivers. I have been told that an Indian burying ground was found on Liberty St., at least some remains were discovered, indicating that the sand knoll has been used for burial purposes, at some remote period. This was not far from Mr. John Medland's present residence. I do not know that any other has every been discovered in Darlington. I have never heard from any source of them known to the early settlers nearer than Scugog lake. A few scattered bands of the Rice Lake Indians perhaps did some hunting in the summer time up and down our creeks but they never interfered with the white people appearing quite harmless and kindly disposed. About 1838 I remember quite a number were camped in wigwams on the brow of the hill near Mr. Mark D. Williams' residence. They came from the west, the Humber region and although the older inhabitants used to tell romantic tales about them, such existed only in the vivid imaginations of the rehearsers.

      I now refer to the Burkes one of the first families who came into the wilderness, hewed out a home for themselves on the shore of Ontario, and were closely identified with and had a good deal to do in the succeeding expansion and growth of the business both of town and townships. One of the sons of John Burke the pioneer, remained on the homestead, owning the 400 acres of land, they having built a fine large frame house there at a very early period. The Burke family were noted through all this section for their kindness and hospitality. From the very earliest period after they were surrounded with the ordinary comforts of a farm house, the result of their own skill and toll, the door was ever open and help bestowed upon every poor struggling settler who came to them for assistance and though through lapse of time and changing conditions it is seldom thought of, still there are some even yet of the descendants of those who were helped, who speak o them with gratitude.

      Mr. David Burke was a highly religious man and did much active work in the church with which he was connected. He had appointments in different parts of the country and before there were any settled clergymen he did a good deal to try and elevate the moral condition of the people. He could have had but few early advantages in the way of education, but notwithstanding this drawback, he was quite a noted figure among his compeers.

      A true story and a good one is told of an occurrence in connection with the rebellion of 1837. After Ben Lett left the country and a reward of £500 stirling was offered for his capture, dead or alive, the whole community was on the qui vive and the extreme party were so anxious for his arrest that any tidings of his whereabouts were eagerly sought after. It was while this public tension was at its height that the following took place. Mr. Simpson then in management of the Bowman business, had gotten a number of Roman Catholic Irishmen from Ops to work on the mill dam which had been carried away by the spring freshets. Mr. Burke being short of hands in the hay harvest, got one of the men to go to the farm to assist. He was put to work in a field by himself. In the meantime a brilliant idea struck young David who was at home and he determined to have a little fun at the expense of the raw Irishman, dressed appropriately for the occasion and armed with an old blunderbuss, he suddenly dropped down on the man from Ops who was evidently taken aback by the apparition of an apparently armed desperado.

      Mr. Dave told him that he was Ben Lett and that the heard they were very anxious to make him a prisoner and invited him to undertake the job, finally making him promise on his sacred honor that he would never reveal the fact, but when he got uptown among his friends he told as a great secret what he had encountered. It became whispered around from one to another until it reached the ears of the authorities. They fully believed that the notorious rebel was being harbored by Burke's. Dr. Low who at that time lived in Whitby and was in command of a troop of Militia was instructed to take steps for his capture.

      So one night while Mr. Burke and family were enjoying their usual repose, totally unconscious of any impending danger, were suddenly aroused some time in the early morning by violent knocking and urgent demands for admittance. After hurriedly dressing and reaching the door he was surprised to find the premises completely surrounded by a military guard and the officer in charge told him that hey were creditably informed that Lett was about the place. To this Mr. Burke at once gave denial, he knew nothing about him or his whereabouts. They made a most rigorous search, going through barns, stables and cellars and at last gave up the chase. It had rained during the night and the troopers made a pretty sorry show. Mr. Burke gave them a hearty breakfast and bid them good-bye. The true inwardness of the performance did not come out till some years afterwards.

      Softansilk - gale: Burk John Milford 88 Discharged from or deserted from service before 1/1/1780. [6, 7, 8]


  • Sources 
    1. [SAuth] John Spencer Howell, Jr., John Spencer Howell, Jr., (

    2. [S625] Josia Burk 1867 letter to David F. Burk, Josia Burk, (4 Mar 1867), "My grandfather, Frances Burk...his son's names were John (the eldest) who was my father".

    3. [S625] Josia Burk 1867 letter to David F. Burk, Josia Burk, (4 Mar 1867), "...history from the time he left Orange Co., NY".

    4. [S863] Erin Worsham, Erin Worsham, (,

    5. [S625] Josia Burk 1867 letter to David F. Burk, Josia Burk, (4 Mar 1867).

    6. [S969] Graham Stewart, (,

    7. [S966] Harry Douglas Stewart, Harry Douglas Stewart, (

    8. [S970] The Trail of the Black Walnut, George Elmore Reaman, (Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1957 Hardcover 288pp. ISBN 0806313943), p. 170-171.