A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

James and Maria Burke – From Athlone, Ireland, to Oakland, California, 1884

Are you able to help solve this mystery?

James Burke and his sister Maria came from Athlone in Ireland and emigrated to Oakland in California sometime before the year 1884. This sad letter was sent from James to his father who was living back in Athlone. The letter seems to have been passed to other family members as there are later postmarks.

At the time of the writing of his letter James was working for the Christian Brothers at St Joseph’s College, Oakland, on the east side of San Francisco Bay. The letter refers to unemployment, financial hardship, illness and difficult family relationships. 

The Voter List for 22nd September 1892 shows that James Burke, a native of Ireland, aged forty-three years, was living at 5th and Jackson, Alameda, California. This would suggest that James was born in about 1849.

The passenger list for the Steamship Batavia, dated 13th March 1871, (Liverpool to the U.S.A.) lists an Irish Labourer, Batley Burke, aged twenty-one-years, could this be James Burke’s brother?

Nothing else is known about this family so further details would be very much appreciated. If you have any information please contact or leave a comment below.


Pages four and one


Pages two and three




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: