Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 737
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
The Laurence Burke stock farm is one of the attractive features of the landscape in Rockville township, Rice county, and the owner occupies an enviable position in business circles by reason of his honorable methods and unflagging industry and his close application to the duties which devolve upon him. More than a quarter of a century has passed since he came to Kansas, and throughout this period he has made Rice county his home.
A native of the Emerald Isle, Mr Burke was born in County Tipperary, in January, 1849. His father, Henry Burke, was an honorable and representative citizen of that community and married Anna Ryan. Both were natives of Ireland and have now passed away, the father having departed this life at the age of fifty-eight years, while the mother was called to her final rest at the age of sixty-three. They had six children: Julia, of New York; Mrs Ellen Ritmar, of Louisville, Kentucky; Mrs Mary DeLaney, of Kansas City, Missouri; Lawrence, of this review; Anna and Bridget, who are now deceased.
In the green isle of Erin Laurence Burke spent the first nineteen years of his life, during which period he attended school and assisted in farm work. He then crossed the Atlantic to the new world, making his way to Louisville, Kentucky, where he had a sister living. He there learned the trade of marble cutting and became an expert in that line, but he found that the pursuit did not agree with his health and was thus forced to turn his attention to other business interests. Making his way westward to Kansas, he secured a tree claim and built a sod house, in which he kept bachelorís hall for some time. The period of his residence in the Sunflower state has been an era of prosperity, and today he is one of the most successful farmers of central Kansas. The Laurence Burke stock farm, of which he is the proprietor, comprises eleven hundred acres of valuable land and is equipped with splendid buildings and everything necessary for the successful conduct of his business.
In 1877 Mr Burke returned to Louisville, Kentucky, to secure a helpmate for the journey of life, and was there married to Miss Kate Fahey, a lady of intelligence and good family, who was born in Sandusky, Ohio. Her parents were Michael and Ellen (Egan) Fahey, the former a native of County Galway, Ireland, the latter of Dublin. They were the parents of nine children, one son and eight daughters, namely: Mary, Michael, Kate, Elizabeth, Ellen, Maggie and three who died in infancy. For many years the father has been in the employ of a gas company in Louisville, Kentucky, and is a most reliable business man, honored and respected by all who know him. Mrs Burke pursued her education in the schools of Louisville, and by her marriage she has become the mother of six children, namely: William H, twenty-two years of age; Ed M, who is now nineteen years of age; Laurence, aged seventeen; George, Mary and Thomas, aged respectively fourteen, eleven and nine years. There is a fine grove and a large orchard upon the home place, and ample provision has been made for the shelter of stock by the erection upon a rock foundation of a large barn, forty by sixty-four feet, with twenty-foot posts, and also he is building an addition to his house with all modern improvements, which will be one of the largest and most commodious farm residences in the county. Mr Burke prosecutes his business affairs with vigor and energy, and his labors have returned to him a handsome competence. In his political views he was a stalwart Republican for many years and earnestly labored for the growth and success of his party. In 1890 he was the nominee on that ticket for the position of county commissioner and was elected by a large majority, serving for three years with credit to himself and satisfaction to his constituents. He was then renominated, but was defeated by the combination of the Populist and Fusion forces. He later became a Free Silver Republican and in 1896 and 1900 supported Bryan. Mr Burke is recognized as an active force in the party, being a good speaker, a logical reasoner and a forceful advocate of the principles in which he believes. It would be difficult to find many residents of this portion of Kansas who are more popular or more highly esteemed than Laurence Burke. He possesses the versatility and the enterprise so characteristic of the Irish race, and at the same time he is a loyal son of his adopted country, local advancement and public progress both being causes dear to his heart.