Burk Family History - From New York State to Durham County


An interesting version!...compare to Darlington Twp. History Notes>


Dear Nephew,

Yours of the 24th comes to hand and received with much pleasure. I received a letter from Harvey ?? Burk, since receiving yours dated Jan. 8th, stating aunt Betsy Bates was still well and several others that were quite youths in my time. We are as well as we could ever expect for our age. I am four score six years six months and two days old 4th day of March 1867.

Dear Nephew, you made a request of me to give you a statement of the present race of Burk's in America from which I sprung.

My Grandfather, Frances Burk was from Ireland. He crossed the Atlantic, came into the state of New Jersey, married a Jersey girl by whom he had five sons and two daughters. His son's names were John (the eldest) who was my father, second Mike or Mical, third Joseph, fourth James, fifth Luke. Daughters first Mary, second Katy or Caturah. My mother's name was Sarah Williams, a daughter of David Williams. She had a twin brother called Benjamin. They always lived in Orange county, State of New York. She had three brothers and one cousin that were taken and sent to the British when they lay in New York City and all four died of Smallpox.

My mother's parents were both American born, but English descent. My great grandfather, came from Wales.

Now I will come to my Father. 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.

I will try to give you a history of Father's 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.

He hired a young man, Jowel Bowers, to take mother and the children (there were five) and furniture and so from the head of Lake Seneca to the West side of Niagara River. I went with Father and several others to help drive the cattle.

There was the son of a Preacher Culvers, Eliphelt Conet, and a man called Low who lived with Mr. Trull. We got through without sickness or loss of stock to the Canada shore and found Mother and all safe there. We camped there about three weeks. Then Father got around the lake, I think in Mr. John Trull's boat to the old Toronto Garrison. There were a few soldiers kept there. Low, Eliphelt Conet, and I drove the cattle around there, got rowed to Toronto, and found the folks there. Father, got in the boat with John Trull and went down the lake to Benjamin Wilson's. Low and I drove the cattle. It was an entire wilderness, not a home from the time we left Toronto. We got to Wilson's but we could not get lost for we kept close to the lake shore. We had some difficulties at Big Bay - I expect you know where it is - it appeared a great way around, so we thought we could swim the cattle over. We had a colt that belonged to Conet and Low said he was a good swimmer, so we drove the cattle in. It was a good way before we came to deep water. We waited until all got over, then I rode on and all at once it went off very deep. My horse went under, head and all. He came up, but I saw he could not swim with me on his back, so I got myself free from him, and swam out and went around the Bay. The next day I got to Wilson's (I was 14 years old) and found mother, father, and the children.

Trull had gone down to what was called Baldwin's Creek, and settled there awhile. Father was a little backwards about locatiing a place for his residence. As there was a pretty good chance of getting grass to make hay, he stayed and made it to winter stock. He had a very fine yoke of oxen, and three or four cows, and October 2nd , 1794, he landed on the beach, close to the point right in the wilderness, for at that time there was not a house of any description from Toronto until we came to Wilson's, nor from Wilson's down to Hope, and no person except old Conet, his two sons Jerry and Tom.

Now, we were landed there right at the edge of water, and no help near. There had to be a shelter made for winter, so we cut down a large black ash about six rods from the lake, and put much smaller sticks on that so that a man could stand up under, then two crutches then feet from that , a pole on the crutches; we covered with split puncheons, and lived there that winter. The pond was six feet higher than the lake, so we opened the channel where it had formerly been, and it left barrels of fish on the ground. We caught twenty-nine foxes. Father went to Bay of Quinte the next March and brought up eleven barrels of flour that he got for them.

(Signed) Josiah Burk

To Mr. David F Burk

This letter was copied from a copy of the original by "Flora Maude Campbell Stone" March 9, 1924

In the presence of "Helen E. Deeks"

Copied from Mrs. Stones copy by Opal Burk Mells April 16, 1962 In Oshawa

Explanations:

Josiah is usually called Jesse.

James followed John here and was here by 1796 when he applied for land. He said he had been settled on his land for some time.

Big Bay is Whitby Harbour.

Barber's Creek is Bowmanville Creek now.

Benjamin Wilson's is on the lake shore just east of Simcoe Street, Oshawa; about 2 miles down from this house where I am writing - 743 Simco St. North.

Luke Burk came by way Bay of Quinte so his petition for land showed he stayed just a few years and then sold. I do not know anything further of him.

On Jesses land register his is called Jesse. He had five daughters - no sons - so he saw no future on the land with no men coming on. He returned to the States (Penn.) about 1816 - selling his land to his brother.


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