|Edward George Burke|
Looking around Ebay today, I came across this photo while searching one of my ancestor's localities. The picture is labeled a "memorium" of Edward George Burke of the US Navy-- I just had to know more about this handsome young Irishman. His story is a tragic one that occurred in the summer of 1911 at Owasco near Auburn, New York; the place my Irish immigrants settled after leaving Ireland during the famine.
A search at the Old Fulton newspaper site produced this sad story featured in the Oswego Daily Times dated July 12, 1911:
Owasco Lake last evening, added another canoeing tragedy to the list due to this frail craft when Edward George Burke, of Philadelphia, a graduate of the United States Naval Hospital service, was drowned with his cousin, Miss Adelaide McCarthy, a pretty high school girl and niece of Mayor O'Neill of Auburn.
Burke reached here yesterday, and Miss McCarthy was showing him the lake as they paddled south. Suddenly a terrific windstorm burst and their canoe capsized.
A motorboat coming to the rescue was swamped by the heavy seas. Burke shouted, "Save the girl, don't try to take me in." The engine of the motorboat stalled however as the wind blew the helpless craft away. Burke, still trying hard to tread water while holding his cousin, disappeared.
The bodies of the unfortunate couple were not recovered. Burke's parents are both dead, but his brother resides in Philadelphia.
Ned and his cousin Adelaide were eventually found, and buried in the same plot at St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery in Auburn a few days later. A monument consisting of a bronze tablet affixed to a boulder stands in Emerson Park overlooking the lake, it reads:
EDWARD GEORGE BURKE, LATE US NAVY
DROWNED IN OWASCO LAKE
ELEVENTH DAY JULY NINETEEN HUNDRED
STRIVING TO SAVE THE LIFE OF
MARY ADELAIDE McCARTHY
I KNEW YOU NOT; I KNOW YOUR NAME, NED BURKE
'TIS THE MISTY ISLE WITH TH' EMERALD CREST
THAT SUCKLES YOUR RACE AT HER TEEMING BREAST;
THAT SPURNS THE CRAVEN, THAT ADORES THE MILD,
THE GENTLE, THE TENDER, THE WOMAN AND CHILD.
WHITE WAS THE SOUL OF YOU NED BURKE
THE WINDS WERE HIGH AND THE WATERS WERE BLACK;
TWAS DO OR DIE WITH THE MAID AT YOUR BACK;
WITH NEVER A QUIVER OR HALT AT THE TEST
YOU GAVE YOUR ALL, YOU GAVE YOUR BEST
THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED BY PUBLIC
SUBSCRIPTION TO COMMEMORATE A BRAVE DEED