"I departed the train at the end of the track in Salina, Kansas, and with my knap sack and a suitcase started walking south toward the Santa Fe Trail. I was looking for unclaimed land suitable for farming. My savings were about gone and time was running out to find a suitable claim. I followed the Santa Fe Trail and joined a wagon train of merchants headed for Santa Fe. There was a spirit of good will between us that will never be forgotten. The fact that I was without funds never came up. I could earn my board by simply working my way helping others."
In December 1933, an obituary was published in the Hutchinson, Kansas, newspaper announcing the death of Laurence Burke. Laurence had died on December 18th, 1933 at age 84 years and 11 months. He died in his home on 6th Street, one block north of St. Teresa's Catholic Church. Laurence was survived by his wife, Kate, and three sons William, Edward, and George. Laurence was to be buried in the Bean Cemetery, Little River, Kansas. George's wife, Mary Donnelly Burke, my grandmother, wrote Laurence's obituary and ended the obituary with a statement from her heart: "Laurence Burke leaves many virtuous and good works faithfully performed and the ones who have been privileged to live near him for so many years are indeed the richer for the experience."
There is ample documented evidence of Laurence's character and published events to write a biography of his life. This audiobook, however, is a historic novel with Laurence Burke telling his own story.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dynasty of Laurence Burke?
The Dynasty of Laurence Burke is a biography about an Irishman who decides to leave Ireland and all its struggles in the 1800s. He could not handle the English control, so he moves to America. He says that the only things that last are “love and land” and that was what he wanted. This story tells what it is like for an Irish American to settle on the plains of Kansas. It is not easy to farm the land and build up an area that is wild. He soon finds out that trading is the best way to live when there is very little money. With the support of friends and a new wife, he is able to make a good living.
This story helps you know what it was like to settle in the West, with all its struggles whether it was a grasshopper plague or the threat of rebels. I liked that Laurence, in the last chapter, goes back to Ireland when it is finally free of the English. He wants to make sure his family has a decent marker on their graves. It was a suitable ending to this story.
What about William L. Sturdevant’s performance did you like?
I absolutely loved William's voice. Not only was it pleasant to listen to, but his Irish accent was wonderful. Since this was an autobiography of an Irishman, it was all done in first person.
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