James Graham Burke

(from CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF ARKANSAS, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
(Chicago and Little Rock) 1922.
vol. 3, pp. 427-428)

A native of Phillips county is J. G. Burke, who was born on a farm ten miles northwest of Helena on the 18th of September, 1891. His parents, Moses and Jennie (Goodwin) Burke, were both born in this county. The father died on the 4th of June, 1904. His widow survives him. The paternal grandfather, Elisha Burke, was a native of Ireland who came to this country at in early day and located in Phillips county about 1831 or 1832. [Note: Elisha Burke was not born in Ireland; he was from Chowan or Perquimans County, NC] He had a large plantation here and was one of the most prominent and wealthy men of his day. Upon his demise in 1861 he left to his children a large estate. Sanford Goodwin, the grandfather on the maternal side, was likewise a pioneer of Phillips county, where he was prominently known. Moses Burke engaged in planting in this state for many years and owned a valuable farm of seven hundred and forty-two acres at the time of his demise. To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Burke six children were born: A. G., who is engaged in planting near Helena and who was circuit clerk for fourteen years; Elisha, manager of the Cotton Oil Company and likewise active in brokerage circles here; Ethel, who is the wife of Paul Smith of Helena, a prominent lumberman and senior member of the firm of Smith & Hopkins; Oscar, who is engaged in the mercantile business in Melwood; Jennie, who is living in Helena with her mother; and J. G., whose name initiates this review. The religious faith of Mr. Burke was that of the Baptist church, while Mrs. Burke is a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South. Politically Mr. Burke was a stanch democrat.

In the acquirement of his early education J. G. Burke attended the country schools in the vicinity of the home farm and in due time enrolled in the law department of the Arkansas State University at Little Rock. He was a student there one year--1913--and then entered Vanderbilt University, where he took a special law course. For one year he attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. In 1913 Mr. Burke was admitted to the bar and in the latter part of that year he located in Helena for the practice of his profession. He has since resided here and has won for himself an enviable position among the foremost members of the bar in the state. For three years he was active as deputy prosecuting attorney and since April, 1917, he has been holding the office of municipal judge. He devotes his entire time to his profession and well merits the success he has achieved.

On the 4th of November, 1915, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Burke to Miss Myrtie Kitchens, a native of this county, and a daughter of Frank F. Kitchens, deceased, who was at one time sheriff of Phillips county. To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Burke one child has been born, James Franklin, two and one-half years of age.

Mr. Burke has always given his political allegiance to the democratic party and the principles for which it stands. He is a close student of the living issues of the day and there is no movement for the development and improvement of the general welfare of the town, county and state that seeks his aid in vain. The religious faith of the family is that of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and fraternally Mr. Burke is identified with the Woodmen of the World, Columbian Woodmen and the Masons. In the latter craft he has taken the York Rite and now holds membership in the Consistory and Shrine. He is readily conceded to be one of the leading citizens in Helena and Phillips county is proud to number him among her native sons.