A to Z – I is for Ireland


A to Z Blog Challenge

I is for Ireland



Over the years, I’ve trace a majority of my family from England, but I’ve found a few stuck in there from Ireland!




dublinMy 2nd great grandpa, John Francis Burke, according to family history, was from Dublin. He stowed away on an America-bound ship at the age of 15 in 1861. He was found en route and told by the captain they could not take him back. He said, “If I wanted to go back, I wouldn’t have stowed away.” They dropped him off in Florida – right at the beginning of the Civil War.

I’ve found Confederate records of three different men who could be him. I’m not sure which, if any, is him. He next shows up in the 1880 census married to Nancy Didama Spencer and living with her family in Mississippi.

Another 2nd great grandpa was Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene. He doesn’t have much of a history. Seems his parents died when he was young. Family rumor has it the Keene family also came from Dublin and were originally O’Keene.


My 7th great grandpa James Rogers came from Tyrone County in Northern Ireland. Looks like a beautiful place! He was married to Mary McPherson. Go ahead, say that with an Irish accent!



I find it interesting that all these people came from another part of the world, joined in marriage and children, and the outcome was ME! We ancestry-type people spend so much time thinking of the past. I wonder if they did too. And, I wonder if they ever thought of the distant future. My mind doesn’t go much past children and grandchildren. What if seven generation from now, people we couldn’t even imagine are thinking about us?


Ina Inez Burke’s birthday?

earl culpepper and ina burkeMy grandmother, Ina Inez Burke Culpepper, was a warm and wonderful woman. We always celebrated her birthday on February 9, her death certificate lists her birth as February 9, her tombstone is chiseled February 9. Imagine my surprise when I received her birth certificate stating she was born at 10:00 pm on February 8!

ina burke birth cert

She was born in Mississippi in 1915 to John Patrick “Pat” Burke and Mary Howington Burke. She was the eldest of seven children, one dying as an infant. She grew up with three brothers and two sisters.

marriage license earl culpepper and ina burke

She married Earl Culpepper at the age of 21 on 1 Aug 1936. The union produced two daughters and four grandchildren. (The little girl is me!)

earl, ina, and grandchildren

Ina was a great cook and a professional seamstress, working at Meridian’s Burnley Shirt Factory. She spent many hours teaching me to sew when I was small. I was too young to get under her feet in the kitchen and still regret not being able to make biscuits as good as hers.

She died in 1975 of complications of aortic valve replacement. I always thought she died at the age of 59, but now I wonder if she was only 58.

She is laid to rest at Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Newton County, Mississippi, not far from where she was born.

burke Ina Inez Burke headstone



52 Ancestors #40 – On This Day – James Otis Burke

I’ve been participating in the “52 Ancestor” challenge all year, following along with the weekly themes and having a great time. BUT…I work out of the country for months at a time and generally write and schedule the blogs in advance. APPARENTLY, someone has dropped the ball in getting the October themes posted. As I type this in the real word today is Sept 24 and I leave for the month of October on Sep 26. I have today and tomorrow to write and schedule October’s ancestry blogs. SO, I’m forced to blog without themes.

I also write a blog called “On This Day,” which takes place on the day of the birth/death/anniversary/etc. of an ancestor, BUT I’ve not posted many “On This Day” blogs this year because I’ve been doing “52 Ancestors.”

Guess we’ll have to combine the two for the month of October.

James Otis Burke and son Jerry BurkeTHEREFORE, I present to you “52 Ancestors” “On This Day in 2003”

James Otis Burke

James Otis Burke (photo with infant son), whom we loving called Uncle Otis died on this day in 2003. He was my grandmother’s younger brother, my great uncle, born 14 Feb 1922 to John Patrick Burke and Mary Elizabeth Howington. He was the middle child of seven children, one who died as an infant. He was born and raised in Little Rock, Newton County, MS. There’s not much in Newton County but farmland, but the city of Meridian isn’t far away.

In 1941 at the age of 19, he served in the United States Army during WWII.

When he returned from the war, he married Luna Marie Arledge and they had three children. One boy and two girls. I remember my mother speaking of her cousins so lovingly. They were products of the 50s generation. I’m sure they spent many nights at the drive-in in town, and I picture them hanging out together just like the “Happy Days” TV show.

Uncle Otis buried his wife in 1990. She died at the age of 66. He never remarried.

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He died on October 1, 2003 at the age of 81 and is buried with his wife at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Newton County.

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52 Ancestors #24 The Heirloom


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small and this week’s theme is “Heirloom.”

I wish I could say I have lots of old stuff, but alas, I have nearly nothing. I have my maternal grandfather’s old cigar box, and a silver makeup compact from my paternal great grandmother, but the most prize possession is now gone. For a while I had possession of my maternal grandmother’s sewing machine, but it was lost in a move years ago. She was an amazing seamstress and worked for the Burnley Shirt Factory in Meridian, Mississippi. I’m certain she’s in this Burnley employee picture taken in 1939, but it’s so small, I haven’t been able to find her. I don’t even know that I could even recognize her in a picture from 1939.

Burnley Shirt Factory 1939

She died at the age of 59 in 1975 and is still greatly missed. This is her, holding me.

Ina Inez Burke Culpepper 1915-1975

burke ina and gdaughter lori

52 Ancestors #13 Ina Inez Burke Culpepper


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small, and this week’s theme is “different.”

My grandmother died March 1, 1975

Meridian Star

March 4, 1975 

Mrs. Ina Culpepper

Services for Mrs. Ina Inez Culpepper, 60, were to be held at 10 a.m. today at Stephens Funeral Home Chapel, Revs. Roger Leggert and Charles Davis officiating. Burial was to be in Liberty Cemetery, Newton County.

Mrs. Culpepper died Saturday in a Meridian hospital. She was a member of First Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Survivors include her husband, Earl W. Culpepper, Meridian; two daughters, Mrs. Bobbie McQueen, Meehan, Mrs. Linda Hegwood, Utica, Mich.; two sisters, Mrs. Ellen Scarbrough, Houston, Tex., Mrs. Myrnis Howard, Meridian; three brothers, Willam Otho Burke, James Otis Burke, and E. O. Burke, all of Duffee, and four grandchildren. 


Mamaw and Papaw with grandkidsIna was my maternal grandmother. She was born in 1915 to Mary Elizabeth Howington and John Patrick “Pat” Burke. Her Howington side was English and Choctaw Indian. Her Burke side was English and Irish. She was the eldest, with four little brothers and two little sisters. One of the boys died as an infant, but the rest of her siblings outlived her and are listed in her obituary. Her mother also outlived her by two years, but for some reason, is not listed.

At the age of 21 in 1936, Ina married Earl Culpepper and had two daughters, one in 1938 and one in 1944. She worked as a seamstress at Burnley Shirt Factory in Meridian, MS and could sew anything just by looking at it in the store for a few minutes. She was a fabulous cook, a quiet woman, and she loved her four grandchildren. The little girl in the photo is me. 🙂

We always celebrated her birthday on February 9. Her tombstone says February 9. Her death certificate says February 9.

Her birth certificate says February 8. It was signed on February 8. It was filed in the state of MS on February 8.

burke Ina Inez Burke headstone

52 Ancestors #5 Mary Elizabeth Howington


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small, and this week’s theme is “Plowing through.”

There are a few ways to interpret this week’s theme, Plowing Through, and the first thing that comes to mind is a farmer, but I’ve decided to take a different perspective. Here is an ancestor that was so hard to trace, I had to Plow Through for a long time to find answers.

My great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Howington Burke.

Granny Burke was a million years old when I was a child, so I never paid her much mind. But as I grew older and began researching my ancestors, I thought back on those days and wished I would have sat down and talked to her about her family.

burke Mary Howington Burke headstoneShe came from poor roots, born in 1893 to John Thomas Howington and Florence Smith. She was followed by seven siblings, including a brother named Milton Howington whom we called “Uncle Sug”(as in sugar) while I was growing up. In 1914, she married John Patrick “Pat” Burke and had seven children, including my grandmother Ina Burke. Pat died in 1958 and Mary died in 1977. They are buried at Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Duffee, Mississippi. That’s all the information I had for years. She lived a quiet life in the country and did not leave a paper trail.

culpepper annie blanks culpepper obitOne day, I read an obituary for my other great grandmother, Annie Culpepper, one that I had read many, many times before, but something stuck out this time. It said Annie was survived by her children, including my grandfather, Earl Culpepper, and a daughter named Mae Howington. First of all, I was sure “Mae” was referring my grandfather’s little sister Zeffie Mae. Second of all, who was this Howington my great aunt Zeffie was married to? Could this Howington be related to Mary Howington? (Note: my grandfather Earl Culpepper was married to Mary Howington’s daughter, Ina Burke.)

As I plowed through documents, made phone calls to elderly family members, and lived inside the time-sucking monster we call Ancestry.com for a whole week, I found the answers about Mary Howington’s ancestry.

Zeffie Mae Culpepper Howington was married to Milton “Uncle Sug” Howington. My grandpa’s little sister was married to grandma’s uncle. By tracing Milton Howington, who left tons of records, I uncovered the whole Howington clan.

The hardest part was explaining to my aunt that her “Uncle Sug” was also her mother’s “Uncle Sug.”

Welcome to the South.

52 Ancestors #1 John Francis Burke


This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small. I’m late in joining, but will catch up this week. The challenge for week one is “A Fresh Start.” That being said…

May I present my great great grandfather, John Francis Burke

There is no ancestor in my tree who made such a dramatic effort at a fresh start as John Francis Burke.

He was born in Dublin on February 27, 1847 in the middle of the potato blight in Ireland. One million people died of starvation and another million left the country. One can imagine how the family struggled. Not much is known about his parents or his childhood, but a family member told me his sibling had the same names as his children, so I expect there was a Patrick, Robert, Emmett, Nina, Virginia, Kathleen, David, and/or an Edmond somewhere in the bunch, and if I ever venture to Dublin, I should be able to find family records.

culpepper book 2 cover ideaWhen John was a young lad of 15, he snuck down to the shipyard and stowed away on an American-bound ship. After they set sail, the captain found him en route and told him the ship couldn’t take him back home. He replied to the captain, “If I wanted to go home, I wouldn’t have stowed away.” We don’t know the relationship or lack of one he had with his parents, but we can imagine a mother searching for her fifteen-year-old son and being heartbroken. I don’t know if he ever contacted his family after leaving Dublin.

The ship dropped him off in Miami, Florida in 1862. Yes, 1862, during the middle of the Civil War. Confederate War Records show a couple men with similar names that could be him serving in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. The 1870 census shows a couple names that could be him: one in Florida and one in Alabama. He finally shows up in the 1880 census as being a “ditcher” and living with his new in-laws, the Spencer family.

On December 10, 1879, at the age of 32, he married Nancy Didama Spencer in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. Over the next fourteen years, they had six children: John Patrick, Robert Emmett, George Washington, Nina Virginia, Kathlene L, and David Edmond.

burke JP Burke Sr headstoneAfter John’s death August 18, 1909, the 1910 census shows Nancy as a widow with five children still at home.

John is laid to rest at Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Duffee, Mississippi, among children and grandchildren.

His son John Patrick “Pat” (my great grandfather) was a fiddle player on the weekends at barn dances. I wonder if Pat learned to play from his father. Playing the fiddle is such an Irish thing to do, don’t you think?