Christiana Bourne Curtis Burke, a little less mysterious…

I had a few days off, and set myself with the tasks of cleaning all the cupboards, and looking for the family of Christiana Bourne, my 4th Great Grandmother.  I must admit, that although I did get some cupboards cleaned, along with laundry, some light cooking, and a trip to a museum with the kids, I really spent a fair amount of time loafing with my laptop, teasing out the tiny strands of information I had about Christiana.

I’ve only known her name for a few months, because until recently, Christiana’s granddaughter, Mary Burke, was one of my brick walls, my impenetrable mysteries.  I knew nothing about her family before her marriage to Thomas O’Malley, as recorded in the Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic church records; it also recorded the baptisms of her three sons, Thomas Archibaldy, Charles Francis, and Patrick Burke, whom she raised in Donaldsonville, a city in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, set along the Mississippi.  I’ve written a bit about this family in other posts.

Then, a distant cousin happened upon one of my queries about this family, and helped me make a connection to a very interesting branch of the family including Irish revolutionaries, judges, writers, survivors of the Grand Derangement of the Acadians, and yes, slaveholders.  Their stories unfolded in the bayous of Louisiana and the windswept farmland of Acadia, in what is now Nova Scotia, Canada. They came from Trinity College and Boston’s fledgling newspaper business.

Cousin Nance informed me that Mary Burke’s full name was Mary Rosa Burke; and that she was the daughter of Judge John Junius Burke and Alexandrine Millet of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  She gave me a link to a google book about the Judge’s father, John Daly Burke, the Irish Revolutionary and American newspaperman, writer, and historian who penned a multi-volume history of Virginia and was killed in an idiotic duel that left his young son orphaned.  More on him also in another post.  Because the one I learned more about today was John D. Burke’s wife, Christiana Bourne, widow of Benjamin Curtis, and mother of Henry and Benjamin Curtis, and John Junius Burke.

I knew that Christiana Borne / Bourne was from Boston, but whether that meant actual Boston or the Boston Area as interpreted by southerners, was unclear.  Her granddaughter, Junia Burke, a sister of my 2nd great gmom, wrote this to Charles Campbell who was compiling a biography of John Daly Burke:

“I am sorry not to have it in my power to give you more information of my grandmother, but she died when my father was quite a child. I have heard from others that she was an exceedingly elegant, dignified lady, and was particularly remarkable for her beautiful hair, which swept the floor as she sate in her chair. She died at Mr Hodijah Meade’s, in Amelia county, when on her way to the Virginia springs, and was buried in his family burying ground.”

Campbell wrote: “… the subject of the following sketch afterwards married in Virginia the widow Curtis, nee Borne….

“She had two sons: Henry and Benjamin. Henry was a physician, and married a sister of John Tyler, sometime president of the United States. Dr Curtis settled at Hanover town, in Hanover county, Va., about the year 1818, and practiced medicine in that county for near half a century. He was a man of talents, of cultivated mind and estimable disposition, and remarkable for his decision of character. He had a son named Tyler, another son Armistead is now living in the vicinity of Richmond, Va.  Benjamin Curtis, brother of Henry, was a lawyer at Petersburg in 1808.”

That’s what I had to work with. I knew her name, her approximate death date, the name of both her husbands.  So I went looking for Bourne families in Massachusetts.  I found that there were at least five immigrant ancestors named Bourne, all from England, most were unrelated to one another.  I kept digging and digging, posting queries and combing through records, following the lines of the various Bourne families down through the generations, eliminating lineage after lineage.

Then, this morning, one of my queries bore fruit, and a kind person referred me to a family tree that indicated Christiana Bourne was the daughter of David Bourne of Falmouth, Massachusetts.  I went looking for primary sources. Then a second kind person responded to the same query with a link to a website with the Falmouth, Mass., Vital Records to 1850.  Bingo!  There they all are!

Christiana Bourne, daughter of David Bourne and Mary Hathaway, born August 12th, 1767 in Falmouth.  There too are the births of her siblings, her parents’ marriage, the births of her aunts and uncles.  Her marriage to Benjamin Curtis is also recorded there.  I have not yet found a record for her marriage to Burke.

I’ve learned that David Bourne was the son of John Bourne and Mercy Hinckley, also of Falmouth.  John was the son of Col. Melatiah Bourne and Desire Chipman. Melatiah was the son of Shearjashub Bourne, yes, that’s spelled right, and Bathsheba Skiffe.  Shearjashub was the son of Rev. Richard Bourne and Bathsheba Hallett. Richard was the immigrant ancestor, a preacher who dedicated his life to working with the Indians, trying to improve their lot, as he saw it.


All that an clean cupboards too!



Some materials to serve for a brief memoir of John Daly Burk: author of a History of Virginia. With a sketch of the life and character of his only child, Judge John Junius Burk, by Charles Campbell

Vital Records of Falmouth, Mass., to 1850