Burke, James (unknown–1880)

By: Louise Kelly

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

James Burke, Presbyterian missionary, popularly known as the "Sunday School Man," was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, and spent his childhood in Tennessee. In 1837 he sold his prosperous business in Natchez, Mississippi, and moved to San Augustine, Texas, where he aided in organizing the Cumberland Presbyterian church and was made a ruling elder. He aided also in organizing the Austin church and a presbytery. While assistant clerk in the House of the first session of the Second Congress of Texas, he edited a small daily that gave reports of the activities of Congress. This apparently was the first daily paper in Texas. After serving as a private in Company B of the Texan Santa Fe expedition in 1841, he sought in 1842 to revive the Galveston Daily Advertiser. in Galveston. He was married, a second time, in Brazoria to Mrs. Catharine B. Dart in 1843. He continued to run businesses at intervals in Austin, Galveston, and Houston, while holding various offices in the Home Missionary Society, the Texas National Bible Society, the Sons of Temperance, and the American Sunday School Union. He was corresponding secretary of the Texas Literary Institute in 1847 and for many years sought to introduce more desirable textbooks in the schools. He traveled over Texas for forty years and was given a friendly welcome everywhere. He had, it is said, never been assailed or insulted, never carried a weapon or felt the need of one. He was connected with all the most prominent benevolent and religious efforts in Texas. Burke died in Houston on August 5, 1880.

William Stuart Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1936).
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Louise Kelly, “Burke, James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/burke-james.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994