With the development of the farming interests of Brown county, Joseph Kirk has been actively identified, and that he is to-day numbered among the most substantial citizens of the community is a fact that is attributable to his own enterprising efforts and capable management. He was born in Giles county, Virginia, November 21, 1824, and his boyhood days were spent upon the home farm, while in the subscription schools he obtained his education.
His parents, Lewis and Margaret (Holstetter) Kirk, were both natives of the Old Dominion, in which state they were married. The father was of Scotch descent, the mother of German lineage. They made their home upon a farm in Virginia until 1829, when they removed to Ross county, Ohio, the father being employed in the iron works there. In 1859 they came to Kansas, making their home with their son, Joseph. The mother died in 1865 and the father passed away in 1879, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. Both were members of the Christian church and were people of charitable and benevolent purpose and gave freely of their means to the poor and needy. The father was originally a Whig, but afterward became a Republican. He took an active interest in the educational affairs and did all in his power to advance the welfare of the schools. In his family were three sons: Joseph; Absalom, who died in Montgomery county, Ohio; and David, who remained in Virginia.
Joseph Kirk was a child of only four summers when the family left Virginia and removed to Ohio. During his boyhood he aided his father in chopping wood about the iron works and his youth was one of toil. On attaining his majority he began business for himself and, removing to Illinois, was employed as a farm hand for two years. On the expiration of that period he returned to Ohio, where he acted as an engineer. The following year he emigrated to Iowa and was employed as an engineer in a woolen mill and sawmill at Oskaloosa for a year. Later he operated an engine in another county for two years and in 1856 came to Kansas on a prospecting tour. After spending some time in this state he returned to Iowa and in 1858 started to Salt Lake. Going to Nebraska City, however, he proceeded thence to St. Joseph. Missouri, and near there secured a position as engineer in a saw-mill. The same year he came to Brown county and filed a claim of land, upon which he now resides. In 1859 he entered it from the government and began improving it. He has lived here since and is now the owner of a valuable tract of two hundred and forty-two acres, pleasantly located near the town of Morrill.
His nearest neighbor was three miles distant at the time of his arrival.. Little farming was being done in the county at that time, few roads had been laid out and the settlers could ride across the prairie in any direction without trespassing upon another's property. Hiawatha, the county seat, had been located, but contained only two houses and the nearest market was Iowa Point. Like all early settlers Mr. Kirk had no money, having everything to make and nothing to lose. Soon, however, he had some of his land broken and he increased his capital by working for the Morrill saw-mill. In this way he earned enough lumber to build a shanty and also to buy some posts and cottonwood lumber for fencing. After a year he began farming in earnest and prosperity has come to him as time has passed. He has met with many hardships and difficulties and passed through the year of great drought, when general distress prevailed. This was in 1860 and his crop was only four bushels of potatoes. Major Morrill was chosen as the proper man to receive the supplies sent from other states and he detailed Mr. Kirk to distribute the same for his township. Mr. Kirk found distress everywhere. The people were too poor to go away and had to make the best of their hard conditions. For some years afterward crops were excellent until 1875, when the grasshoppers destroyed everything that had been raised. Many of the settlers, however, who at that time were almost destitute, have become prosperous citizens of the community. Mr. Kirk has, by indomitable perseverance and energy, acquired a handsome competence and is to-day one of the most prosperous farmers in the community. He has witnessed the entire development of the county, has seen the introduction of railroads, telegraph and telephone, while thriving towns and villages have been established and the work of progress has been steadily continued. It was through his efforts that the petition was circulated resulting in the establishment of the post office at Morrill. He gave the name to the town and aided in building a platform on which the mail could be thrown from the train. He organized the county, borrowed money and built the first house and store in the town. He was connected with the store for a few years. until Morrill had become a prosperous and thriving village and other stores and business enterprises were established. He was also a member of the Farmers' Alliance and the Grange, and became one of the organizers and stockholders of the bank. He was also instrumental in placing the mill in operation at Morrill and has aided in establishing all enterprises in that country.
As the years have passed he was actively concerned with the enterprise and progress of this locality. He has also successfully conducted his private business interests and is recognized as one of the leading farmers of this community. He bought land from time to time until his homestead now comprises two hundred and forty-two acres. This is improved with a commodious two-story residence, a large barn and other necessary outbuildings, none of the accessories and conveniences of the model farm being lacking. In connection with the cultivation of the fields he has successfully carried on stock raising and has found it a profitable source of income. His home is pleasantly located two and a half miles southeast of Morrill.
In 1878 Mr. Kirk was united in marriage to Mrs. Louisa Stofer, the widow of Oliver Stofer. She was born in Portage county, Ohio, in 1844, and by her first marriage had one child, Halden L., who is now married. Mrs. Kirk is a daughter of M. and Mary (Kenyon) Glimps, the former a native of New Jersey and the latter of New York. The father was of German descent, made farming his life work and died in Iowa. The mother was a member of the Society of Friends or Quakers. This worthy couple had nine children: Nathaniel, Sallie A., Benjamin F., David, Louisa, Elizabeth A., M. C., Mary and Harriet. Elizabeth A. is the wife of L. Snell, of Kansas, and, with the exception of Mrs. Kirk, is the only member of the family living in this state. Unto our subject and his wife have been born two daughters: Maude E., the wife of H. Scott, and Josephine, at home. The mother and daughters are members of the Christian church. In his political views Mr. Kirk was formerly a stanch Republican, but strongly favors free silver and will vote for the party that advocates that monetary system. After long and active years of a honorable business career Mr. Kirk is accounted to-day one of the substantial citizens of northeastern Kansas, and his example in many respects is well worthy of emulation, showing what can be accomplished through resolute purpose and keen discrimination in business affairs.