What follows is a transcription of the diary of William
Robert Kirk, written in 1864 to 1866. It is transcribed verbatim,
and if clarification is added, it is in the form of italics within
Dan L. Philen
Notes in added by DJB.
W. R. Kirk's Journal 1866
My great grandfather, James Kirk of Scotch descent was
born and raised in Antrim Co. near Bellimony, Ireland.
He had four sons: James, John, Robert, and Mathew.
- James remained in Ireland; the other three came over to America in
- John Kirk went to Tennessee with a large family and lived and died
- I have no knowledge of my Grandfather's bro. Robert,
after he came to America.
- My Grand father, Mathew Kirk, who was the youngest of four brothers,
was also born in Antrim Co. near Bellimony, Ireland, A.D. 1760. Emigrated
to America in 1773 when he was thirteen years old: Married Grace
Johnson, my Grand Mother, in 1787.
Grand Mother Kirk , of Irish descent, was born in Lancaster District,
South Carolina, 1769.
Grand father Kirk died in Lancaster District South Carolina, June
1837 aged 77 years.
Grand Mother Kirk died at the same place 1858, aged 89 years.
They raised eight children, four sons and four daughters.
- Mary, the oldest married John Countryman and moved to Georgia. I
know nothing else of them.
- William, the next oldest, married Miss Kitchen in S.C. and afterwards
moved to Pickens County Ala. where he died.
Three of his sons studied medicine and are practicing successfully. Robert
is in Pickens, County, William in Fayette and Dixon in Noxuber Mississippi
at this date 1864.
The oldest daughter married Dr. Perry who was living at Vienna on
the Bigbee (Tombigbee) River in 1864. Another of his daughters
married Dr. Rediss and was living at the same time in Fayette County
Ala. Another one married Mr. Hurst and moved to Arkansas. Another
married Mr. ___ and died in green Co. Ala. in 1865.
- Rebecca, Grand father's third child married Henry Coffee. Do not
know what became of them.
- Robert married Miss Kitchen and moved to Pickens County Ala. He raised
several children. His oldest Daughter Mary, Married Dr. R. N. Kirk,
- Agnes the 6th child, married John Harper. I know nothing of
- Grace, the 7th child, married James M. Shaver, who at last
accounts were still living in South Carolina
- Mathew B. married, lived, and died in S.C.
Grand father had other children which died young.
James Kirk, my father, was born in Lancaster District, South Carolina,
May 10th 1794, and was my Grand father's fourth child. He
came to Ala. in 1818, when he was 24 years old. He married Jane Walker,
my mother, in 1823 when he was 29 years of age. Died June 21, 1857,
aged 63 years, 1 month, and 19 days.
Andrew Walker, my grandfather on mother's side, was of Irish descent. Married
Miss Moore. They lived for several years on Pigeon Creek, Clarke
County, Alabama but afterward bought land in Wilcox Co and moved to
it where they spent the remainder of their days.
Andrew Walker, my grandfather on my mother's side was of Irish descent
and was born in __. Married Miss Moore, my grandmother on my mother's
They lived for several years on Pigeon Creek in Clark County, Alabama,
but afterwards bought land on Bear Creek in Wilcox, County, Ala.,
and moved to it where they spent the remainder of their days. Grandfather
Walker died ___. Grandmother Walker died ___.
They raised several children. The orders of their ages I am not sure
that I can give correctly.
I think however, that Aunt Elenor was
the oldest. She married Absalom Rogers of Clark County, Ala. a man
of fine sense and good family an energetic, persevering man. They
made money and raised a nice family.
- Uncle James Walker was much afflicted
with Rheumatism. He never married.
- Aunt Elizabeth married John Walker (no kin) a good natured man, but
lacked enterprise, energy and industry.
- Aunt Mary married Wesley Philen.
- Aunt Rhoda married William Walker, (no kin). The same may be said
of him that I said of Jno. Walker his brother.
- Aunt ___ married James Walker (no kin) an indolent lazy man.
- Aunt Sarah married Levi McCurdy: a singular man - but an industrious
hardworking man and raised his family well.
- Aunt Gruer married Mr. Tanner in Pacgagoula (sic) was doing
well last heard from.
- Uncle John Walker married a widow Philen.
- Uncle Andrew Walker married Catharine Philen. He died___.
- Jane Walker, my mother was born South Carolina I think, and was married
to James Kirk, my father, and died in Wilcox County, Ala., aged___.
They lived several years on Pigeon Creek in Clark County Ala. Father
moved to Wilcox County in ___ and bought land on Bear Creek, engaged
in farming until his decease.
- Brother Andrew. My eldest brother, was never married. He was
afflicted with Rheumatism. Notwithstanding he had a good mind, which
he cultivated, had a great deal of firmness, and unyielding will and
untiring energy, persevering in all his undertakings - a right disciplinarian
loved to command but was not overbearing. He was always cheerful
and delighted with the society of refined women. He was well formed,
had black hair, fair skin and blue eyes. He was handsome, intelligent,
prudent, cheerful, and strictly moral, and was a general favorite
among all, especially the women. He never engaged in anything but
that he succeeded. He died Nov. 3rd 1848, aged___.
- Brother Mathew, was the next oldest. His complexion was every
way like Bro. Andrew's. Was about six feet high - large frame - heavy
set square shouldered - a little stooped - weighed about two hundred
pounds and when dressed up was fine looking. He was always disposed
to be wild during his youth. Was easily led off. Never had the moral
courage and firmness of my oldest brother. He was passionately fond
of fun and was exceedingly mischievous. Would take pleasure in teasing
his younger brothers and sisters. Was not meddlesome nor quarrelsome,
nor overbearing but would fight anything and anybody when imposed
upon. He left father when about twenty one years old and started
west, but on arriving at Vicksburg, Miss. changed his mind and concluded
to return home. On his return home he stopped in Nishaba County,
Miss. where he settled and is still living. He married Huldah Jones
when she was about thirteen years old. Strange Notion - to marry
a mere child, but she made him a good wife. they now have a family
of seven or eight children. It was six years after he first left
father before he visited us again. He embraced religion when about
thirty years old, joined the Missionary Baptist Church, and finally
accepted a license to preach from his church. Don't think he ever
preached much. He was poorly educated but had a good mind, was a
close observer, and a man of sound judgement and understood human
nature well - passionately fond of vocal music - had a musical voice,
would have made a fine orator, was gifted in prayer.
- Brother James next oldest, was of fair complexion, red hair, blue
eyes, about six feet high - had a strong constitution, a little stooped,
of an ardent temperament - he had a taste for farming. Was from his
boyhood religiously inclined. Left father after he was twenty one
years old and commenced business for himself. His first effort was
to work on a farm as a hireling at 50 cts per day. Was never stingy,
but when he commenced doing business for himself, practiced rigid
economy and in a few years had lands and other property to the value
of some fifteen or twenty thousand dollars. He married Louisa Yow. He
joined the Confederate Army in winter of 1862. Made a good soldier. Was
captured at the battle of Missionary Ridge, carried to Rock Island
Ill. where he died soon after. He left four children. His widow married
J. D. Clark in 1866.
- Brother John, next oldest was complected every way like James. Was
not so tall- well made, rather heavy built - and was always steady
and possessed more firmness than any of us. Was slow to form his
plans, but when they were once formed no small matter could forbid
their execution. He embraced religion when young and always tried
to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith he was called. He carried
his religion with him every where, into his business and in his family. He
was for several years a class leader. He married Mary Drury, our step
Mother's niece, who made him a faithful and affectionate companion.
She died in the latter part of 1861 and left him with six children.
A few months after he was married again to Nancy Clark. He lived
with her a short time, joined the C.S.A. Was under Gen. Joe (Joseph)
E. Johnson, was wounded in one of the battles between Dalton and Atlanta. He
went with Gen. Hood on his unfortunate campaign into Tenn. and was
captured near Nashville and taken to Camp Chase, Ohio, where he died
about the time of surrender. He made a faithful soldier and maintained
his Christian integrity to the last. In all his life he was timid
and reserved, but firm. He endeavored to train his children for the
Lord - I think perhaps that he was rather too rigid in his discipline
over his children. They are left orphans in this cold and heartless
- Grace, the next oldest, has the same complexion of John and James. When
she was young she was pretty, although I say it myself, was well made,
a nice form for a lady - a sweet disposition, a kind sweet and affectionate
sister. She married Eli Brasell, who always provided well, but -
had an unhappy disposition was given somewhat to dissipation. He
was in the C.S.A. was captured at Fort Gaines - carried to Ship Island
where he died under the inhuman treatment of Negroes and Yankees.
- Jane, the next oldest, was composed like Grace, was not pretty,
she married W. C. Clark. She too possessed a good disposition, was
quick in all her movements and always cheerful, never despondent.
She and her husband commenced life poor, did well and lived happily
together. She now has six children. When she was married her husband
was addicted to dissipation slightly but by her gentleness, kindness,
and affection, influenced him to become sober - he is now a consistent
member of the Methodist Church. She had trained her children to pray.
- Mary, the next oldest was my youngest sister. Her complexion was
like that of my other sisters, save that she has sandy slight hair. When
young was inclined to be flashy - was fine looking - had an unusual
sweetness of spirit and disposition. At the age of 17 she married
S. G. Davis (Sam), a widower with two children. They lived happily
together until the summer of 1860 when he died, and left her with
five children, four girls and one little boy. She always lacked self
confidence . Gentle, mild, affectionate, unassuming, rather retiring
in her manner.
- Oliver. Oldest half brother. Younger than myself has complexion
like John and James, Grace and Jane such that his eyes are dark and
his hair unusually red. He is about five feet 11 inches high, very
stout considerably rounded about the shoulders - rather fickle very
lively - talks a great deal - works hard - energetic, but wants economy
- rather fractious at times.
- Calvin Cellers, next oldest half bro. fair complexion, dark eyes
black hair, well formed and like Oliver weighed about one hundred
and eighty pounds. He was firm and unshaken in his purposes. Would
meddle no one and would suffer no one to meddle with or impose on
him. He and Oliver joined the C.S.A. in the fall of '61. I think. Oliver
went through the war without being hurt - was captured once and kept
in prison at Camp Chase Ohio for 7 months.
Calvin was killed in the battle of Chickamauga, was buried on the
battle field in the same grave with twenty seven others of his comrades. A
brave and noble boy. I loved him while he lived. I wept over him
when he fell. I'll cherish his memory while I have breath.
rest, thy warfare's o're The
cause for which you died is lost but it was no fault of thine. Thou
didst thy part well well. May angels guard my brave boy's grave.
Sleep the sleep that knows no waking."
- Joseph, my youngest half brother, is much like Calvin every way. One
description will do for both. He has a good mind but lacks energy. Has
a strong attachment for whatever is his. These three half brothers
were delivered up to my charge by father on his death bed, hence I
have more than a brotherly feeling for them. Owing to the very poor
educational facilities in the community where we lived and the extreme
hard times I have been unable to educate them. All my brothers and
sisters received but little training mental, but their moral training
was very good, better than most of others etc.
My father was a man of very limited education. He had a good mind. Nature
did much for him in this respect - had a strong memory. He studied
no book but the Bible, much of which he had committed to memory. He
delighted in the Psalms of David and Proverbs of Solomon. I have
met very few ministers who could quote from the Bible so appropriately
and readily as he could.
His father and mother were old Seceders "after the strictest sect." It
was from them he learned to memorize Scripture. All through his childhood
and youth his Sabbaths were employed in the catechetical exercises
and he venerated the Sabbath to his last day.
He was always thoughtful, never spoke at random - would rarely speak
harshly of anyone before his children. Was kind and obliging to all,
and devoted to the interest of his children. There never was a more
self-denying, self-sacrificing father for the sake of his children
in everything save education. He always seemed to think that to read
and write - and a knowledge of the primary rules of arithmetic was
sufficient. I have always been astonished at his views on this subject
when I think of his good and sound judgment in every thing else. He
was decidedly in favor of an educated minister. He was always peaceable,
rarely had any difficulties. I never new (sic) him to have
a violent personal enemy. He had but little to do with the world
outside his own private matters. He never saw the courthouse of his
county save as a juror.
He was proverbially honest, frugal and industrious and always had
friends. He lived in the Methodist Church the last eighteen years
of his life but always favored Calvinism. This was owing to early
training by his parents, who as I have already said were rigid Seceders. A
more industrious and energetic hard working man never lived. No man
was tried harder to moddle (sic) his children after himself
than he did.
My mother! Thoughts of her always make me sad. She died when I was
but thirteen months old. From what father and my brothers and sisters
have told me, I realize she had every qualification of a mother save
an education. I have often thought that she must have been in some
respects superior to all other women, Is it wrong for me to say this? She
had a large family of children, some of whom were selfwilled and head
strong - and yet I have heard that she was never known to manifest
the least impatience towards us, and I have nay heard my dear father
with tears in his eyes, for he used to tell me "of mother, that she
never spoke and unkind word to him in her life." I said in some respects
I have thought that she must have been superior to all other women. I
have been mixing and mingling among all classes of men for eleven
years, and have not found the man that could say as much for his wife
or the wife that could say as much for the husband.
I never new my father to utter a falshood (sic) nor even
the semblance of falshood (sic). Therefore I believe he literally
spoke the truth when he told me that Mother never spoke an unkind
word to him. His tears verified it.
But little did he think that. That short sentence made an indellible
(sic) impression on my mind, and that I would record it in
the future in honor of her precious memory to transcribe to generations
unborn. I would not have that sentence blotted from my memory for
all this world.
"No marble monument was (has?) marked the genuine worth and
true character of woman like this." I have often wondered why God
took her from me when I was so young. "God moves in a mysterious way. His
wonders to perform." But I shall know all about it when I get to heaven. I
never meet a masterless child but I feel sad. I have never seen a
child that appreciated a master as I think I would my own dear master
were she alive. How it would now rejoice my heart to make an anserial
pilgrimage to the old homestead, receive a masters wife, and sit down
and tell her of my suffering, joys, and labor of love in the Kingdom
and patience of Christ. Her prayers, her smiles, and her tears would
be for me. But I must close reflections. Father and brother are
gone, and (I must continue the) battle with life the best I
can. God has been with me thus far and has graciously promised never
to forsake. May I never forsake him. O God make me always worthy
of such parents.
After mother's death Father married Mrs. Margaret Southall originally
a Drury. She had an unhappy disposition. She had one child by her
William Southall and I were raised together and I loved him more than
I did any my own brothers, because we were always together I suppose. He
joined the C.S.A. and fell in the battle of Seven Pines. Brave boy: "Peace
to thy ashes."
I was the youngest of my mothers children, born in Wilcox County,
Ala. six miles from Lower Peach Tree, was as I have already stated,
left without a mother at the age of thirteen months. I had a hard
time all through my childhood and youth. Perhaps God was disciplining
me for the hardship and privations of an itinerant life. Father learned
me to be a farmer an a small scale, but never sent me to school much. Educational
facilities were thus and are still sparce in our old neighborhood.
We never had a school nearer than 2 1/2 or 3 miles of us, and then
I could get to go to school only a few months or weeks at a time,
then quit and work awhile, then go to school a little while, then
work a little while. And what was worse than all teachers were constantly
changed, and they kept on going over the same book and the same thing
again and again, without advancing me any at all. So I found a distaste
to study the effects of which I feel to this day. Besides this, our
teachers were generally ignorant and unskillful and needed being taught
themselves. But they proposed to teach Christ, and with many in that
country that was the prime qualification of a first rate school teacher.
There was another drawback. There was scarcely a man or woman in
all that country that had any just appreciation of mutual culture. The
truth is it was one of the dark corners. There was no public spirit
there. No emulation only in making corn and cotton and raising fat
hogs. All the old citizens were ignorant and generally seemed to not
want their children to get ahead of them. With that state of paiety
I grew up to manhood. My oldest brother departed from the propisten
faicto of the country, that "ignorance is bliss," and obtained a totally
fair English education. In this respect he was my only exemplar and
although I was a mere child I observed the wisdom of his course and
resolved then that I too would have an education.
There is no telling the influence his example had on me. To look
on the farm however was my lot until grown. I embraced religion and
joined the M.E. Church South when about twelve years of age. Religion
and the ministers of the gospel had much to do with my desire for
knowledge. I being little the ministers paid no attention to me,
never talked to me, never advised me but still I loved them and always
thought it an honor to get to feed the preachers horse when he came
to fathers. But I thought then that they were all learned and wise
and I wanted to be on (one) too. I worked on without ever
receiving any encouragement to acquire an education. But any purpose
was fixed sometimes however. In my twenty sixth year I resolved to
go to school two years longer and accordingly made my arrangements
and in October 1859 went to Summerfield and entered school there which
was under the control a Rev. D. C. Bloomsly. I studied hard took
but little exercise and consequently my health failed - but I continued
the session out studying Latin and mathematics. While there on the
24th of March 1860 I applied for and obtained a license to preach
the gospel. An ignorant preacher I was. I tried to preach only three
or four times during the session. My first text was "leave thou and
all thy house into the ark." I have never tried to preach from it
since. During the vacation I went with Bro. G. Garrett on the Camden
District. In the fall of sixty I went back to Summerfield and spent
another session in studying Latin, Greek, and mathematics. Preached
but little during the session. When the school was out went home
and taught a small school some four miles from home and boarded with
my old and tried friend Jno H. Pate Esqr. I also filled 9 appointments
for Bro. Ewing on the Peach Tree Circuit every month for three months. Meanwhile
intending to go to Greensboro in Oct., and take a regular collegiate
course. But Secession had taken place, war was upon us. Money was
not to be had, and I had to succumb. The people for whom I had been
preaching during the fall would not pay me neither would the people
for whom I had been teaching. So I gathered some pios (pious)
and I would become discouraged and try to arrange some other place
in my mind to make money or something else. And again I would fall
back on my old purpose to go to school and try to make something of
I the meantime father had given me a colt - and when in my twenty-first
year having never looked into our English grammar to study it - did
not know a noun from an article. Knew but little of arithmetic or
geography, did not know the different pauses in reading - my pronunciation
not good, and my handwriting hardly legible or intelligible. I sold
my colt and went of some twelve miles to a boarding school at Choctaw
Corners, in Clark County, Ala. There I stayed six months and got a
smattering of Grammar, Arithmetic Geography and composition. I might
have learned and improved more but I had no habits of study and I
was lazy. After this, I taught a small school at old Bear Creek Church
and then at a school house near where Bro. John lived. In my teaching
I gained notoriety only in a degree perfecting what I had gone over
education wise imperfectly at school. There was no money in the schools
that I taught.
I then felt it my duty to go home and stay with my father on the farm
and take care of him until his death to which I did and on his deathbed
he requested me to settle up his estate and I did so the best I could.
Accepted 18 bushels of potatoes from bro. John and brother in law
Brasell. Sent them to Mobile, got about ten dollars for my fees and
potatoes and started for Greensboro not to enter college but to join
the Ala. Conference which I did and was appointed to Grove Hill circuit.
I continued on my circuit until about the last of March 1862 and then
joined a company of Militia for which Gov. Shorter had called for
coast defense, and went to Mobile. From there we were ordered to
Halls Mills, where we stayed about five weeks. While there I received
the appointment of Chaplain to the regiment. We were then ordered
back to Mobile where we stayed until our three months expired. I
then returned to my circuit where I was willing to stay the balance
of the year.
At the close of the conference year I attended conference at Auburn
Ala. and was appointed to Choctaw Corners Circuit for 1863. At the
end of the year I attended conference at Columbus, Miss. where I was
ordained a Deacon by Bishop Andrew. I was reappointed to same circuit. The
next conference was held at Tuskeegee Ala. and I was appointed to
the Snow Hill Circuit. The next conference was held at Lowndsboro
where I was elected to Elders Orders and I was stationed at Jacksonville
Ala. for the year 1866.
From Lownsboro I went home and spent the month of December with my
relatives and first friends. I left home a few days before Christmas
to make my way to my new field of labor in the mountainous regions. I
passed through Camden and called to bid bro. Ramsey and family farewell
at Oak Hill. They know exactly how to entertain a Methodist preacher. I
shall never forget them. I then went on to Snow Hill and found my
host and hostess with whom I had been staying during 1865, well and
preparing for the Christmas festivities. I left them on the 26th
and stopping one day and night in Selma with Bro. J. A. Clement arrived
at Jacksonville on the 29th Dec. 1865 at about 10 P.M.
I put up at the Hotel and Saturday evening late I was introduced to
Bro. M. J. Turnley, with whom I spent the month of January very pleasantly
indeed. I soon became acquainted with the members of my charge and
was kindly received by all. I soon became attached to the good people
of Jacksonville. At the close of my first month I was put at Bro.
Grants to stay during the month of Feb. I remained there about six
weeks and while there fell in Love with Nora, but concealed it from
her as best I could.
Being thus satisfied at boarding round, I was put back at Bro. Turnleys
to stay during the year. So I spent two months and twenty days more
with. During the latter part of March and the first part of April
we had a most gracious revival of religion about 50 souls professed
religion and about twenty backsliders professed to be reclaimed. I
still found my love for man increasing.
Addendum and Notes
- These notes were taken from the typed transcription that Anna
Kirk Faulkner made about 1925. Her typed manuscript omits much of
the descriptive narrative of the original journal and also contains
some substantial errors. Thus, included here is the portion added
from her text that covers the time after the writing of the original.
He (William R. Kirk) volunteered in Militia. Was
chaplain of his regiment. He married Margaret Lenora Grant in Jacksonville,
Ala. He died in 1893. He was at the time of his death in charge
of First Methodist Church in Avondale.
Dearly beloved throughout the conference where he was
so well known - A man of the highest type. A statesman said of him
most truly, "A more gentle spirit never lived, a more generous hand
never gave, a more honest hear never lived."
Annie married Falkner (Faulkner). Was in the great
California earthquake. She gave a list of her children. I wish I
had a list of all the children, but have only ours, Uncle Bob's Kirk
Faulkner, Paul Pellham Faulkner, Jerome K., Annette, Grace, William
William C. was only 3 months old at the time of the
great earthquake. Annie carried him in her arms 3 miles. They lost
I think Oliver's children were Bob, Walter, and Ollie. Joseph's
were Maud, Adela, Marshall and Richeson Calvin. Calvin never married.
The description of papa's father would do for him.
Notes added by Dan L. Philen
©1999 Dan L. Philen
- Thanks to Merrill Hill Mosher for supplying a copy of the original
Kirk Journal which remains in her family to this day.
- Robert married Joanna McIlwain and William married Margaret McIlwain,
not Kitchens as stated by W. Kirk.
- The Philen families and the Walkers both lived on Bear Creek,
in Wilcox County, Alabama.
- Bellimony is correctly spelled Ballymoney
- According to the book, "Scotch-Irish Migration to South
Carolina, 1772 (Rev. William Martin and his five Shiploads of Settlers)"
John Kirk's land grant of 100 acres is recorded in Platt Folder 1040;
11 Dec. 1772; in Colleton Co., on the northwest fork of Long Cane
Creek; bordering John Tynes, Andrew McAlaster, John Hunt, as vacant
land; surveyed 25 March 1773, probably in Abbeville County, S.C. The
warrants for the land were prepared on Dec. 11, but not issued, and
were held until the arrival of Rev. Martin. John Kirk declared himself
a "poor Protestant" unable to pay the 5 pounds filing fee for the land.
The land was thus, given free.
Since the land was assigned to John on 11 Dec. 1772, he probably arrived
on the ship, 'James and Mary' on October 22, 1772. Because
of smallpox on board the ship, they had to lay in quarantine off Sullivan's
Island for 6 weeks. This would put him ashore in the first week of
December. His land warrant was assigned on 11 Dec. The December
1, 1772 issue of the Council Journal (Charleston) notes the arrival
of immigrants from Ireland, and although no ship was mentioned, it
was the James and Mary by all acounts. All other Irish immigrants
having been accounted for at that time. The other ships arrived after
Dec. 11: The Pennsylvania Farmer on Dec. 19 - Belfast; the
Lord Dunluce (with Rev. Martin) on Dec. 20 - Larne; the Hopewell
on Dec. 22 - Belfast; and the Free Mason on Dec. 22 - Newry. The
James and Mary sailed from Larne on Aug. 25, 1772.
The information on the ships was taken from the book, Ulster
Immigration to Colonial America". It gives a good listing
of ships, ports of embarkation, and arrival.
- Personal correspondence with Joe Pierce