Note: 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 parenthesis.

Dan L. Philen

Notes in blue 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.

  1. James remained in Ireland; the other three came over to America in 1773.

  2. John Kirk went to Tennessee with a large family and lived and died near Murfreesboro.

  3. I have no knowledge of my Grandfather's bro. Robert, after he came to America.

  4. 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 (Grace Johnson), of Irish descent, was born in Lancaster District, South Carolina, 1769.

Grand father (Matthew) 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.

  1. Mary, the oldest married John Countryman and moved to Georgia. I know nothing else of them.

  2. 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.

  3. Rebecca, Grand father's third child married Henry Coffee. Do not know what became of them.

  4. (James )
  5. Robert married Miss Kitchen and moved to Pickens County Ala. He raised several children. His oldest Daughter Mary, Married Dr. R. N. Kirk, her cousin.

  6. Agnes the 6th child, married John Harper. I know nothing of them.

  7. Grace, the 7th child, married James M. Shaver, who at last accounts were still living in South Carolina

  8. 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 (Elizabeth) 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 side A.D.__. (October 8, 1800)

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 ___. (Died, circa 1835, in Bear Creek, Lower Peachtree, Alabama.) Grandmother Walker died ___.

They raised several children. The orders of their ages I am not sure that I can give correctly.

  1. 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.

  2. Uncle James Walker was much afflicted with Rheumatism. He never married.

  3. Aunt Elizabeth married John Walker (no kin) a good natured man, but lacked enterprise, energy and industry.

  4. Aunt Mary married Wesley Philen.

  5. Aunt Rhoda married William Walker, (no kin). The same may be said of him that I said of Jno. Walker his brother.

  6. Aunt ___ (Edna?) married James Walker (no kin) an indolent lazy man.

  7. Aunt Sarah married Levi McCurdy: a singular man - but an industrious hardworking man and raised his family well.

  8. Aunt Gruer married Mr. Tanner in Pacgagoula (sic) was doing well last heard from. (Grace Anna Walker married John Madison Tanner in Pascagoula, MS)

  9. Uncle John Walker married a widow (Susannah "Susan") Philen.

  10. Uncle Andrew Walker married Catharine (Amanda Elizabeth) Philen. He died___. (Died, 31 Jul 1858, in Wilcox Co., Alabama)

  11. 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___. (Died, Sep 1835, in Wilcox County, Alabama.)

They (James Johnston Kirk and Jane Walker) 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.

  1. 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___.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 world.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    "Calvin rest, thy warfare's o're
    Sleep the sleep that knows no waking."
    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.

  10. 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 first husband.

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 myself.

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

  1. 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 C.

William C. was only 3 months old at the time of the great earthquake. Annie carried him in her arms 3 miles. They lost everything.

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

  1. Thanks to Merrill Hill Mosher for supplying a copy of the original Kirk Journal which remains in her family to this day.

  2. Robert married Joanna McIlwain and William married Margaret McIlwain, not Kitchens as stated by W. Kirk.

  3. The Philen families and the Walkers both lived on Bear Creek, in Wilcox County, Alabama.

  4. Bellimony is correctly spelled Ballymoney

  5. 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.


1999 Dan L. Philen
Personal correspondence with Joe Pierce

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