Friday, August 8, 2014

52 Ancestors: #32, Chester F. Kirk, Part 2: Clockmaker

Chester F. Kirk, date unknown1
This is the second of "another story or four" about my paternal grandfather, Chester F. Kirk. This one is about Chester's second and third wives, and his first two children.

At the end of Part 1: From Maine to Bristol, Chester had left the Hitchcock paper box shop for E. Ingraham's clock factory, and no longer lived with or near his in-laws, leading me to believe that he and Ellen had separated or divorced. And, I said, subsequent events  – which probably had their genesis right at the Hitchcock paper box shop – appear to bear this out.

Back in the 1880 census, four pages away from the Hitchcocks but also on Divinity Street, was the household of Jane Martin. Two of her daughters, Mary E. Martin and Hattie (Martin) Moore, worked in a "box shop," which was almost certainly Hitchcock's.2
1880 U.S. census, Bristol, Hatford County, Connecticut, Jane Martin household
 No doubt it was through one of those daughters that Chester met another Martin sister, Charlotte ("Lottie").3 Evidently they became quite well acquainted: on 2 Jul 1886, he married Lottie Martin,4 and six months later, on 9 Jan 1887, Hazel Mae Kirk was born.5
What Happened to Ellen?
Ellen, for her part, also remarried in 1886, to a Scottish minister, the Rev. Samuel Graham Neil. They had one child, a daughter Amna, born in 1888. I haven't discovered where they lived from 1886 to 1902, when they were in Bristol, apparently briefly, before removing permanently to Philadelphia. The Reverend Neil died of influenza and pneumonia in 1932 while on a visit to Scotland. His body was returned to the U.S., where he was buried in the West Cemetery in Bristol in Benajah Hitchcock's plot. I expect Ellen is probably buried there as well; she was still living in Philadelphia in 1940, and the cemetery inscriptions were compiled in 1934.6
Chester remained at Ingraham for the remainder of his residence in Bristol.7 The E. Ingraham Co. had been manufacturing clocks in Bristol since 1840, and was famous for intricately decorated cabinet clocks and "visible pendulum spring clocks" with eight-day striking movements, such as these examples from an 1897-98 Ingraham catalog.8

Typical Ingraham cabinet clock
     Typical Ingraham visible pendulum spring clock
Pendulum clock built by Chester Kirk, ca 1890
I remember staying overnight at my grandmother's house and listening, late at night, to the striking of the pendulum clock that graced her dining room – a clock made by my grandfather during his time at Ingraham. Though much more rudimentary in design than a typical Ingraham clock and with little ornamentation, it's easy to see the "family resemblance."9

West Cemetery (Bristol, Conn.), Lottie A. Kirk gravestone
After Hazel, Chester and Lottie had one more child, on 24 November 1889: a son, Kenneth Allen Kirk.10 Chester's second marriage lasted no longer than his first, but for a very different reason: just a year after Kenneth's birth, Lottie died on 25 November 1890, at the age of 33.11 She is buried in West Cemetery in Bristol (or Plainville).12

Perhaps it's not surprising that Chester, left suddenly with a one-year-old and a not-quite-four-year-old, remarried rather quickly. On their 2 Jul 1891 wedding day, his third wife was a couple of months shy of 18 – just about half Chester's age.13 Hattie Schubert was the daughter of Theodore Schubert, a German immigrant clockmaker employed at Ingraham.14 It's hard to say why this girl would marry a man twice her age, taking on two small children in the bargain. On the face of it, the marriage doesn't appear to be a matter of necessity; their only child would not be born for over a year. Possibly Hattie was pregnant, but miscarried after the marriage. One more thing I will never know.

What I do know is that before September 1892, Chester and Hattie pulled up roots and moved,15 with Hazel and Kenneth, to Auburn, Maine, where Chester began a new career as – of all things – a veterinarian.
Entry for Chester Kirk, 1893 Bristol city directory: "rem[oved] to Maine"
To be continued in Chester F. Kirk, Part 3: Veterinary Surgeon.

(Note: This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge at No Story Too Small.)

  1. Photo of Chester F. Kirk, date unknown; Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Chester's daughter Geneva Kirk probably gave this tiny photo to her nephew Marshall Kirk, from whom the author inherited it in 2005.
  2. 1880 U.S. Census, Hartford County, Connecticut, Bristol, ED 25, p. 26, dwelling 225, family 290, Jane Martin household; digital images, ( : accessed 31 Aug 2012). Lottie is not enumerated in this household and I have been unable to find her elsewhere.
  3. 1870 U.S. Census, Litchfield County, Connecticut, New Hartford, p. 72, dwelling 517, family 549, Harvey Martin household; digital images, ( : accessed 31 Aug 2012). Jane, all the children from the 1880 census, and Lottie, are in the 1870 household, thus tying Lottie to this family. It was most likely Hattie, who maintained contact with and visited Chester and her niece and nephew in Maine in later years, who introduced him to Lottie.
  4. Greenleaf Cilley and Jonathan P. Cilley, The Mount Desert Widow: Genealogy of the Maine Gamble Family (Rockland, Maine: Knox County Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 1895), p. 170; digital images, Internet Archive ( : accessed 5 Mar 2012).
  5. Ibid. Also, Certificate of Death for Hazel Mae Clark, 11-10-1962, State of Maine Department of Health and Welfare, undated photocopy of typed certificate stamped "NOT FOR LEGAL PURPOSES", Kirk-Murphy Family Collection, privately held by the author, Virginia Beach, Virginia. 
  6. I'm not going to try to list all the sources for this paragraph. Suffice it to say that I did turn up documentation on 18-20 Jul 2014, which I will be happy to relate to anyone who might be interested. I'm pretty sure, by the way, that "Amna" really is the daughter's name; at first I thought it was a typo for "Anna" but then found other instances that definitely have an "m" in them.
  7. Bristol, Plainville and Terryville Directory for [year] (New Haven, Conn.: Price, Lee & Co., 1888-1891), entries for Chester Kirk (1888; 1890-91; 1891); database and digital images, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," ( : accessed 3 Sep 2012).
  8. Clocks Manufactured by the E. Ingraham Company, Catalogue 29, 1897-98 (Bristol, Conn.: E. Ingraham Co., 1897), p. 52, Bazar, p. 62, Lily; digital images, Internet Archive ( : downloaded 9 May 2014).
  9. Chester Kirk pendulum clock, ca 1890, privately held by the author, Virginia Beach, Virginia; photographed by the author, 2004. The clock passed from Chester's last wife, Mary (Hodsdon) Kirk, to their daughter Geneva Kirk, who passed it on to the author sometime in the 1980s. It is not an "official" Ingraham clock; that is, it does not bear the Ingraham name. I speculate that employees may have been free to use the facilities to build their own clocks during their off hours. Though this clock now graces my living room, it – alas – no longer runs or strikes; the mechanism is simply worn out. 
  10. Cilley and Cilley, p. 170. Also, "United States, World War One Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Apr 2012), Fairfield County, Connecticut, 5 Jun 1917, No. 786, for Kenneth Allen Kirk.
  11. Bristol, Plainville and Terryville Directory 1891 (New Haven, Conn.: Price, Lee & Co., 1891), p. 6, List of Deaths in Bristol, entry for "Kirk Lottie A., Nov. 25, '90 [age] 33".
  12. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 27 Sep 2012), memorial #46891025 for Lottie A Kirk, with photo of marker, citing West Cemetery (Plainville, Hartford County, Connecticut), plot 14, memorial and digital photo by C Greer (19 Jan 2010). The last two digits of year are illegible in the photo; the memorial gives the date of death as Nov. 29 [sic], 1889.
  13. Bristol, Connecticut, Registrar of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, marriage license with clergyman's certification, #292, Chester F. Kirk and Hattie B. Shubert, 1891; certified (embossed) photocopy issued 14 May 1993.
  14. Bristol, Plainville and Terryville Directory 1891, p. 66, entry for Theodore Schubert. 
  15. Bristol, Plainville and Terryville Directory 1893 (New Haven, Conn.: The Price & Lee Co., 1893), p. 66, entry for Chester Kirk, "rem[oved] to Maine"; database and digital images, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," ( : accessed 3 Sep 2012). The September 1892 date and the destination of Auburn will be documented in the next installment. 

1 comment:

King of Rochester said...

I was a colleague and friend of Marshall Kirk and I did a lot of PEI work for him. I had a eulogy read by David Lambert at his service. I remember he did an extensive job on an interracial mixed family he was descended from, but was afraid to publish due to blowback from the family. I wonder what became of that research. Mike Meggison, Penfield NY