Friday, August 15, 2014

52 Ancestors: #33, Chester F. Kirk, Part 3: Veterinary Surgeon

Chester F. Kirk, date unknown
This is the third of "another story or four" about my paternal grandfather, Chester F. Kirk. This one is about Chester's third and fourth wives, an apparent extramarital liaison, and his third, fourth, and fifth children.

Leonard Irving Kirk birth, 1892
At the end of Part 2: Clockmaker, Chester was leaving behind his life as a clockmaker. The 1893 Bristol city directory noted only that he had "removed to Maine," presumably sometime since the 1891 directory had been published.1 In fact, it had to have been before September 1892 that he took his children, Hazel and Kenneth, and his third wife, Hattie Schubert, north to his home state and settled in Auburn, Maine.

On 7 September 1892, Hattie gave birth to her only child with Chester, a son they named Leonard Irving Kirk. Chester's residence, and Leonard's place of birth, was Auburn. Just how long before that date they moved to Auburn is unknown, but I speculate that it was at least some months, and maybe as much as a year, earlier. For one thing, it seems unlikely they would have moved late in Hattie's pregnancy. For another, Chester had apparently been in Auburn long enough to set himself up in the new, and rather unlikely (for a former mechanic and clockmaker), occupation of veterinary surgeon.2

The next few years seem to have been, um, rather active ones for Chester – and not just in the context of his new profession.

Chester L. Kirk birth, 1893
On 17 December 1893, in Newcastle, Maine, one Nellie Crosman of Durham, Maine, gave birth to a son who was named Chester L. Kirk. His father: Chester Kirk, a "vetinary" surgeon, born in Warren and now supposedly a resident of Newcastle.3 There is no record of any marriage between Chester and Nellie, and no other records placing Chester in Newcastle (as near as I can tell, he was still living in Auburn); I imagine that since she had the baby in Newcastle (and I haven't yet figured out what she was doing there), she simply gave that as his residence.
What Happened to Nellie and Chester?
After this birth registration, both Nellie Crosman and Chester L. Kirk appear to have dropped off the face of the earth: No death records, no census records, no plausible Chester of any surname, born in Maine in 1893 with a mother named Nellie, have been found. However, after a great deal of sleuthing, I believe I have discovered what happened to Nellie and to my half great-uncle Chester... but that's another story.4
It was no doubt around this time that Chester's marriage to Hattie dissolved. While I have found no record of their divorce, I assume it must have occurred, because on 13 June 1894 he married Cora A. Grover of Waldoboro, Maine. He gave his residence as Auburn (although curiously, he did not appear in the 1893 Lewiston-Auburn city directory) and his occupation as veterinary surgeon – both of which were undoubtedly true – but other aspects of the marriage record stretched the truth quite a bit. For one thing, he claimed to be 35, when he was actually nearly 37 (probably to make his marriage to a 19-year-old slightly more palatable). Moreover, he claimed that this fourth marriage was actually his second, failing to state whether he was widowed or divorced (he was, of course, both).5

Marriage of Chester Kirk and Cora Grover, 1894
What Happened to Hattie and Leonard?
Unlike Nellie and Chester L., Hattie and Leonard were easy to trace. They returned to Bristol, Connecticut, where, around 1896, Hattie married Charles R. Goodenough, a brass manufacturer (whose family was once next door neighbors to the Schuberts) nearly as old as Chester. They had two children, Olive and Lester, before Charles's death in 1904. In 1910 she remarried, to Harry H. Cook. Hattie died in 1923 and is buried in Center Cemetery, Norfolk, Connecticut. Leonard was apparently adopted by his grandfather, Theodore Schubert, and took Schubert as his surname; he became an electrician. He married Rose V. _____ about 1927; they had one child, Richard. Leonard died in 1968.6
Once again, I have to wonder why a 19-year-old girl would marry a man twice her age, but once again it doesn't seem to have been a case of necessity. It was over ten months later, on 24 April 1895, that Cora had their first and only child, a son named Vinal. From the birth record it appears that Chester had relocated to Waldoboro, though other discrepancies make me wonder if he was actually around when Vinal was born: most notably, the father's name is recorded as "Charles A. Kirk" (which could be a transcription error – I haven't seen the original town register), and his birthplace as Lewiston.7
Vinal Kirk birth, 1895     Vinal Kirk death, 1896
Sadly, the baby survived less than year, dying of tuberculosis on 21 January 1896. On the death record Chester's name at least is correct, but his birthplace and occupation are blank, another indication that he may not have been present.8 In any event, Cora filed for a divorce, which was granted 24 December 1896, and Chester's fourth marriage came to an end after only two and a half years.9 This is the last sign of Chester until the 1900 census, when he surfaces in Andover, Maine.
What Happened to Cora?
Cora Grover remarried in April 1898, to a Thomaston sailor named William E. Dunbar. This evidently was a matter of necessity, as their daughter Gladys was born in August of that year. On 1 October of the following year, Cora died from puerperal septicemia.10
One more question that comes to mind is, where were Hazel and Kenneth throughout their father's shenanigans? Well, it's possible they were with Chester and Hattie, at least until their marriage broke up, but I think it more likely that Chester had parked them with his parents in Freeport, where they were enumerated in Silas and Sarah's household in 1900.11 (Indeed, that may have been one reason Chester returned to Maine in the first place.)

1900 U.S. census, Freeport, Cumberland County, Maine, Silas Kirk household

To be continued in Chester F. Kirk, Part 4: Grandfather.

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

  1. 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).
  2. “Maine, Birth Records, 1621-1922,” database and digital images, ( : accessed 5 Aug 2014), Leonard Irving Kirk, 1892. To the best of my knowledge, Chester had no significant training for his new profession, which he nonetheless practiced, apparently quite successfully, well into the 1930s.
  3. “Maine Vital Records, 1892-1922,” database and digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 May 2014), Chester L. Kirk birth, 1893.
  4. And another post toward my 52 Ancestors total...
  5. “Maine Vital Records, 1892-1922,” database and digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 Dec 2012), Chester Kirk-Cora Grover marriage, 1894.
  6. As with my "What Happened to Ellen?" sidebar in my previous post, I'm not going to try to cite sources for this paragraph. It's all available on Ancestry and/or FamilySearch. Interestingly, Leonard pursued the same profession as his half-brother Kenneth, who he may never even have known. In fact, both were working as electricians in Connecticut – Leonard in Bristol, Kenneth in Bridgeport – when they each registered for the draft in 1917.
  7. “Maine Vital Records, 1892-1922,” database and digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 Aug 2014), _____ [Vinal] Kirk birth, 24 Apr 1895.
  8. “Maine Vital Records, 1892-1922,” database and digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 Aug 2014), Vinal C. Kirk death, 1896.
  9. "Maine Divorces, 1799-1903," database, Maine Genealogy ( : accessed 9 May 2014), entry for Cora Kirke & Chester A. Kirke, 24 Dec 1896, citing Maine Divorce Index, Maine State Archives.
  10. See footnote number 6 (the first two sentences, that is).
  11. 1900 U.S. Census, Cumberland County, Maine, Freeport, ED 42, sheet 12-A, dwelling 261, family 281, Silas Kirk household; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 Dec 2010).

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