Saturday, September 6, 2014

52 Ancestors: #35, Chester F. Kirk, Part 5: Father and Grandfather

Chester F. Kirk, 1925
This is the fifth and final (I promise!) installment of "another story or four five" about my paternal grandfather, Chester F. Kirk. This one continues the story of Chester with his fifth and last wife, and his eighth and ninth children – the last of whom became my father.

At the end of Part 4: Veterinarian and Horse Racer, it was 1917. Over the past decade and a half, Chester had built a thriving veterinary practice and gained quite a reputation among the horse "driving" set; his wife had created her own reputation as a professional dressmaker and seamstress.

About 1912-13, they apparently sold the house at 27 Elm Street (where they had lived since at least 1908)1 to Chester's daughter Hazel and her husband John Clark, and moved to 125 Wood Street; another move followed around 1916-17, to 139 College Street.2 All three houses were mere blocks apart. Kenneth and his wife had also lived in the same neighborhood until around 1916,3 when they had moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut.4

By this time, Chester was pushing 60, and thanks to Hazel's burgeoning family, was already a grandfather five times over. But Kenneth and Anna remained childless; Leonard had changed his name to Schubert; and with Mary nearly 35 and having no living children, it didn't look as if there would be anyone to carry on the Kirk name.

That was about to change.

On 18 March 1917, Chester's eighth child and second daughter was born.5 The eight-pound bouncing baby thrived, and was named Geneva Alice. Mary kept her little girl close; she was 20 months old before she spent a day away from her mother, on 7 November 1918. The reason for that brief parting: Chester and Mary were in the process of moving to the new home they had bought at 30 Ware Street.6,7 The likely impetus for this final move – they would spend the rest of their lives in that spacious and stately house – was the fact that Mary was once again pregnant.

Geneva Kirk birth, 1917     Roger Kirk birth, 1919
And this time, Chester got the heir who would carry on his family name. On 11 May 1919, his ninth child was born in the new family home, and named Roger Marchant.8 Now almost 62, Chester Kirk had two children who were younger than his five grandchildren.

Chester Kirk with his two youngest children, Roger and Geneva,
on the front steps of their home at 30 Ware Street, Lewiston, ca 19209
Despite his advancing age, Chester continued to practice as a veterinary surgeon. Around 1920, he finally closed the Canal Street office and moved the practice to his Ware Street home.10 Close inspection of the photo above reveals his business placard just below the living room's front window:

Enlarged detail of Chester's business sign under the front window

Lewiston Evening Journal, 19 Dec 1929
I suspect that his practice began to slow down considerably and shift away from large animals (many years later, Roger's memories of his father included the spaying a good many cats). Still, twenty years after he had to put a horse "out of its suffering" following its collision with a street car in 1909,11 Chester was still being called to minister to the victims of equine collisions (albeit now with automobiles). But by then he appears to have given up on shooting fatally stricken animals himself: at least in the case of a horse that was run down by a Chevy sedan on College Street in front of Bates College's Rand Hall, when "Dr. Kirk, called on the scene, stated that it would have to be killed ... [the] police were called and ... administered the coup de grace."12

He still kept horses himself, and his penchant for ice-racing apparently continued unabated. In addition to the "Androscoggin speedway," he frequented other ice tracks in the surrounding towns, including Range Pond in Poland and the Little Androscoggin River in Mechanic Falls. At the February 1919 Poland Ice Carnival, "Dr. Kirk of Lewiston came near getting away with the Class A match and pulled in second best with Mary A. Patch."13 On the "last day of Poland racing" in March 1923, "Ella Watts, Lewiston horse with Dr. Kirk driving, and Frank C. of the Harrison club with Murch up, furnished the fireworks of the day."14 In February 1924, "Several classes were raced at the [Poland Driving] club speedway Saturday, along with exhibitions by two of Dr. Kirk's horses, Dewey and Fascinate."15 And in January 1927, "Dr. Kirk from Lewiston... [is] entered for Saturday" in the Mechanic Falls Riding Club matches.16

There are even indications that the memory of Chester's runaway horse mowing down part of the park fence in 1906 lingered on in the community.17 When his son Kenneth was cited in 1928 for speeding down Main Street hill in his touring car, the initial newspaper reports attributed the "speedway stunt" to Chester!18 That a reporter might confuse the locally well-known father and son in such a way implies that both might have similar – and similarly well-known – driving habits.

Roger would be Chester and Mary's last child, and Chester would never know the grandchildren from his final marriage: the first of them would not be born until 1947, and Chester died on 13 July 1939. Two days later he was buried in the family plot at Mt. Auburn cemetery in Auburn, Maine, with three of his grandsons and his own last-born son as pallbearers.19

Obituary and death notice for Chester F. Kirk     Funeral notice for Chester F. Kirk

Kirk family monument, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Auburn, Maine17
So ends the story of my multi-faceted, often-married grandfather. I originally conceived this as a three-part series, then decided it would take four, and finally gave in to five. That's probably not too much for a man who had six wives/relationships, nine children, and two careers, over nearly 82 years. I'm just sorry I never knew my grandfather.

Wives and children of Chester Kirk:
  • Ellen Hitchcock (m. 1880, divorced bef 1886)
    • No children
  • Lottie Martin (m. 1886, died 1890)
  1. Hazel May Kirk (1887-1962), married John Clark
  2. Kenneth Allen Kirk (1889-1937), married 1) Anna Slauenwhite, 2) Florence Lawrence
  • Hattie Schubert (m. 1891, divorced bef 1894)
    1. Leonard Irving Kirk AKA Leonard Schubert (1892-1968), married Rose V. ______
  • Nellie Crosman (not married)
    1. Chester L. Kirk (1893-????)
  • Cora Grover (m. 1894, divorced 1896)
    1. Vinal C. Kirk (1895-1896)
  • Mary Hodsdon (m. ca 1901?)
  1. Stillborn (male) Kirk (1902)
  2. Cecil Mortimer Kirk (1903-1905)
  3. Geneva Alice Kirk (1917-2007), never married
  4. Roger Marchant Kirk (1919-1979), married Kathleen Murphy (my parents)
Links to the earlier posts in the Chester F. Kirk sequence:
#31, Chester F. Kirk, Part 1: From Maine to Bristol
#32, Chester F. Kirk, Part 2: Clockmaker
#33, Chester F. Kirk, Part 3: Veterinary Surgeon
#34, Chester F. Kirk, Part 4: Veterinarian and Horse Racer

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

Unless otherwise specified, all newspaper articles were accessed as digital images in the Google News Archive (, mostly during August 2014.
  1. "Lewiston, Androscoggin County, Maine, Directory, 1908," database, ( : accessed 1 Sep 2014), entries for "Charles" F. Kirk, veterinary surgeon, "Kirk, Mrs. Mary," and Kenneth Kirk, all at 27 Elm.
  2. [Years] Resident and Business Directory of Androscoggin County, Maine (Auburn, Maine: Merrill & Webber Co., 1910-1920), entries for Chester F. Kirk, 27 Elm, p. 440 (1910-1911), 27 Elm, p. 507 (1912-1913), 125 Wood, p. 531 (1914-1915), 125 Wood, p. 538 (1916-1917), 139 College, p. 548 (1918-1919); database and digital images, "Maine City Directories," ( : accessed 30 Aug 2014), under "Lewiston". Also, entries for John H. Clark, 38 Bates, p. 386 (1912-1913), 27 Elm, p. 403 (1914-1915).
  3. [Years] Resident and Business Directory of Androscoggin County, Maine, entries for Kenneth Kirk, 141 Holland, p. 531 (1914-1915), p. 538 (1916-1917); no entry for Kenneth Kirk, p. 548 (1918-1919).
  4. Bridgeport City Directory including Stratford, Fairfield and Southport, 1917 (Bridgeport, Conn.: Price & Lee Co., 1917), p. 656, entry for Kenneth Kirk; database and digital images, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," ( : accessed 27 Oct 2012).
  5. “Maine, Birth Records, 1621-1922,” database and digital images, ( : accessed 19 Aug 2014), [Geneva] Kirk birth, 18 Mar 1917.
  6. A Record of Our Baby's Life (New York: Dodge Publishing Co., 1912), baby book for Geneva Alice Kirk, Kirk-Murphy Family Collection; privately held by the author, Virginia Beach, Virginia. The entries in this unpaginated baby book, in Mary (Hodsdon) Kirk's handwriting, are in varying inks, and appear to be mostly contemporary with the events recorded. An entry on p. 13, under the printed heading "Notes," reads "First day spent away from mother, Nov 7, 1918, at Mrs Warrens, while moving to Ware St."
  7. 1920-1921 Resident and Business Directory of Androscoggin County, Maine, p. 538, entry for Chester F. Kirk, 30 Ware.
  8. Ibid., Roger Marchant Kirk birth, 1919.
  9. Photo of Chester, Roger, and Geneva Kirk, on the front steps of their home at 30 Ware Street, Lewiston, ca 1920, Kirk-Murphy Family Collection.
  10. 1920-1921 Resident and Business Directory of Androscoggin County, Maine, p. 1090, County Business Directory, Veterinary Surgeons, Lewiston, entry for Kirk C.F., 9 Canal; database and digital images, "Maine City Directories," ( : accessed 30 Aug 2014), Androscoggin County > 1920 > City Information > image 116 of 152. Also, 1922-1923 Directory of Androscoggin County, Maine (Portland, Maine: Portland Directory Co., 1922), p. 1103, County Business Directory, Veterinary Surgeons, Lewiston, entry for Kirk C.F., 30 Ware; database and digital images, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," ( : accessed 30 Aug 2014), Maine > Auburn > 1922 > Auburn, Maine, City Directory, 1922 > image 569 of 639.
  11. "Hack Horses Killed," Lewiston Daily Sun, 12 Nov 1909, p. 8.
  12. "Kills Horse After Automobile Smash," Lewiston Evening Journal, 19 Dec 1929, p. 14. It's probably not surprising that Dr. Kirk would have been the vet on the spot, since Rand Hall is all of three blocks from the Kirk home on Ware Street. He was without a doubt the vet nearest to the action.
  13. "Speedy Races Feature of the Poland Ice Carnival," Lewiston Evening Journal, 22 Feb 1919, p. 6.
  14. "Four Events at Last Day of Poland Racing," Lewiston Daily Sun, 1 Mar 1923, p. 6.
  15. "Horsemen Waiting for Poland Carnival," Lewiston Daily Sun, 11 Feb 1924, p. 6.
  16. "McFalls Ice Racing: Riding Club Has Six Close Matches Lined Up for Saturday Matinee," Lewiston Daily Sun, 21 Jan 1927, p. 9.
  17. Geneva Kirk, "Brief History of the L-A Chamber of Commerce," Lewiston Daily Sun, 31 Mar 1987, p. 20.
  18. "Kirk Repeats Speedway Stunt on Public Street," Lewiston Daily Sun, 20 July 1928, p. 1; also, "A Line on the World" local column, p. 4, item reading "Chester Kirk again uses principal street as speedway." The identity of the perpetrator was corrected in the following day's Sun, in "Kirk Speeding Case Goes To Fire Dept. Officials," p. 1. After serving in the army during World War I, Kenneth had returned to Lewiston, where he served as the Superintendent of Fire Alarms for the Lewiston Fire Department for many years. But that's another story...
  19. "Dr. Chester F. Kirk," obituary and death notice, Lewiston Daily Sun, 14 Jul 1939, p. 20. Also, Lewiston Daily Sun, 17 Jul 1939, p. 12, funeral notice for Dr. Chester F. Kirk in "Lewiston and Auburn" column. Both accessed 2 Jun 2012.
  20. Mount Auburn Cemetery (Auburn, Androscoggin County, Maine), Kirk family monument, read and photographed by the author, 13 Aug 2012.

1 comment:

King of Rochester said...

I found the maiden name of Leonard's wife in this database:

I knew your brother Marshall Kirk.