Alice M. Dawson Kirk v Harrison Siddell Kirk
Public Face, Private Face, No Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1882
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)
"With each and all of his companions he lived a blameless, peaceful life, and did what he could to make them comfortable and happy." ("Montpelier Enterprise", 4 May 1899, p3). This genealogical detailing outlines the life of a "professor" who was married four times. With his pen he advocated certain positions on the moral questions of his time and won high prestige and renown. He had the courage of his convictions on anti-slavery and temperance issues. He was an entertaining storyteller and a lover of devotional songs. "Many beautiful shade trees in Montpelier, Pioneer, and neighboring villages will long stand as silent monuments to his memory."
Harrison Siddell Kirk, the eldest son of Elisha and Susannah Harrison Kirk, was born in Atwater Twp, Portage Co, OH, on 31 Oct 1833. As a teenager he came to Wms Co, OH with his parents in the fall of 1847 and began teaching school at the age of 18. His father Elisha, b. 7 Oct 1807, Harrison Co, OH, was a cabinet and coffin maker, learning his trade near Hanover, Columbiana Co, OH; the family settled on Sec 4 of Jefferson Twp and was enumerated there in the 1850 federal census, p20, as Elisha 43 OH, Susannah 40 OH, Mary 18 OH, Harrison 16 OH, Adaline 13 OH, Susannah 12 OH, Jefferson 10 OH, Marion 7 OH, Almira 4 OH, and Samantha 3/12 OH. Mother Susannah died on 17 Aug 1853 and was buried in the Lash Cemetery in Jefferson Twp.
Elisha married widow Mrs. Elizabeth McCracken Schaull on 2 Mar 1854, Wms Co (Marriages, V2 p141) and later added children Margaret, Edward, and Albert Kirk to his family along with Schaull stepchildren Lydia Jane, John D, and Rebecca. Elizabeth, b. 14 Aug 1824, Franklin Co, OH, was first married to Elias Schaull who died prior to 7 May 1854 (Wms Co, OH Probate #302). This large family was listed in the 1860 Jefferson Twp federal census, p174C, and later after moving was enumerated in the 1870 and 1880 Superior Twp census rolls. On 10 July 1885, Elias Kirk died of lung disease @ 77Y 9M 3D, Superior Twp, in his home one mile west of West Jefferson and was buried next to wife Susannah.
Harrison Kirk's first three wives all died in their 30's while Harrison passed away at 65. He consistently married younger women. He was the father of three daughters, two of whom outlived him, and one son who died in infancy. Harrison first married Minerva White on 26 Mar 1857, Wms Co (Marriages, V2 p177). The bride, b.c. 1836, OH, was the daughter of Charles and Matilda Cecil White. They became the parents of daughter Minda or Amanda Ann (1858 - 8 Feb 1872, Wms Co, OH Deaths V1 p11). The couple was enumerated in the 1860 Jefferson Twp federal census, p171B. About five years later on 23 Sept 1865 Minerva died @30Y and Minda went to live with her White grandparents.
Harrison's second marriage was to Sarah E. Clifton, b.c.1844 NJ, the daughter of John and Sarah Clifton. They tied the knot on 14 Sept 1866, Wms Co (Marriages, V3 p598). Sarah was a teacher like her husband and eventually they became parents to another daughter, Daisy Maud (1869 - 22 Dec 1909; m. William B. Wallace, 25 Nov 1888, Wms Co [Marriages, V5 #1367]). This family was enumerated in the 1870 Jefferson Twp federal census, p15. In the 1870's Harrison served briefly as the county coroner and continued his teaching vocation. Six years later Sarah died on 10 Nov 1876 @32Y.
For Harrison's next trip down the aisle he chose young Alice M. Dawson, b. 30 Aug 1858, Defiance Co, OH, possibly daughter of Ephraim and Adelia A. Dawson. Alice became the third Mrs. Kirk on 2 June 1877, Wms Co (Marriages, V4 p520). Alice was the mother of a son who died in infancy and a daughter, Emma E. (8 Sept 1879, Madison Twp - 1978; m. George W. Lambright, 27 May 1899, Wms Co [Marriages, V8 p32]). The Kirks were enumerated in the 1880 Madison Twp federal census, p479D, as Harrison 46 OH brickmaker, Alice 21 OH, Daisy M. 11 OH, and Emma 8/12 OH.
Alice Kirk petitioned the Williams County, OH Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 11 p459 - June 1882; Roll 38 case number 1007 - 24 April 1884) requesting a divorce from Harrison. She stated that while she was pregnant on 7 July 1879 Harrison was extremely cruel and beat her. On 28 Nov 1881 she suffered the same treatment and on 18 Apr 1882 Harrison held her down while her stepdaughter Daisy Maud beat her. She told the court she was left with no food or clothing; Harrison owned 68 acres of real estate valued at $3500 which Alice felt should be taken into account to allow her a reasonable alimony settlement. Whether the court did not believe her or Harrison talked his way out of these accusations, one can’t say from the record, but in any event the court dismissed Alice's request and no divorce was granted.
The Kirks stayed married until Alice's death on 2 Mar 1893 @34Y 7M 2D in Wms Co (Deaths, V3 p71) and her obituary ("Montpelier Enterprise", 16 Mar 1893, p4) stated "her suffering was endured with great cheerfulness, patience, and fortitude." She hoped to see her little boy in heaven. Alice was a member of the United Brethren Radical Church since she was 14. She was described as "a meek and gentle spirit." One wonders what sufferings she endured and whether she was treated well by her Kirk relations. Alice was buried in an unmarked grave in Cogswell Cemetery, Bridgewater Twp, Wms Co, OH.
HS married a fourth time on 11 Nov 1894, Wms Co (Marriages V6 #1279). The bride was Mrs. Lucy Campbell. From April 1895 - May 1897 Harrison made a living selling and planting shade trees in the area, many of which were found in local cemeteries. Harrison died in Bridgewater Twp on 24 Apr 1899 @65Y 5M 23D of congestive chills and was buried in Cogswell Cemetery, also without a marker. He wrote a will on 18 Oct 1898 (Wms Co Probate, #4019) in which he granted daughter Daisy Maud "my south lot, purchased from Thomas and Job Hodson"; widow Lucy received the house in Pioneer and after her death this would become the property of daughter Emma, Alice's daughter. John M. Donley was named his estate administrator and being in debt some of Harrison's property had to be sold to satisfy creditors. From the 1900 Pioneer, Madison Twp federal census p107, widow Lucy was 57, born Oct 1843 OH, the mother of two with neither child living; she died in Wms Co and her estate was probated on 30 Apr 1902 (Probate #4343); nothing further is known about her.