John William Kirk is a farmer residing in Knoxville township and in addition to his interests here has a section
of land in Saskatchewan, Canada, which he has owned since 1894. He is one of the represeutative citizens of his
township and is highly esteemed by those who have come in contact with him. He has lived in this county for the
greater part of his life and is a native son thereof, his birth occurring in August, 1865, some four miles southwest
of Knoxville, on what is known as the old Curtis farm.
His parents were Benjamin S. and Mary E. (Kelley) Kirk, both of whom are now deceased. The former was born on the
13th of November, 1838, in Columbiana county, Ohio, of Quaker parentage. His father, William Kirk, was born on
the i4th of November, 1779, and his mother, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Gilbert, was born on the 5th
of July, 1790. Mr. and Mrs. William Kirk removed to Columbiana county, Ohio, from the Keystone state and the former
died there on the 31st of October, 1860. His widow died on the 5th of March, 1873, at Oskaloosa, Iowa. He was a
horseman and in the early days conducted a stage route. He was an officer in the Quaker church and in his daily
life exemplified his sincere faith. The records of the time of the Revolution show that members of the family fought
in that conflict with the mother country.
Benjamin S. Kirk was reared in Columbiana county, Ohio, but in 1864 came to Marion county and in the fall of that
year was married to Miss Mary E. Kelley. About 1870 or 1871 he purchased a farm in Washington township, which remained
his home until the fall of 1904, when he removed to Knoxville and resided there until his death on the 12th of
April, 1912. For many years he engaged in teaching school and was noted in his locality as an unusually fine penman.
He was also a farmer and stock raiser and his efforts along those lines met with gratifying success. For more than
three years during the Civil war he served in the Eleventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which was the first three year
regiment to leave the Buckeye state. He was a republican and served in various offices, being quite prominent in
local political circles. Through his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic he kept in touch with the other
veterans of the Civil war in his county and found this association a very pleasant one. He was also a member of
the Methodist Episcopal church, as was his wife, and both were held in high esteem by those who knew them. Mrs.
Kirk was also a native of Columbiana county, born March 16, 1840, and a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Brubaker)
Kelley, who in the fall of 1862 brought their family to this county. Her father was a railroad contractor in his
younger days but after his arrival here turned his attention to agricultural pursuits and entered land from the
government in Knoxville township, which is known as the W. A. Kelley farm, although it is now owned by a grandson,
John Kelley. The father of Mrs. Kirk died in March, 1892, and her mother passed away on the 1st of January, 1887.
Mrs. Kirk lived more than the span of life allotted to mankind by the Psalmist, as she was seventy two years of
age when her death occurred on the 24th of January, 1913: She was the mother of three children: John William, of
this review; Lora Anna, who married B. D. Marsh, of Indianola, this state; and Edith, who died at the age of two
John W. Kirk was reared in Washington township, this county, upon the old homestead on section 5, and attended
the public schools of the neighborhood. As a boy and youth a great deal of his time was given to assisting with
the work of the farm and in this way he gained practical training that has been of inestimable value to him, so
that by the time he was grown he was an experienced agriculturist and was well qualified to operate a farm on his
own account. In 1892 he was married and began farming independently in Washington township, where he met with gratifying
success in his agricultural operations. In 1907 he removed to Saskatchewan, Canada, and purchased six hundred and
forty acres of land, remaining there for about five years and then returning to this county. He built his present
fine home upon the farm near Knoxville, in Knoxville township, and there he and his wife now reside. Mr. Kirk has
leased his Canada land and it returns to him a good annual income. He is carrying on general farming upon his farm
in this county but makes a specialty of breeding Duroc Jersey hogs and finds this branch of his activities a very
remunerative one. In all that he does he is progressive and energetic, and his financial success is the natural
result of his industry and good management.
On the 13th of September, 1892, Mr. Kirk was united in marriage with Miss Lewessa C. Lakin, who was born near Oskaloosa,
Iowa, on the 13th of May, 1868, a daughter of Everton T. and Elizabeth P. (Bernard) Lakin. Her father was born
in 1838 and in his youth removed from Guernsey county, Ohio, to Iowa. He was married in Monroe, this state, and
subsequently settled near Oskaloosa. For a number of years he taught school and was known throughout his locality
for his fine penmanship. He died on the 9th of November, 1911, in Saskatchewan, Canada, where he had lived for
some time. He served for four years in the Civil war, being a member of an Ohio regiment. His wife was born in
1844 and died on the 26th of June, 1900. Both were members of the Methodist church. They were the parents of four
daughters, as follows: Mrs. John W. Kirk; Jessie, who became the wife of P. H. McEwen and died on the 19th of April,
1906, at Oskaloosa; Stella, who married H. A. Good and passed away in Minnesota on the 19th of July, 1910; and
Stella, the wife of W. L. Wyman, of Park Rapids, Minnesota. Mrs. Kirk was reared in the vicinity of Oskaloosa and
in that city and attended a business college there. She taught school for several terms, including ten months as
shorthand instructor in a business college. To Mr. and Mrs. Kirk ten children were born: Mabel, the wife of V.
A. Merriman, of Knoxville township; Howard, Warren, Esther, Jessie, Ruth and Alice, at home; Ernest, deceased;
and Edna and Willis, at home. Three of the children are attending the Knoxville high school.
Mr. Kirk is a republican, as he believes that the policies of that party are best calculated to secure the prosperity
of the country. Both he and his wife belong to the Methodist Episcopal church and their support can be depended
upon in all movements seeking the moral welfare of the community. Fraternally he is a member of the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America, and both he and his wife belong to the Rebekahs of Knoxville.
He has thoroughly identified himself with the interests of the county and believes that the opportunities here
offered are unusually great and that energy and good judgment will enable a man to win financial success. He has
not only won material prosperity but has also gained the unqualified esteem of his fellow citizens and the warm
regard of many friends.
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Marion County, IA
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