Friday, September 4, 2020

The Ancestral Origins of the Kirk Family

I know we're supposed to love, value, and appreciate all of our forebearers equally, but let's be honest: genealogists have favorite ancestors, right? 

You know, the ancestor who you'd stay up into the wee hours researching even if it was just to turn up some paltry clue (Wahoo! He paid personal property taxes in 1823!). 

My favorite ancestor to research is my fifth great-grandfather Thomas Kirk.  

Once an impenetrable brick wall on my direct paternal line, I've learned that Thomas was likely born in Berkeley County, Virginia in 1778, migrated to Ohio shortly after it received statehood, and made a decent living as a farmer in Licking County until he was "accidentally killed" on December 3, 1846.

Genetic and paper trail genealogy now suggest that his Licking County neighbor, Mary (Kirk) Geiger, was his sister. Geiger family history firmly identifies her parents as Joseph and Sarah Kirk of Berkeley County. Accordingly, Joseph was likely Thomas' father, too.

Few records survive for Joseph Kirk. The earliest known record dates to April 9, 1773, when he leased a 100-acre farm in Berkeley County. He presumably raised a family in the area while subsisting off the land until his death in about 1784.

Where did Joseph Kirk come from? Was he my immigrant ancestor - the first Kirk in the American Colonies? What were the Kirks' ancestral origins?

I've spent a considerable amount of time meditating on these questions, sifting through the paper trail and boning up on genetic genealogy to surface answers. 

I recently made a film to benchmark my present understanding of the Kirks' ancestral origins and my next research steps. The purpose was to help my Kirk cousins understand the research to-date in a more compelling way.