Kirk GenealogyMany of Dr. James Kirk's direct descendants still live in the Bluffton area and have contributed many original Kirk artifacts to our museum collection.
The Kirk Family history below and the genealogy charts that are linked at the bottom of the page have been paintstakingly compiled and cross referenced from many sources, including letters, papers and correspondence from direct descendants of James Brown Kirk and Dr. John & Caroline Kirk as well as tombstones, archives of museums and books. The charts were completed and are being posted as of May 28, 2007, updated as of March 13, 2013.
If you have additional information and/or corrections to any of this information, please contact us.
William Kirk (our 1st William) came to America from Scotland via France and settled at St. Johns Berkeley Parish, Berkley County in South Carolina in early 1700s. He received a royal grant for lands in Craven County and his lands became known as Loch Dhu and Mount Pleasant Plantations. The 1939 Santee Hydroelectric & Navigation Project submerged this land under Lake Moultrie. According to the abstracts from Marriage Bonds of South Carolina: “William Kirk of the parish of St. Paul and John George Delebach of the parish of St. Phillips bond to Gov. Glen, 17th. August 1744. Licence to Rev. Alexander Garden to marry William Kirk and Mary Deleback, spinster. Signed by William Kirk and John George Delebach.” There were 6 children (4 sons & 2 daughters), but records only discuss 3 of the sons: William, Gideon and John. Both William and Gideon served in the Revolutionary Army under Gen. Francis Marion as guerilla troopers in the South Carolina Volunteers.
Gideon married Rebecca Couturier (widow of Peter Couturier). They had 7 children plus Gideon adopted Rebecca’s son, Elias. Gideon was a member of the South Carolina State Legislature, which called the Constitutional Convention to frame the present constitution of the United States. His daughter, Charlotte, married the adopted son of Francis Marion. Upon her death, he married Charlotte’s twin, Harriet, and they had 5 daughters.
William John Sr. (the 2nd William) married Miss Katharine Strobhart (German and one record spells the name Stobbar) who lived near Mathew’s Bluff on the Savannah River, where William settled. In 1781, while on furlough during the Revolution, some Tories rode up to his home at Swallow Savannah Plantation and asked if his name was Kirk and killed him as he stood in his doorway. Baby James Brown Kirk was thrown out of a bedroom window (in his cradle) into the arms of a slave. Katharine and the other two sons, Gideon and William John, Jr. (age 4) were forced out of the house. She took them up to Pineville, SC, where William’s brothers, Gideon and John, had settled.
Toward the close of the Revolution, Katharine went back to Mathew’s Bluff with her children, under the protection of the British Army. She afterwards married a Mr. John Rose, an Episcopal minister who was a very hard man. They moved near Bluffton, SC. It has been noted that Mr. Rose was so unkind to the boys that they ran away briefly. Gideon Kirk (the oldest son) was taken sick and died in Beaufort, SC – they think of consumption as he had a terrible cough. (One report says he was lost at sea.) William John Kirk, Jr and James Brown Kirk went to Charleston where William learned the shoe trade and James the carpenter trade. William stayed on there at his trade and settled at Pinopolis, which is north of Charleston on Lake Moultrie.
Mr. Rose purchased 1000 acres of the Colleton Barony from Sir John Colleton and it was called Rose Land or Rose Hill. When Mr. Rose died in 1799, James Kirk (at age 19 yrs) inherited that land called Rose Land or Rose Hill. Later, in 1804 when James Brown Kirk was by that time a wealthy man, he purchased an adjacent 880 acres to add to Rose Hill. In 1838, James Kirk gave that entire approximately 2000 acres of Rose Hill to his eldest living daughter as a wedding gift when she married her 1st cousin, Dr. John Kirk (son of James’ brother William). This acerage was but a portion of his vast land holdings.
Our interest, for the history of Rose Hill Plantation House, concentrates on the descendants of William John Kirk, Jr (via his son, Dr. John William Kirk) and James Brown Kirk (via his daughter, Caroline) and their descendants.
James Brown Kirk married Miss Mary Baldwin, daughter of Isaac and Sarah Baldwin of New Jersey in 1807. They settled near Bluffton, SC, (which is close to Hilton Head Island where Mary lived) and he had charge of Admiral Grave’s property. Grave was an English Admiral and had received a grant of land from the British government. James was extremely successful and, by 1810, owned 36 slaves; later 253 slaves. By the time of the 1850 U.S. census, his Okatee-Bluffton land holdings (including plantations he would be giving to each of daughters) amounted to over ten thousand acres. He was an influential (albeit quietly and behind the scenes) as well as wealthy figure of nineteenth century South Carolina history. (More details of James B. Kirk can be found in the book, A Short History of Callawassie Island, South Carolina, by William Behan.)
In 1850, James Kirk was the second largest cotton planter in St. Luke’s Parish. From his crop was processed 120 bags of cotton worth $13,344. The “sea island ” cotton that was grown in this area at the time was considered to be far superior to that which was grown throughout the rest of the South. He had 253 slaves. His plantation consisted of 2,400 improved acres and 1,600 unimproved acres worth sixty thousand dollars. He owned 14 horses, 20 mules, 20 oxen,100 cattle, 150 sheep, and 300 hogs. His dairy herd of 150 mild cows and his production of 650 pounds of buter, was the largest in the district. His livestock was valued at $6,810. Kirk produced 4,700 bushels of corn, 300 bushels of oats, 23,000 pounds of rice, 200 bushels of peas and beans, and 500 bushels of sweet potatoes.
The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina Volume 1, 1514-1861, by Lawrence S Rowland
James B. and Mary Baldwin (age 14 at her marriage) had sixteen children (shown in the genealogy charts), three of which hold a particular interest to the history of Rose Hill Plantation: Caroline (b. 1817), Clarence (b. 1834) and Dr. James Kirk (b. 1825). Clarence was the youngest son and inherited and lived on Callawassie Island, which originally was purchased by his father, James Brown Kirk. He also inherited an oil painting of William Kirk, Sr. as well as the treasured William Kirk, Sr.’s battle sword. Clarence never married and in his later years lived for a while at Rose Hill with his brother-in-law, John William Kirk (husband of his sister Caroline).
Many of Dr. James Kirk’s direct descendants even today still live in the Bluffton SC area and have contributed many original Kirk artifacts to our museum collection.
Caroline Kirk was the eldest surviving child of James and Mary. She married Dr. John William Kirk, her 1st cousin and son of her Uncle William John Kirk, Jr. (brother of James Brown Kirk). At the time of their marriage, James gave them a European honeymoon (1 month) and the 1880 acre Rose Hill Plantation.
Many Kirk descendants reside in the Bluffton & Hilton Head Island area as well as other areas of the country, but our concentration is on the families of John and Caroline Kirk.
To read more about them and the history of Rose Hill Plantation House, please go to the History section of this website.