This letter was written in two parts—the first by William B. Kirk (1822-1901) and the second part by Ann (Jenkins) Kirk (1825-1917). The couple were married in 1845 and resided in Flushing, Belmont county, Ohio, at the time of the Civil War where William earned a living as a dry goods merchant. Their children in 1860 included Cyrus H. Kirk (b. 1847), John J. Kirk (b. 1849), and Ralph W. Kirk (b. 1858). We learn that the couple also had an 1 year-old infant named Elwilla (“Ella”) when this letter was written in April 1863.
William entered the service in August 1862 as the Captain of Co. B, 126th Ohio Infantry. He mustered out on 23 June 1863—a little more than two months after this letter was written—discharged for disability. By 1870, William had relocated his business and family to Morristown, Union township, Belmont county, Ohio. In addition to the mercantile business, William did well in the wool-buying business.
We learn from the letter that Ann has gone to Martinsburg, Virginia, with her 1 year-old daughter to visit her husband who was posted there on duty as “Permit Officer.” The letter was addressed to their other children who were staying with their grandparents. The letter was was really addressed to the oldest boy, Cyrus who would have been 15 years old at the time. A picture was included with the letter that is not identified but was probably Cyrus H. Kirk. Another period image of Ralph, who would have only been five years old, was found on Find-A-Grave.
April 19, 1863
This is Sabbath evening. Mother and I are comfortably situated at sisters. She got here yesterday by the noon train & is quite well. Ella also except she is a little cross from her ride. I hope you are well and enjoying your visit at Grand Pops. I hope you will be good boys and give Pop & Mother as little trouble as possible as they are very kind indeed to take care of you while mother comes to see me. Give them my very best respects and tell them I remember them in very great respect. Hope I may live to see them again at their old six-mile run house when the mantle of peace is spread out over these United States and our glorious old flag unfurled to the breeze from every capitol in the Union. Then—and not until then—will I be willing to lay down my arms & return to my home, to remain with the dear ones there.
We have news last evening that Fairfax Court House is take by our forces & that the Rebels are about to make a run down the valley. But let them come. We will give them a warm reception, I do assure you.
I hope you will be careful of dear little Ralph. I should be sorry if he gets hurt while mother is away. Get Minor Hamell to cut that cancer out oof the mare’s nose again. Yet I expect it will do no good. But if it not done, she will die and if she dies from the operation, let her go. It will not be the first mare that ever died. You can see fifty dead horses here in an hour’s ride. I am still Permit Officer and will be in town perhaps all the time mother remains. Well, as mother wishes to write some, I will close.
Ever your affectionate father, — Wm. N. Kirk
This is Monday morning and a very rainy morning. We have got a very nice comfortable room to stay in and have the nicest family to board with. John, I tell you Estella is the prettiest girl and the nicest girl I ever seen. She is tending Ella for me. She kept her while I went up to camp yesterday. In fact, she nurses all the time. I am going to bring her likeness home with me. She says she would come if her mother will let her.
Well, I got here all safe. I got to Wheeling at five o’clock and took the cars at eight and I took a sleeping car and Ella and me went to bed and slept real good all night. I slept some. We was almost to Cumberland when I got up in the morning and I got to Martinsburg at eleven o’clock. I guess I was glad when I saw your Pap on the platform waiting to meet me.
Simeon looks as fat as ever and was real glad to see me. I did not see John Morris but he is well again. I hope you will all keep well and be good boys and help grandmother and take good care of Ralph and when I come home, I’ll tell you all about things I have seen. Give my love to grand pop and mother. I must close. Write soon. Goodbye. Your affectionate mother, — Ann
P. S. Ralph, be a good boy and I will fetch you something nice when I come home. Goodbye. Every yours, — Mother