Jefferson County Historical Society

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Judge William J. Kirk, undertaker and dealer in agricultural implements,
postmaster, notary public and real estate agent, at Maxville, Mo., was
born in St. Louis, October 1, 1839, and is the eldest of eight children
of Francis and Margaret (Roensteel) Kirk, only himself and a sister now
living.  The father was born in County Down, Ireland, April 9, 1809, 
and when a young man came to the United States and spent some years in
New York City, engaged in the bakery business.  He then went to Conewago, 
Penn., where he learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed until 
compelled to abandon it on account of old age.  He was married in
Pennsylvania in 1838, and immediately afterward took a stage trip 
across the mountains to St. Louis, where he lived until 1853, when he
moved to a farm in Jefferson County, and in 1874 he moved to Maxville,
and here died October 21, 1887, aged seventy eight years, six months 
and twelve days.  The mother was born in Indiana in 1816, and died 
April, 1874, aged fifty seven years and eleven months.  She was a member 
of the Catholic Church, as well as her husband, who was a convert. The 
Judge was reared principally in St. Louis, and educated at the public 
and sectarian schools of the city and in the schools of Jefferson County, 
where he came with his parents.  He served in the Enrolled Missouri 
Militia as Captain of Company H, Eightieth Regiment, and operated on the 
Iron Mountain Railroad.  In 1863 he married Miss Mary Josephine Ruess, a 
native of St. Louis County, Mo., born June 27, 1844, and the daughter of 
John N. and Martha Ruess, who were born in Baden, Germany.  Of the ten 
children born to Mr. Kirk and wife, seven are now living: Dr. William 
J. F., Phillip J., Thomas J., Francis J., Mary J., Anna J. and Robert J.  
He was instrumental in establishing the postoffice at Maxville, and has 
been postmaster at that place for sometime, ever since 1873.  He has 
lived within two miles of Maxville ever since 1853, and about 1873 he 
moved to Maxville, and for fourteen years has resided in the town engaged 
in merchandising, etc., and for twelve years he has been notary public, 
and has been justice of the peace for nine years, commencing soon after 
the war.  In 1880 he was elected county judge from the First District 
and served one term.  During all his official career he has retained his 
good name and has given general satisfaction.  He is an earnest worker 
for the cause of education, and is politically a life long Democrat, his 
first presidential vote being cast for J. C. Breckinridge, in 1860.  He 
is a member of the Catholic Knights of America and other benevolent societies.