AMY KIRK: Don’t turn down a man with a mustacheMy husband’s great-grandfather, John A. Kirk, was an economical man and a visionary, capable of growing a good mustache and retaining his full set of teeth.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
My husband’s great-grandfather, John A. Kirk, was an economical man and a visionary, capable of growing a good mustache and retaining his full set of teeth.
When my husband and I started dating, his family shared how the Kirks got established in Pringle. Conversations always led to the John Kirk achievements. These included the now locally famous Kirk barn, built in 1914, where John Kirk homesteaded. But more importantly, the man died at 93 years old with all of his teeth — the one factoid that stands out the most with me in learning about my husband’s family history. This held some kind of importance in the family because both my husband and my father-in-law made a point of mentioning it to me, and it still gets brought up occasionally.
It’s not mere coincidence that my husband is resourceful, opportunistic, industrious and handsome, either. He inherited these traits from his great-grandfather, but at the beginning of our courtship, the most notable hereditary trait my husband got from his great grandfather was good, healthy, facial hair follicles. Part of the reason I was smitten with my husband was because he looked like a younger version of Sam Elliott — my long-time movie star crush.
I was introduced to John Kirk’s mustache shortly after I started dating my husband. The first thing I noticed in John and Anna Kirk’s wedding portrait was the thick whiskers on John’s upper lip. It was his great-grandfather’s mustache that inspired my husband to grow a similar mustache. Throughout our courtship, I took a lot of ribbing about how I managed to kiss a man with such a big mustache in the way.
Other family history I learned was that brothers John and Lash Kirk trailed a herd of cattle here from Centerville, Iowa. This undertaking proved to be one of the easier accomplishments in John Kirk’s lifetime. The story goes that he spent his golden years in the old blacksmith shop straightening bent nails. The evidence of the difficulty in such a task is still visible on the threshold of the blacksmith shop’s doorsill and the big round stump that’s been kept in the shop. Both are peppered with nails that were either given up on or hammered down as bent-over nails.
Even back then, John Kirk knew that making a living solely off a cow herd wasn’t a prosperous venture in the Black Hills and found other enterprising ways to supplement his income. Being a visionary and an entrepreneur, he acquired Black Hills Lime Company by accepting company shares in lieu of payment when the company couldn’t pay him for the wood he sold them to cook the lime. Eventually the company became a Kirk family business.
John took advantage of other opportunities around him as well, like land. He knew someone else’s loss could be his fortune and added to the Kirk’s property when he purchased land on the steps of the Custer County courthouse. To this day, one of the Kirk family commandments is not letting property taxes go delinquent and to avoid such information from being printed in the newspaper.
Of all the hereditary traits and business sense my husband has inherited, by far his best was his insight in choosing a wife.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourthgeneration cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.