Mrs. Suzan Kirk, widow of the late Bernard Kirk, is a Champaign County woman around whom center many associations and interests that betoken the spirit and achievements for which American life is most note-worthy. Mrs. Kirk was born in County Louth, Ireland, a daughter of Patrick and Ann (Casey) McGinnis. She was about fifteen years of age when her father died. While she was a girl in Ireland her cousin Mary Curley returned on a visit to the old country, and had much to say about the wonderful opportunities of the New World. It was these stories which largely decided Suzan to cast in her lot with the country across the water, and at the age of nineteen she set out and came alone across the ocean, landing at New York and going on to Chicago. She spent some time near Chicago, and while there met Bernard Kirk, also a native of the Emerald Isle and a son of Henry and Bridget Kirk. Bernard Kirk in the meantime had established himself in Champaign County and was in Chicago on business when he met Miss McGinnis. The acquaintance thus began continued with ripening affection until wedding bells sounded. The young couple possessed many of the virtues for which the land of Shamrock is noted, and began with vigor and enterprise the task of developing a 160-acre tract of land which Mr. Kirk owned in Champaign County. Their trip from Chicago to Champaign County was in the nature of a honeymoon.
Bernard Kirk had come to America with only $5 in capital, but steadily worked his way to a comparative degree of independence by the time he was married. Then, with the aid of a capable wife, progress was rapid, and the success of his career is measured in the extensive holdings of 715 acres of as fine land as the State of Illinois can show.
To Mr. and Mrs. Kirk were born the following children: Bernard, Patrick H., Anna, John Francis, Margaret Cecelia, Mary Loretta and’ Charles Joseph. Mr. and Mrs. Kirk did their utmost to train these children well both at home and in school. The children attended the Stone-street district school, while Margaret Cecelia finished her education in the Raymond school of Chicago. She is now the wife of Francis O’Toole, a resident of Chicago and connected with the United States postal service. Mr. and Mrs. O’Toole have a little daughter, Frances. The daughter Anna Kirk married Bernard Murphy, who for many years was with the Chicago police force and died five years ago.
After many years of companionship and mutual sharing of joy and sorrow and prosperity, Mr. Kirk departed this life in February, 1908, after a brief illness of one week. He was a kind neighbor, a forceful business man and farmer, and had a record of which his family will always be proud. “Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”
Thus left alone Mrs. Kirk faced the duties of life in a manner that has won for her the admiration of a large community. She took the management of the estate with the cooperation of her children and has shown a fine executive ability in keeping matters straight and in improving the large property left to her. She has never left the old homestead, and lives today amid the scenes which are associated with her coming to Champaign County as a happy and carefree bride. The crown of her life is her children, whom she has seen grow up around her and whose lives have partaken of the spirit and character of their worthy parents. The sons have proved themselves successful farmers, and the way in which the large estate is handled is the best evidence of their training and ability. Mrs. Kirk with all her many cares and responsibilities keeps in close touch with the issues of the day, and like many other American women, she abominates war and feels that its sacrifices are unjust and uncalled for. Mrs. Kirk and family are active members and liberal supporters of the Catholic Church at Penfield. While there have been trials and vicissitudes in her life, Mrs. Kirk considers it a golden day in her existence ‘when she left Ireland and came to America, and has never had a cause to regret her choice of the New World and the many pleasant and fruitful years she has spent here.