27 Jun 2009
Memorial Day weekend was very special this year at Rose Hill Plantation House. My Kirk family came home again! This time Bill Kirk (great great grandson of Dr. John and Caroline Kirk) brought his wife Jody and son Jarrett with him. Jarrett has just graduated from high school and this was the main purpose of the trip - to show Jarrett his ancestral grounds and to teach him about his roots. No celebrations and dedications this time. Bill had requested a private and quiet visit and introduction for Jarrett this year, so this is what happened....
They flew into the Savannah airport on Thursday May 21st and had enough time to see a bit of the city - even stopping at the Lady and Sons for a late lunch. On Friday they saw Hilton Head Island including the Chapel of Ease Cemetery where James Kirk and family are buried. James Kirk is Jarrett's great, great, great, great ( 4x! ) grandfather. They also got to see the Secession Oak and the Church of the Cross in Bluffton.
Saturday we took them to Beaufort to see all the beautiful old homes and art galleries & shops. The Gullah festival was being held that day at Henry Chambers' park, so the town was alive with activity. We had my favorite lunch - shrimp burgers at Kathleens. That evening we went down to Colleton Point to see the sunset and the River. The tide was perfectly high and, standing out on the gazebo, the view in the distance is still quite similar to what the 19th century Kirks would've seen.
Sunday we took them for brunch on Callawassie Island to meet my two favorite Southern belles - Tessie Rogers and Beryll Taylor who own the Great Frame Up. Tessie and Beryll are such dear friends and they were the perfect tour guides of Callawassie and Spring Island. James Kirk and his son Clarence owned Callawassie back in the 19th century, and the clubhouse there has a little display of artifacts and history that mentions Uncle Clarence Kirk and the first secession flag.
My parents also drove over from Georgia to spend this week with us and the Kirks. They've become friends with the Kirks as well over the past several years and always enjoy touring all the historic places with us. We drove to Grahamville (Ridgeland) on Memorial Day to see the Church of the Holy Trinity and the graveyard there where Dr. Kirk and Caroline are buried. My mother brought along the entire family tree chart that she has researched and corrected over several years to help make sense of all the headstones there in relation to the Kirks.
We also toured Bluffton that day and shopped on Calhoun Street. We stopped off at the Bluffton Cemetery to see Uncle Clarence Kirk's grave and Confederate Cross and the other Kirks relatives who are buried there - the Martins and other famous old Bluffton families. It was the first real day of sunshine since they arrived, so they finally got a chance to go to the beach as well.
That evening we had a lowcountry boil in Jarrett's honor. Rose Hill resident and Kirk family descendant Cynthia Glendenning and her husband Tom joined us, as well as Ms. Kippi McCulloch. Kippi's great grandparents (the Walkers) had known Bill's great grandparents. The Walkers owned Rose Hill during the early 20th century and Kippi had shared all this information with me back in December during her own homecoming here. I really wanted the Kirks to meet her especially, because she is such a wealth of information on "old" Bluffton (in the time before traffic and development) and full of funny stories of local characters - everyday vignettes into the simpler times of Bluffton's past. I love Kippi. She had us all laughing the entire dinner!
Afterwards, before turning in for the night, we all sat out on the front porch in the rockers, just as Dr. Kirk used to do well over a century ago. The view from the front porch has changed, but the old house is still here - just as Grace Fox Perry once wrote in 1946, "timeless and indestructible."
Looking at Bill Kirk, you can see his great great grandfather in him and now we've met Jarrett and Dr. Kirk is clearly in him as well - in both looks and goodness. They are the nicest and most down to earth family one could ever meet. Bill is a professional photographer and, of course, took many photos to document this trip. In fact, he has already emailed some of them to us yesterday when they arrived back in Kansas. My mother will have these photos added to our website soon.
Another treasured homecoming with Rose Hill's first family - the Kirks! Bill and Jody and Jarrett Kirk - the great great &.... great great great granchild of Dr. John and Caroline Kirk
May 21 - May 26, 2009