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Kirk-Wilkinson manuscript collection

Identifier: MS 3259


This collection contains correspondence, financial and business records, poetry, and genealogical records pertaining to the Kirk, Wilkinson, Haddock, and Pusey families of Cecil County, Maryland, circa 1730-1926. The bulk of the collection contains materials related to Sarah Haddock Kirk Wilkinson (1824-1910) and her husband, Morris Robert Wilkinson (1825-1897), as well as their children.


  • 1730 - 1926


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

The earliest Kirk to arrive in the United States was Alphonsus Kirk (1659-1745), a Quaker from Lurgan, a town in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. He immigrated in 1688 and married Abigail Sharpley in 1692. They settled in Delaware and had 11 children, one of whom was Adam Kirk (1707-1774), who married Phebe Mendenhall in 1744. Their son was Caleb Kirk (1756-1831), who married Sarah Chandler. They also had a son named Caleb Kirk (1792-1872), who married Ann Langtry Haddock (1791-1894) in Delaware in 1822. Caleb and Ann had three children: Sarah Haddock Kirk Wilkinson (1824-1910), Samuel Mason Kirk (1827-1909), and Rebecca Ann Kirk Pusey (1832-1906). Sarah, the eldest, was born in Delaware, while the rest of her siblings were born in Maryland after the family moved.

Morris Roberts Wilkinson (1825-1897) was the son of Hannah Phillips (1790-1852) and William Wilkinson (1787-1829). He was the eighth of nine children born to the couple. His siblings were: Mary (1814-1896), Francis (1815-1890), William (1816-1877), John P. (1818-1896), Elizabeth T. (1819-), Samuel (1821-1893), Sara Ann (1823-), and Marshall P. (1827-1891). The Wilkinson family lived in London Grove Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and attended the London Grove Friends Meeting House.

Sarah Haddock Kirk, who went by Sallie, married Morris Roberts Wilkinson on November 25, 1852 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in a ceremony officiated by Mayor Charles Gilpin. Morris had recently returned from two years in California during the Gold Rush. After their wedding, they briefly lived in Georgetown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where Morris ran a general store. Morris and Sallie moved to Cecil County, Maryland in 1854, where Sallie's parents also lived. They attended the Brick Meeting House in Rising Sun, Cecil County, and Morris opened another general store. Together the couple had five children: William C. (1853-1910), Caleb Kirk (1855-1921), Anna Mary (1858-1954), Sarah R. (1861-1933), and Francis Hilary (1864-1935). The donor's line of descent originates from Francis (Frank) Hilary Wilkinson, the only child of Morris and Sallie Wilkinson to have children of his own.

Morris, Sallie, and their children were all buried at Woodlawn Friends Meeting House Cemetery in Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia. The family moved to Virginia sometime shortly after November 1885. The Wilkinson family home and store in Cecil County had burned down in June 1883, although it is not known whether the fire was the reason for the family's move.


1.25 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Susan Hellman, May 2022.

Scope and Contents

The Kirk-Wilkinson manuscript collection consists of four series: Correspondence, Business and Financial records, Poetry, and Miscellaneous.

Series I, Correspondence, is further divided into two subseries: original correspondence and transcribed correspondence. The original correspondence subseries contains original letters written by members of the Kirk, Wilkinson, Pusey, and Haddock families, circa 1844-1926. This subseries is further categorized by the authors of the letters. The transcribed correspondence subseries contains transcriptions of letters written by the Kirk, Wilkinson, Pusey, and Haddock families, circa 1810-1886. The transcribed correspondence is arranged chronologically. The Maryland Center for History and Culture does not have the orignal copies of these transcribed letters. The donor believes them to reside with the Cecil County Historical Society. Both the original and the transcribed correspondence relates mostly to family matters.

The bulk of the original correspondence consists of letters written to Sarah H. Wilkinson from her sister Rebecca Kirk Pusey, her children, and cousins. The letters contain updates on the children and the health and movements of family members, as well as general musings on day-to-day events. The authors do not typically mention larger events of the time; instead, the letters reflect the lives of an average Quaker family. The language used between family members is that of plain speech, using "thee", "thou", and "thine" when referring to another person. The letters are dated in the Quaker manner as well, using the numbering system to replace the names of the months. For instance, January 1, 1870 is written as "1st month, 1st, 1870." This also applies to the days of the week, with Sunday as 1st Day, and so on to the 7th Day. The authors frequently mention attending Meetings, which is a Quaker religious service.

Series II, Business and Financial records, consists of 5 folders arranged chronologically. The first folder contains photocopies of land indentures to Caleb Kirk, dated 1792-1814. The documents concern land in Delaware, and are included in the collection for reference use only. The original documents are held in the Delaware Public Archives, Hall of Records, in Dover, Delaware.

Also included in Series II are a day book and ledger belonging to Sarah H. Kirk, beginning in 1838. Both the day book and the ledger contain the names of individuals who presumably frequented a family store. The entries list numerous items including coffee, cheese, satin and lace, spirits, quills, and paper, among others. On several of the pages, Sarah Kirk writes her name, along with a phrase of some kind. At the bottom of the page under 12th month 1st, 1838, a quote reads, "May Heaven be the happy residence of the good." Also included in the daybook as loose pages are articles of agreement for land belonging to Caleb Kirk and John Haddock. These documents date from 1839 to 1863. The final two folders in Series II contain checks and promissory notes, and a bill of sale belonging to Morris Wilkinson.

Series III, Poetry, consists of 3 folders of poetry compositions. The first folder in this series contains a book of poetry by Sarah H. Kirk, circa 1839-1841. Many of the pages contain the title of the poem, the poem itself, and the date and signature of Sarah H. Kirk at the bottom of the page. One poem is titled, "Farewell to the City of Beauty," followed by a note that says, "Written on leaving Baltimore." The date of the composition reads, "2nd month 9th, 1840." Intersperced throughout the book are loose pages, some written by Sarah Kirk, and some by unknown authors. The second folder contains a poem written by James Albert Haddock, and the third folder contains miscellaneous poetry by various members of the Kirk, Wilkinson, and Haddock families.

Series IV, Miscellaneous, consists three folders of materials unrelated to each other. Included is the Kirk book of marriages, births, and deaths, circa 1730-1880s. The inside cover of the book contains a note that reads, "This book bought by Adam Kirk the 10 of the 1st mo 1730." The book contains records of the births, marriages, and deaths of various members of the Kirk family beginning with Alphonsus Kirk, the first member of the Kirk family to immigrate to America in 1688. The pages are sporadically filled out by various members of the Kirk family over the course of 150 years, with many pages left blank. The final pages of the book contain a weather log from 1765-1824, as well as a record of the locusts for 1766, 1783, and 1800. In the log for 1766, the entry reads, "26th of ye fifth month the Locusts appeared above ground in Swarms. this is Done for Satisfaction to End Disputes Concerning the time they May come again, if it Pleases Providence that I may Live to See the Time.----S. Kirk." Included with the Kirk book is a transcription of the pages, provided by the donor.

Also included in Series III is an autograph book belonging to Sallie Wilkinson, the daughter of Morris and Sarah Wilkinson. The pages of the book contain signatures of her family, friends, and classmates at Martin Academy, a Quaker school in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The final item in this series is a single photograph of a Tom Haddock taken at the studio of M. & W. Garrett in Wilmington, Delaware. A note on the reverse of the photograph notes that Tom Haddock is "Lellie's and Hani's brother." He may be the son of Samuel Haddock, Sarah H. Kirk Wilkinson's first cousin.

Guide to the Kirk-Wilkinson manuscript collection
Mallory Harwerth
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States