When I think about the late 1800’s, knowing today’s technology was non-existent, I cannot help but marvel at the amount of work that each person, each family member did EVERYDAY, especially those people who did not live in the cities. These men and women were merely taking care of themselves and their families, just as we do today, but without modern conveniences. They faced the same problems, fears and excitements that we have; we just have the tools to share those moments to the world. Now you’re probably wondering what does that have to do with the featured Birdwell, I’m getting there…Imaging being in a rural area with no way to communicate with anyone besides your immediate family, possibly only seeing others at church on Sunday or while you managed to take your weekly/monthly journey into town on foot or horseback? Well imagine being a preacher back then. Having to deliver a sermon on each Sunday and ensure that your members were taken care of, prayed for, baptized, married and given a proper burial – all the while ensuring your immediate family was tended to. The amount of selfless work that went in to this was so much more than a job, it was personal and the want to share their beliefs of God with others was of utmost importance. Ensuring that each person knew God’s love, but the task of bringing together community members who shared in the same beliefs – well that is a very heavy load to carry. These men were beacon’s in their communities, working tirelessly. So, this week, I give you a Kirby, not a Birdwell. The Kirby’s and the Birdwell’s have married into each others families several times, it is my Great Grandmother Emma, daughter of Jesse M. Kirby who married Thomas Birdwell.
Reverend Jesse Moreland Kirby was a Methodist Preacher. He is one of nine children born to Edmund Shepard and Nancy (Brown) Kirby. Born in Jackson County, Tennessee in May 13, 1848. Jesse married Ms. Nancy “Vicie” Davidson around 1878 in Jackson County, Tennessee. She is the daughter of Dr. William M. and Manerva Davidson.
While there may be more, I know for fact that one church Jesse preached at was the Shipley Community Church in Cookeville, TN. I don’t know how often he would preach here or a definite on the years (I am currently trying to obtain these records) but I do believe he was here around the years 1907-1911. I think this because one of Jesse’s grandchildren is buried in the Shipley Cemetery across the street. This was not an area where that family lived, and would have been a 15-20 mile distance from them.
Born to Jesse and Nancy Kirby were the following children:
- William Edmund Kirby
- Thomas Lewis Kirby
- Robert Kirby
- Rev. Obbie Adolphus Kirby
- Ida Kirby
- Emma Lousetta Kirby – This is where my Birdwell line comes in.
- Cleory Kirby Thomas
- Jesse M. Kirby Jr.
- Leonard Kirby
Jesse died just 40 days before his 90th birthday on April 3, 1938. He and Nancy are buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Baxter, Tennessee. Jesse and Nancy have matching, and some of the most recognizable, headstones in the cemetery.
A copy of his obituary, taken from the findagrave website, reads as follows.
“Funeral services were conducted at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Baxter Monday by the Revs. H. P. Keathley and Dow Ensor, for the Rev. Jesse M. Kirby, 90, who died at his home in Baxter Sunday.
The Rev. Mr. Kirby was a minister in the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Spiscopal Church South, but had retired several years ago. He formerly lived in Cookeville.
He is survived by three daughters, Mrs. Thomas Wilson Birdwell, Mrs. Greene Thomas, and Mrs. Charley C. Granvell, all of Baxter, and three
sons, The Rev. Obbie Adolphus Kirby, of Unionville, TN; Tom Kirby of Nashville, and Leonard Kirby, of Dearborn, MI.”