Monday, April 2, 2012

Life and Times of Charles Alexander Kirkpatrick

Written by Paisley Kirkpatrick in honor of her great-great grandfather, Dr. Charles Alexander Kirkpatrick:
Dr. Kirkpatrick kept a journal during his adventurous travel by wagon train across the country in 1849. Written with such eloquence, it is on microfilm and sealed in a glass container and kept in an air tight room in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, California. Its size is about 9 x 12 inches and its cover is of leather, which is tattered and very delicate due to its age. There are a total of forty hand-written pages. It was willed to the Bancroft Library so others could read about the adventurous early California pioneer.
An excerpt from my great-great grandfather's journal:
"This morning we again started on our journey and at 2 p.m. we had the best view of the train that we have had since we started. The road, in order to keep on good ground, forms a complete letter 'S'. In the middle of the letter, as it were, is a very high front from which a person can see the road and the wagons as far as the eye could distinguish objects. Within the range of this letter could be distinguished and counted with the naked eye 100 teams, all bound on the fool's errand to California. In this company might be seen the old gray-headed man who had almost numbered his three score and ten - the mother with the babe on her breast - the blushing girl of 16, but who by the time she had reached California will have lost the maiden blush by the association with the course vulgarity with which she is surrounded. It is useless to speak of particular characters, for every description from the reverend priest to the low footpad may be found enroute for California. And pain, disease and death also accompany us and, first one and another of our company are silently laid by the roadside to wait the summons of the Judgment day. And yet this makes no impression upon the survivors. The next day appears as though nothing had happened."
At the point of his adventure from St. Joseph, Missouri, to the gold fields of California, Charles was well-educated and already had his degree as a doctor of medicine. His handwriting was a beautiful script and written by a man with high morals and consideration of his fellow man.
Becoming rich in the gold fields didn't materialize, so he returned to the practice of medicine. He married and moved to Rio Vista, California, where he practiced his profession, had a pharmacy, and was also the postmaster of the town.
When the Civil War broke out he volunteered as a surgeon in the army from October 15, 1861 to October 15, 1865, and was stationed at Fort Mason, San Francisco, California and Fort Douglas, Utah as a Surgeon Major.
This is the can Surgeon Major Kirkpatrick kept his belongings in during the Civil War.

He kept his epilates on top inside the can.
These were all the objects inside the can.
After the war he became one of the leading doctors in San Francisco and Redwood City, California. In order to raise his family in a more favorable atmosphere he had built a lovely ten room home in Redwood City. It was considered a fine modern home at the time.
One of the many interests Dr. Kirkpatrick had was acting. He and his friends performed plays which were presented in their spacious home in Redwood City. Elaborate costumes were made and worn by the cast members. One of his associates was Mrs. Brown, a survivor of the Donner Party. Another friend, sculptor Douglas Tildon, made the famous Mechanic Statue which is displayed on Market Street in San Francisco.
My grandfather, Arthur Rowell Kirkpatrick, Jr., was born in this elaborate house and was delivered by his own grandfather, Charles Kirkpatrick on May 24, 1891. Dr. Kirkpatrick died in St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco on April 27, 1892.

34 comments:

  1. Wow, Paisley. What a great story! I envy you having such an illustrious ancestor. You had mentioned him before, but hadn't written a post about him. This was great.
    I enjoyed the post about the trip also. I had no idea that wagon trains were ever so long. If two to four people were with each wagon, that's a small town.
    Thanks for sharing this amazing story.

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  2. What a wonderful family history and thank you for sharing it. It's always a joy to hear the stories of those who came before us.

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  3. How cool, Paisley! It's great that your family kept records and artifacts.

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  4. Paisley--what a treasure of a relative you have. I loved reading the excerpt from his journal. I'd love to read the entire thing! And wasn't the handwriting of those days something?
    I could easily picture the "S" in the road, and placed myself there to see the 100 wagons. Thank you so much for sharing your ancestor with us.

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  5. Thanks Caroline. I love being the keeper of this Civil War treasure.

    What he wrote in his journal is actually what gave me the ideas for my first story which takes place on a wagon train. It will be my second story published. He had a great way for putting his thoughts down. My cousin and I both have a copy of the journal. The library classified as a five star journal.

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  6. Thanks MK. I am blessed with quite a bit of family ancestry to take care of. When you can actually see what existed in the past, it is easier to realize what the time period was like.

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  7. I immediately thought of you Susan when I opened the can again. Holding history in your hands is awesome.

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  8. Thanks Celia. It was fun reading his thoughts and about his experiences. He was a religious man and expressed a lot of personal thoughts. His wife is the lady I think I have inherited memories from. My writing sometimes overlaps with her words and thoughts. She is supposedly the first woman to have stories published in a magazine.

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  9. Paisley,
    Loved your post about your ancestor. What wonderful historical things to have for a remembrance of him, and how proud you can be of what he accomplished. Thanks so much for telling us more about him, and for the info about his journal in the museum. That's wonderful that you have a copy of it.

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  10. Oh Paisley, that gave me goosebumps! What an awesome piece of history you get to claim!

    I recently discovered that my husband is a descendant of Ulysses S. Grant, Union General and former President of the US. Way cool!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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  11. You gave me the thought to share these treasures, Jeanmarie. I have quite a few more treasures around here and must find info about them to share as well. It's fun to know the people in your family that are part of your makeup and genes.

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  12. Waving Patricia. How cool about your hubby. It's fun to find out about our ancestors - well, at least the upstanding ones. I know we have some 'bad boys and girls' lurking in the family tree as well. They would probably be more fun to search out.

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  13. This is wonderful and I am so tickled for you to have such a piece of your history.

    Thank you for sharing your family and the journal with us.

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  14. Waving Sarah. How fun to see you here. I have always treasured what this grandfather has left for us. And, yes, he does come from the Scottish ancestry. ;) He doesn't look the kilt-wearing type, though.

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  15. Oh my goodness, Paisley, that was one amazing post! It's so cool that you know so much about your great-great grandfather (I think I got the amount of greats right haha)

    I love seeing old pictures like that. It just makes it that much more special to know this man was your relative in a very difficult time in history.

    Thanks for sharing Paisley!

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  16. What a wonderful history to know and hand down!

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  17. Hi Renee, Fun to see you today. Yes, it is fun to find out who is living on the family tree. He certainly had an interesting life.

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  18. Thanks Paty. My daughter really loves the history as well. I like to weave some of it into my stories.

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  19. Those are great! So nice to have things passed down through generations. Thanks for sharing

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  20. Hi BJ. Thanks for joining in today. I have always loved history, especially our family's.

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  21. What an intriguing post! Such cherished memories and a vivid way to bring the past to life. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Paisley. It was wonderful!

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  22. Hugs to you and my little guy. I am so glad you came by to say hi today. :)

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  23. Wow, that is so cool. I loved it. did you all get to have a copy of his diary? What a unique perspective to be a doctor on a wagon train. Thanks so much for sharing this piece of your family history!

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  24. Thank you, Kathy. My cousin who is also in genealogy has a copy as well. I was amazed at how beautiful his penmanship is...for a doctor. :)

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  25. Loved this post, Paisley! Thanks SO much for sharing with us.

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  26. Thank you, Anita. I loved being able to share photos of something so beautiful.

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  27. This is a great story. A great man with a great great grand daughter just as great as he was. I find old family history very interesting. Almost makes me want to transport through time. :)

    Thank you for sharing. You both should be very proud of what you've accomplished.

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  28. Thank you, Anne-Marie. I feel honored to be carrying the same name as him. ;)

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  29. What amazing family history, Paisley. How luck to have such seeds of inspiration here for your own stories.

    I have some old family journals...written in German LOL. My great-great grandfather marched with Gen. Tecumseh Sherman to the sea. Fortunately he got discharged with dysentery just before Atlanta.

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  30. Thanks Tanya. I'm glad your great, great grandpa wasn't in that horrible battle or we might night have you here. :)

    Wouldn't it be fun to find someone who could translate all the German.

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  31. Paisley, what a beautiful post. It is clear to see from whence you inherited your writing talent. The excerpt from your great-grandfather's journal was so moving. Beautifully written.

    I am curious from where the wagon train started? Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I loved IT!!!

    Ashley

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  32. The wagon train started in St. Joseph. He made the comment that the Missouri River was so crooked that when birds flew over it often times they were still on the same side. I loved that comment. :)

    Thanks for your comment, Ashley.

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  33. Amazing! You are so lucky to have such fabulous family history that includes wonderful artifacts.

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  34. Thank you Lauri. I particularly like the Civil War artifacts. I have several others to share some day.

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