John Findley Kirker, of Wichita, is the senior member of the firm of Kirker & Marsh, the leading undertakers of that thriving city. He was born on a farm near Ripley, Brown county, Ohio, Feb. 5, 1853. His parents, Thomas G. and Mary (Findley) Kirker, were both natives of Ohio, the former of Adams county and the latter of Brown county. James Kirker, the father of Thomas G., also was a native of Adams county, Ohio. The Kirker family is of Scotch-Irish descent and the original ancestors of the family in this country immigrated to America from the North of Ireland, prior to the Revolution. The family scattered and some of the descendants settled in Ohio in an early day. It was the Ellison family, of which James Kirker's wife was a member, that cleared the ground where the city of Manchester, Ohio, now stands. Thomas G. Kirker and his family removed from Ohio to Quenemo, Kan., in 1871. There the father bought from a squatter his right to a farm on the diminished reserve of the Sacs and Fox Indians. The father is still living, and resides with his son in Wichita. He has reached the age of eighty-seven and is still enjoying good health. The wife and mother died in 1898. Thomas G. and Mary (Findley) Kirker became the parents of three sons: John Findley, James G., and Cyrus E., of whom only John F. survives.
John Fndley Kirker was eighteen years of age at the time of the family's removal to Kansas. The following year he entered the Kansas State Normal School at Emporia, and completed the course there in 1875, having taught one term of school in the meantime. Following his graduation he was made principal of the schools at Cottonwood Falls and Strong City, and when the two towns were separated, he continued as principal of the Strong City school for two years. During that time he also conducted a number of county normals. He then discontinued teaching and returned to Quenemo, where he engaged in the hardware business until 1885. For the following three years he was assistant cashier in the Strong City National Bank. In 1889 he gave up his bank position and engaged in the hardware, lumber and implement business in Strong City until 1896. In 1893 he bought property in Wichita and removed his family there, but he, himself, remained in Strong City until he disposed of his interests there, in 1896. He did not immediately re-engage in business, but looked about some years for a good business opening. In 1903 he established himself in the undertaking business in the city of Wichita, and has there been very successfully engaged to the present time. When opening his establishment he took as a partner, his son-in-law, Arthur R. Marsh, who has continued to be associated in the business. They have one of the most completely equipped undertaking establishments in the city of Wichita, and probably the equal of any in the state. Their stock and equipment is thoroughly modern and they own their own morgue. They have two branch houses, one at Clearwater, and one at Goddard, both fully equipped, and both successful.
On Feb. 5, 1878, Mr. Kirker married Miss Lida E. Moore, formerly of Cincinnati, Ohio, but who, at the time of her marriage, was a teacher under Mr. Kirker at the Cottonwood Falls schools. Mrs. Kirker is the daughter of Aaron Burr Moore, a prominent wholesale and retail coal dealer in Cincinnati, in which city Mrs. Kirker was born, and educated in the high school. She taught several years in Kansas and during the session of the state legislature in 1873 was appointed and served as an engrossing clerk, being a fine penman. Mr. and Mrs. Kirker have two children: Luella May, born May 6, 1880, was educated in the Wichita schools, and is the wife of Arthur R. Marsh, the business partner of Mr. Kirker. Paul Edward, born Nov. 4, 1886, was educated in the Wichita schools and at a business college. After eight years of service with the Missouri Pacific railroad and the Wichita Railway Terminal Association, the last year as chief clerk for the latter company, he resigned to locate in Oregon, and now owns a forty-acre fruit farm at Grant's Pass, Ore., where he is meeting with great success as a fruit grower. He married Miss Gail Sutton, of Wichita, in 1905, and they have two childrenRuth and Paul E. Mr. Kirker has been a stanch Republican all of his life and takes an active interest in political affairs. He served as county commissioner of Chase county, Kansas, three years, and as a member of the Wichita school board, but has never been a seeker for political honors. He has attained a high rank in Masonry, being a Thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, a Knight Templar Mason and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Encampment, the Uniformed Rank of the Knights of Pythias and the Triple Tie Association. He and his wife are both members of the Order of the Eastern Star, the Daughters of Rebekah and the Pythian Sisters. Both are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. He is a member of both the Kansas and Oklahoma Funeral Directors' Association, and always attends the meetings.Pages 887-889 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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