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Below is a family biography included in The History of Texas County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Col. John S. Kirwan was born in Lempster, Sullivan Co., N. H., June 22, 1840. His parents, Hugh and Bridget (Hanigan) Kirwan, were born in the counties of Galway and Rosscomon, Ireland, respectively, and were the parents of ten children, five boys and five girls, John, the youngest of the family, is the subject of this sketch. In May, 1840, Mr. Hugh Kirwan and his family immigrated to America, locating in Sullivan County, N. H., and engaged in farming. In 1851 he died, at the age of sixty-five years, and his widow and the remainder of his children at home, Timothy, Ann, Cecelia, Delia and John, moved to the city of Manchester, N. H., where John attended school, and at times worked in the factories. In 1855 he entered the dry goods house of H. Doherty & Co., 339 and 341 Washington Street, Boston, Mass., as salesman, and remained there until 1856, when he returned to Manchester, N. H., and acted as salesman for Wright & Gill and W. A. Putney & Co. In 1858, at the age of eighteen years, he ran away from home, and enlisted in the Regular Army (First, now the Fourth, Cavalry), at Boston, Mass. He was sent from Boston to the school of instruction for cavalry at Carlisle Barracks, Penn., and later joined his regiment at Fort Riley, Kas., on the last day of May, and on the following day, June 1, 1859, the command started for the Upper Arkansas River, for the purpose of observing the movements of the Indians, and to protect the mail and Pike’s Peakers (it being the time of the Pike’s Peak craze). In September, 1859, the Comanche, and Kiowa Indians declared war, killing Mr. Peacock, who was keeping a ranch on Walnut Creek. Kirwan’s company, “K,” was kept pretty busy the fall and winter of 1859-60, fighting Indians and building Fort Learned, on Pawnee Fork, Kas. The spring and summer of 1860 found him with Maj. Segwick (afterward Maj. Gen. Segwick, commanding the Sixth Army Corps, who was killed at the battle of Spottsylvania, Va.). In August, 1860, he was engaged with Indians at Blackwater, about forty miles north of the Arkansas River, where the Indians were defeated. First Lieut. J. E. B. Steward (afterward the famous rebel general) was in command. Immediately after this battle the Indians sued for peace. Maj. Segwick was ordered to build a fort, then called Fort Wise (now Lyons), at a place called Bent’s Fort, on the Upper Arkansas River. The company of which he was a member remained at Fort Wise until the fall of 1861, when it was ordered to Fort Leavenworth, Kas., and from there to West Point, Ky., being assigned to the command of Maj. Gen. Buell, by whom it was ordered to reinforce Gen. Grant in front of Fort Donelson. It arrived there just after the surrender, and was ordered to Nashville, Tenn. On arriving, Companies G and K were assigned as escort to Gen. Buell and participated in the battles of Shiloh, Miss., and in front of Corinth, and from there to
Huntsville, Ala., and Bridgeport, Tenn., and in the great duel race between Gens. Buell and Bragg to the Ohio River, participating in the battles of Perryville, or Chaplin Hill, and Crab Orchard, Ky. Immediately after Crab Orchard, Gen. Buell was relieved by Rosecrans, and the name of the army changed from the Army of the Ohio to the Army of the Cumberland, and the Fourth Regular Cavalry was assigned as escort to Gen. Rosecrans, and was recruited up to its maximum strength. On the 1st of December, 1862, young Kirwan was made a corporal in his company, and on the day after the battle of Stone River he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. On the 10th day of April, 1863, he was captured by the enemy, while leading a charge of eighteen men on the Louisburg Pike, about five miles south of Franklin, Tenn. Six of his men were killed, and he and the remainder of the squad were captured and sent, to Libby Prison, Richmond, Va., where he remained two months, and being exchanged, again joined his company on the 19th day of June, just in time to participate in the advance on Shelbyville, Tullahoma and Decherd, Tenn. At Decherd he was detailed by the War Department to report to Andrew Johnson, military governor of Tennessee, for the purpose of drilling and organizing the different regiments of Tennessee cavalry then being organized for the Union. On the 1st of October, 1863, Mr. Kirwan was commissioned lieutenant of Company C, Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, and on the 20th of the same month promoted to captain of the same company, and at short intervals promoted to the rank of major, lieutenant-colonel and colonel of his regiment. In December, 1863, he was ordered to take command of the post at Charlotte, Dickson County, Tenn., and to clean out the bushwhackers in that vicinity, which he did, killing and wounding quite a number, and capturing 157, which he sent to Nashville to be tried by military commission. In 1864 he was busily engaged against the rebel generals, Forrest, Wheeler and Williams, and fought them at Elk Creek, Florence, Triune and Pulaski, in Alabama and Tennessee. In the fall of 1864 Col. Kirwan was ordered to relieve Col. Clift of the command of the brigade composed of the Fifth, Tenth and Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, United States Volunteers, then stationed in front of Gen. Hood at Florence, Ala., and was placed as Third Brigade of Gen. Ed. Hatch’s Division. Col. Kirwan fought Hood’s army on its march on Nashville, at Campbellsville, Spring Hill and at Franklin, Tenn., where he lost many officers and men, among whom was Maj. Morgan Boland, a brave officer, who was mortally wounded while leading his regiment in a charge. Col. Kirwan was with the cavalry corps on Gen. Thomas’ right wing at the battle of Nashville, December 15 and 16, and assisted in breaking the enemy’s left wing and capturing eighteen pieces of artillery and 3,000 prisoners. He was also engaged in the pursuit of Gen. Hood to the Tennessee River, and fought his last battle on Christmas Day, 1864, at Robinson’s Hill, Tenn. At Sugar River, Ala., Col. Kirwan was placed in command of 500 picked men to cut off Hood’s rear guard and wagon train before it crossed the Tennessee River, which he did (or what was left of it). He was then ordered, with the rest of the cavalry, to Gravelly Springs, Ala., and from there to Eastport, Miss., where he remained until the 1st of May, 1865, when he was ordered with his regiment to St. Louis, Mo. He received a new outfit of horses and equipments, and was ordered to report to Gen. Dodge at Leavenworth, Kas., and then ordered by Gen. Dodge to establish a temporary military post at the 100th meridian, on the north fork of the Solomon River, Kas., where the city of Kirwin, Kas., now stands. Col. Kirwan remained there with his regiment, fighting the Indians and furnishing a guard for the corps of engineers that were surveying the land for the Government, until November, 1865, when the regiment was ordered to Leavenworth to be mustered out of service. Immediately after being mustered out of the service, Col. Kirwan located in the Solomon Valley, in Ottawa County, Kas., and opened the first store in the now city of Minneapolis. In 1866 Col. Kirwan was elected a delegate from Ottawa County to the State Republican Convention at Topeka, Kas., and was there elected one of the vice-presidents of that convention. In 1867 he moved to St. Louis, Mo., and became a member of the Metropolitan police force of that city, first as sergeant and then as captain of police. In 1870 he resigned from the police, and took the stump, with the rest of the liberal Republicans, in favor of the enfranchisement of those whom he lately fought. In 1871 (October 1) Col. Kirwan entered the St. Louis post-office, and worked there for sixteen years and two months, resigning from there on December 1, 1887. On January 1, 1880, he bought part of the farm he now owns (five miles east of Houston, on the Salem road, and one and one-half miles west of Raymondville), and has since been adding to it. He is now the owner of 330 acres, which are well stocked. Col. Kirwan is, and always has been, a Republican in politics. He cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Col. Kirwan’s discharge and papers from the army show that he was in twenty-five battles during the war and with Indians, and had some narrow escapes and thrilling adventures during seven years’ service. His mother and two sisters, Ann and Cecelia, moved to Missouri in 1859, and settled in Osage County, where his mother died in 1860, aged sixty years. The elder sister, Ann, married a Mr. King there, and in 1861 moved to Texas County, near Raymondville, where her husband died, and she again married, in 1870, Mr. William H. Wilson. The second sister, Cecelia, married Mr. John McKenna, in St. Louis, Mo., in 1866. She is also a resident of Texas County, near Raymondville. His sister Delia married Mr. George MacKenzie, and lives in Minneapolis, Kas. Col. Kirwan has been married twice; to his first wife, Jennie Greener, daughter of Nicholas and Ellen Greener, at Nashville, Tenn., in November, 1863. She died of cholera in St. Louis, October 20, 1867. He married again, Jennie Bierman, daughter of John M. and Rosenna Bierman, at St. Louis, Mo., February 7, 1869. He has one child living by his first wife, Ellen Cecelia Kirwan, now the wife of Mr. Benjamin Osborn Holt, and is also a resident of Texas County. Col. Kirwan and his near relatives are all members of the Catholic Church. Both his wives were converts to that religion.

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This family biography is one of 110 biographies included in The History of Texas County, Missouri published in 1889.  For the complete description, click here: Texas County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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