Biographical Sketch of
Dr. Harris Elliot Kirk

Great Grandson of Elisha White & Catherine Jane Walker

Mary White(1831-1878), daughter of Elisha and Catherine White, and her husband, Edmund McCord, whom she married August 8, 1847, had a grandson who became a famous preacher. The McCords had two children, Harry and Kate. Harry died of consumption after being educated as a civil engineer. The McCords resided in Pulaski where mother and daughter attended the Presbyterian Church and became members in 1868. Kate met and married a fellow church member John H. Kirk who had originally lived in Huntsville, Alabama. This couple had one son, Harris Elliot Kirk born on October 12, 1872, in Pulaski and baptized there in the Presbyterian Church. This young man became a famous preacher and moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the United States.

The Kirks moved to Nashville in 1875, where Kate died the following year. The father went to Denver leaving his small son, Harris Elliot to live with his McCord grandparents. When Mary White McCord died, young Harris was sent to his great Uncle Thomas White at Cambbell Station. Some ten years later, the father, John H. Kirk returned for a visit and while there met and married Thomas' daughter Martha, both wives being granddaughters of Elisha and Catherine.

Harris Elliot Kirk was graduated from Southwestern Presbyterian University in Memphis in 1897. He received his Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Laws Degree from Southwestern and a second LLD from Davidson College in North Carolina. The same year he was graduated from Southwestern, he was ordained as a minister in the Southern Presbyterian Church and was called to his first church pastorate at the Cottage Church in Nashville. From there, he went to the First Presbyterian Church in Florence Alabama, and in 1901, to the Franklin Presbyterian Church in Baltimore where he remained until his death in 1953. In 1925, he declined a call to the pulpit of what was considered the largest, most wealthy, and most influential Presbyterian Church in the East, the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church of New York City. His decision shocked New York as much as it delighted Baltimore.

Dr. Kirk was moderator of the Synod of Virginia in 1911, and was elected moderator of the Southern Presbyterian Church's General Assembly in 1928. He was a widely known author and lecturer on religion and his lecturing assignments brought him to major colleges and universities throughout the east, south, and southwest. Dr. Kirk who had been suffering from a heart ailment, succumbed while taking a nap at the age of 81.

Submitted by: Janet Ferris
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