Featured, Local History, The Centennial History of Hurricane

Centennial History of Hurricane (1994 Edition): Stewart Sims Kirtley

In 1988, The Centennial History of Hurricane, WV was published to commemorate the town’s 100th anniversary. In 1994, the Centennial Committee published a follow up book which included family histories which were not submitted in time for the 1988 Centennial History. This week’s selection is the 23rd history from The Centennial History of Hurricane WV Continued — 1994.


Stewart Sims Kirtley, called “Simi’ or “S.S.” by family and friends, was born on Charleys Creek Putnam County, West Virginia, 25 April, 1871. Following the deaths of his father and mother, C.J.S. and Maggie Kirtley, Sim and his brother continued to live in the household of their grandparents, Jeremiah S. and Mary Elizabeth Matthews Kirtley.

Prior to Jeremiah’s death in 1883, he deeded over his land (300 acres “more or less” on Charleys Creek) to his wife…and in 1887 Mary Elizabeth Matthews Kirtley deeded the land as follows:

1887 – To Stuart Sims Kirtley “North one-half and M. O’Kee Kirtley* of 300 acres
1887 – To C.L Harbour (Kate “South one-half” Kirtley Harbour) of 300 acres

To the grandsons, thereby, was deeded their father’s half of the family property; to her daughter Clarisse Lucinda Amanda (Kate) Kirtley Harbour, her rightful half of the property. Sim was at this time sixteen years old and Oak was twelve. Kate, her husband, Charles Harbour and their children were living in the family home, as well as the boys. Some friction arose between Sim and his Aunt Kate and Sim went to live with his grandmother’s brother, Uncle John Matthews.

When Sim reached twenty-one, he deeded over his portion of the property to Kate (in 1893) and, in due course, when Oak reached legal adulthood in 1896, he did the same. Family lore relates that “the boys” sold their birthright for a saddle and a feather bed!!

Sim married Lutilla Alice Roberts, the youngest daughter of Captain Jones Roberts by his second marriage to Matilda Rachel Rowsey Jimison, 1 February, 1894, in Culloden, Cabell County, West Virginia. He clerked at various stores in the Kanawha Valley and, eventually, Huntington. Children born to them were: Clairo Love (legally changed to Karl King) in 1894; Charles Roy Kirtley in 1896; Jewel Matthews Kirtley in 1901; and Gordon Stewart Kirtley in 1904.

The death of his brother, Oak, in 1910 was a terrible loss to Sim. He suffered from severe depression and died by his own hand 25 January, 1911. Alice Roberts Kirtley married Don Jamison in 1920, widowed in 1933. Affectionately known to her grandchildren as ‘Grandma J”, she was a much loved, devout Christian, who lived to be almost 90 years of age. (She, Sim and Oak are buried in the old Hurricane Cemetery, Hurricane, West Virginia).

*Mahlon Oak Kirtley (known as “Oak” or “Oakkie”)


Although there are no Kirtleys of this line presently living in Hurricane or Putnam County, the roots are deep. Each May the cousins from Ashland, Kentucky and Dandridge, Tennessee, Charles R. Kirtley, Jr. and Gordon S. Kirtley, Jr. – and their families’ journey “homeward”, to Hurricane, to decorate the known family graves and to continue the search for the old family burial site. Some twenty-three Kirtleys, including Joseph and Elizabeth, Jeremiah S. and Mary Elizabeth, C.J.S. and Maggie, repose somewhere along Charleys Creek or in the county, fondly remembered – ALL!

Please follow and like us: