Found in The Adair County News, Tuesday, November 28, 1950, page one. (Published a day early because of Thanksgiving.)



Temporary Insanity Due To Ill Health Thought Cause of Horrible Tragedy


The suicide of H.R. Kirk, superintendent of the Columbia Schools, early Tuesday morning [November 21] only a few hours after he had killed his wife, Mrs. Claudia Bandy Kirk, at their home on Burkesville Street is perhaps the worst tragedy in the annuals [sic] of this city and has proven a severe shock to every citizen.

Mr. Kirk had been in ill health for several months and associates said he had not been himself recently. One of Columbia's most respected citizens and a devoted husband, it is the general consensus that he committed the deeds after becoming mentally deranged.

The school superintendent was found by Miss Mary Lucy Lowe, principal of the Columbia High School, at about 8:30 a.m. in a closet which opens into a supply room adjacent to his private office. He way lying on the floor and beside him was a half‑gallon jar of sulphuric acid and a razor. It was evident that he had consumed a quantity of the acid and was near death. Several doctors were summoned and he was taken to the office of Dr. J.W. Flowers where he died within a few minutes.

In the meantime attempts to locate Mrs. Kirk, who often did her marketing in the early morning, had been unsuccessful. Friends and neighbors entered their residence but no one had made a thorough search thinking she was out. Finally Charlie Clift, local undertaker, went into the bedroom, which Mr. and Mrs. Kirk occupied, and found her dead in bed as the result of hammer blows to the head. The hammer was lying nearby but there was no evidence of a struggle which indicated she was killed while sleeping. Medical authorities said that she had been dead about four hours.

When found dying, Mr. Kirk was attired in his pajamas and coverall which indicated he left the residence immediately after the crime and went to his office in the High School building, which is only two blocks away, with the immediate intent of taking his own life.

Kirk, a native of Daviess County, Ky., came to Columbia in 1944 after having served as superintendent of the schools in LaGrange, Ky., for eighteen years. He was a graduate of the University of Kentucky and received his M.A. Degree from Peabody College, Nashville, Tenn. He took an active part in State educational circles and was a past president of  the K.E.A. He was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church; taught the Men's Bible Class; was Clerk of the Session and had served as president of the  Columbia Rotary Club. No more popular or respected couple than Mr. And Mrs. Kirk resided in Columbia.

They are survived by two daughters, Miss Margaret Ann Kirk, of Louisville, and Mrs. W.C. Crume, of St. Louis, Mo., and three grandchildren.


Both death certificates are nearly  illegible, but I managed to read this much:

Claudia Bandy Kirk, b. July 3, 1887 KY; parents Willie (or William) G‑‑‑‑ Bandy & ‑‑‑‑‑‑ St. Clair Kirk. Cause of death: Skull crushed ‑‑ (?)repeated blows ‑‑‑‑‑‑ (remainder is illegible.) Burial in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Breckinridge Co. KY. The document was signed by the Adair Co. Coroner (signature illegible).

Herschel R. Kirk, b. May 15, 18‑‑ KY; parents T‑‑‑‑‑‑ L‑‑‑‑‑ Kirk (may be Thomas Lymon or similar?) & ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ (mother's name completely illegible). Cause of death: sulphuric acid poisoning, self inflicted. "Lived 1/2 hour after (?)seeing him." Burial in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Breckinridge Co. KY. Document signed by Dr. W.J. Flowers.

Information from other sources:

*Their daughter "Mrs. W.C. Crume" was Jane St. Clair Kirk (Crume), born 1915; their daughter Margaret was six years younger.

* Charlie Clift was the husband of Eleanor Grissom Clift & the son-in-law of local undertaker M.L. Grissom (Grissom Funeral Home.)