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The Pioneering Life of Peter Kirk
From Derbyshire to the Pacific Northwest
by Saundra Middleton View author's profile page

Overview


Peter Kirk's integrated iron and steel works in Workington, England was a leader in Britain's iron industry until that country's market share yielded to America's burgeoning steel industry. In 1886, Kirk sailed to North America on a mission to remedy the impact on his ironworks. His luggage contained top hat, coat tails and gold coin. He tucked in his Derbyshire family's century-old expertise in iron production that rode the wave of the Industrial Revolution, which he built on with his ingenuity and inventions. He filled another chest with quiet audacity and steadfast perseverance. However, he also carried the baggage of family rivalries and the propensity for those named "Peter" to leave the family business. In his pocket, Peter Kirk carried a dream.

Once in America, he found the immigrant laws were stacked against "his kind" and so enlisted the aid of someone who quite possibly was a scoundrel. Even that was not enough to battle the boardroom politics of railroad competitions, demanding mining companies, frontier town rivalries, unexpected disasters, and America's greatest recession. Even so, he paid the woodcutters to carve out an outpost for his new steelworks from the dense and wild forests of Washington Territory. Alas, the dream failed, his money--lost, his expertise questioned, and his audacity tested. His perseverance and foresight, however, won Peter Kirk a new dream in his namesake town of Kirkland, Washington.

Read more

Description


Some might describe Peter Kirk's story as one of riches to rags, but it is more like, top hat and tails to smart casual. This biography begins with a short introduction to the English iron mogul and how he arrived in Seattle, Washington Territory in 1886. It explains his family's 100-year history in the iron industry, riding the wave of success during the Industrial Revolution through Britain's successful Victorian era rail expansion. Transferring that legacy down the generations did not always go smoothly. Family curses, rivalries, and a propensity for those named "Peter" to leave the security of the family business catapulted Peter out of the Derbyshire (county) valley where his Kirk family had lived for 600 years.

The story follows his early business successes in Workington (Cumbria county), often facilitated by Peter Kirk's inventions in creating efficiency in the iron-producing process and new products in a competitive market. Britain's status as the world's top iron producer was yielding to America's burgeoning growth. Kirk had to branch out in the New World to keep his ironworks solvent and his 1000 employees working.

He traveled to the American continent on a fact-finding mission and discovered Washington Territory had resources and opportunity to build a new steel works. Confronted with hurdles like land laws prejudiced against immigrants, demanding mining companies, railroad and frontier town competition, insufficient cash flow, and the worst recession in American history, Kirk struggled to accomplish his greatest dream. However, he did not give up on Kirkland, the little town he carved out of the Pacific Northwest forests.

Away from the engineer's desk and out of the boardroom, Kirk was an accomplished musician and devoted family man. Unusual for the Victorian era, his wife, Mary Ann, partnered with him in some of his business dealings. But troubles hit on the family front as well. Children died prematurely; scandal threatened his family's status; Mary Ann returned to England. This book is a journey of generations, across continents, through life's upheavals, celebrating successes, and adjusting to changing times and cultures.

Read more

About the author


Raised in Sitka, Alaska, Saundra Middleton was lured away to the Pacific Northwest when she heard its annual rainfall was only 37 inches a year. Once there, she discovered the rich history of her pioneering ancestors. After a few years, she returned to Alaska, finished her English degree, and added two daughters to her genealogical pool. She dabbled in journalism publishing dozens of articles in Alaska Magazine and Alaska Business Monthly, and other publications. As time allowed, Saundra delved into the bottomless pit of family research. She compiled several scrapbook-style books for family and friends. Combining her love of writing, history, and genealogy, Saundra was recognized for her short story Of Donkeys, Mules, & Plains Ponies in a 2015 writing contest sponsored by the Kent Family History Society in England. But one figure stood out in her research: Peter Kirk--a Victorian era steel tycoon, inventor, and town-builder. She had to write his story.

Read more

Book details

Genre:BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Subgenre:Historical

Language:English

Pages:318

Format:Paperback

eBook ISBN:9781098370923

Paperback ISBN:9781098370916


Overview


Peter Kirk's integrated iron and steel works in Workington, England was a leader in Britain's iron industry until that country's market share yielded to America's burgeoning steel industry. In 1886, Kirk sailed to North America on a mission to remedy the impact on his ironworks. His luggage contained top hat, coat tails and gold coin. He tucked in his Derbyshire family's century-old expertise in iron production that rode the wave of the Industrial Revolution, which he built on with his ingenuity and inventions. He filled another chest with quiet audacity and steadfast perseverance. However, he also carried the baggage of family rivalries and the propensity for those named "Peter" to leave the family business. In his pocket, Peter Kirk carried a dream.

Once in America, he found the immigrant laws were stacked against "his kind" and so enlisted the aid of someone who quite possibly was a scoundrel. Even that was not enough to battle the boardroom politics of railroad competitions, demanding mining companies, frontier town rivalries, unexpected disasters, and America's greatest recession. Even so, he paid the woodcutters to carve out an outpost for his new steelworks from the dense and wild forests of Washington Territory. Alas, the dream failed, his money--lost, his expertise questioned, and his audacity tested. His perseverance and foresight, however, won Peter Kirk a new dream in his namesake town of Kirkland, Washington.

Read more

Description


Some might describe Peter Kirk's story as one of riches to rags, but it is more like, top hat and tails to smart casual. This biography begins with a short introduction to the English iron mogul and how he arrived in Seattle, Washington Territory in 1886. It explains his family's 100-year history in the iron industry, riding the wave of success during the Industrial Revolution through Britain's successful Victorian era rail expansion. Transferring that legacy down the generations did not always go smoothly. Family curses, rivalries, and a propensity for those named "Peter" to leave the security of the family business catapulted Peter out of the Derbyshire (county) valley where his Kirk family had lived for 600 years.

The story follows his early business successes in Workington (Cumbria county), often facilitated by Peter Kirk's inventions in creating efficiency in the iron-producing process and new products in a competitive market. Britain's status as the world's top iron producer was yielding to America's burgeoning growth. Kirk had to branch out in the New World to keep his ironworks solvent and his 1000 employees working.

He traveled to the American continent on a fact-finding mission and discovered Washington Territory had resources and opportunity to build a new steel works. Confronted with hurdles like land laws prejudiced against immigrants, demanding mining companies, railroad and frontier town competition, insufficient cash flow, and the worst recession in American history, Kirk struggled to accomplish his greatest dream. However, he did not give up on Kirkland, the little town he carved out of the Pacific Northwest forests.

Away from the engineer's desk and out of the boardroom, Kirk was an accomplished musician and devoted family man. Unusual for the Victorian era, his wife, Mary Ann, partnered with him in some of his business dealings. But troubles hit on the family front as well. Children died prematurely; scandal threatened his family's status; Mary Ann returned to England. This book is a journey of generations, across continents, through life's upheavals, celebrating successes, and adjusting to changing times and cultures.

Read more

About the author


Raised in Sitka, Alaska, Saundra Middleton was lured away to the Pacific Northwest when she heard its annual rainfall was only 37 inches a year. Once there, she discovered the rich history of her pioneering ancestors. After a few years, she returned to Alaska, finished her English degree, and added two daughters to her genealogical pool. She dabbled in journalism publishing dozens of articles in Alaska Magazine and Alaska Business Monthly, and other publications. As time allowed, Saundra delved into the bottomless pit of family research. She compiled several scrapbook-style books for family and friends. Combining her love of writing, history, and genealogy, Saundra was recognized for her short story Of Donkeys, Mules, & Plains Ponies in a 2015 writing contest sponsored by the Kent Family History Society in England. But one figure stood out in her research: Peter Kirk--a Victorian era steel tycoon, inventor, and town-builder. She had to write his story.

Read more


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