Bernard King, the first-born child of James King and Catherine Eggleston, was baptized in the Roman Catholic Parish of Bohermeen, County Meath, Ireland, on 18 September 1840. His father was a tenant farmer.

The family, now consisting of James, Catherine, Bernard, daughters Margaret and Mary, and son John, departed for the United States from Liverpool, England, and arrived on 2 August 1849 aboard the bark, Margaret, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The family made their way up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and found a home in Marshall, Saline County, Missouri. They were enumerated in the 1850 federal census and had added another household member, Thomas, by that time.

Bernard King is found steadily in the St. Louis city directories after 1863. He held various jobs in those early years, such as riverman, drayman, and policeman until 1872 when he became a pipeman for the fire department. He worked as a fireman at Engine House #10 until his retirement in 1911. During those years, he also used a variety of first names: Bernard, the name given at baptism and on the official fire department records; Barney, the nickname, sometimes found in the city directories and newspapers; and Bryan is used on some census records and church records including his marriage and the baptism of his children.

In April 1872, Bryan King married Margaret Brown, the Ireland-born daughter of Patrick Brown and Margaret Rossiter, at St. Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Church in St. Louis. In March of 1873, their first child, James, was born. He was the first of eleven children; the others included: Margaret (King) Syrett, Catherine King, Mary Mayme (King) Gillespie, Loretta (King) Eagan, Jennie (King) Crosby, William King, Elizabeth (King) Crosby, Agnes (King) Walton Hogan Murphy, Berniece (King) Stoll, and Richard King. All the children lived to adulthood. The majority of Bryan’s children were baptized at St. Malachy Catholic Church.

Bernard King
Bernard “Barney/Bryan” King
Photo in the collection of Kay Weber
Used with permission

On 3 January 1910, the St. Louis Star Times published an article about Barney King after there had been a great fire in St. Louis. The article includes a photograph of Bernard King and his eleven children. In the article, Bernard recalls some of the hardships in fighting fires in the wintertime in St. Louis.

In early 1911, Margaret, his wife, died and later that year Bernard retired from the fire department. On 11 November 1918 he died and was buried at Calvary Cemetery with his wife and many of his children.

(Sources used include census, church records for marriages and baptisms, death certificates, and newspaper articles.)

Written by Kay Weber
June 2017

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Last Modified: 25-Oct-2018 21:21