Biography of Mortimer Kilbury

Mortimer Kilbury of St. Joseph is an old-time resident of Champaign County, having been identified with the cultivation of its soil and the management of increasing burdens of business and public life for over forty years.

Mr. Kilbury was born at Darby Plains, Ohio, a son of Asa G. and Ruth (Clark) Kilbury. The Kilbury family were Colonial settlers in Vermont. They started West about the time of the beginning of western migration in the early part of the nineteenth century. They drove to Ohio in covered wagons. There were two brothers making this journey, one of them the father of Asa Kilbury. One morning after breaking up their night camp one of the brothers hitched up and started on ahead, driving along until he came to a fork in the roads, where he took one route. His brother followed him somewhat later, and after making a careful examination decided that his brother had taken the road to the right, whereas, as a matter of fact, it was the left road. He drove on, and, thus separated, they continued their journeys and never met again.

Asa G. Kilbury was born June 24, 1806. He grew up in Ohio, and when he started out for himself he gave his father all the money he possessed, reserving only $1 as a luck piece. He settled at Darby Plains, Ohio, where he married Ruth Clark and as farmers they acquired a large amount of property. Asa Kilbury died January 5, 1884, and his wife, who was born February 27, 1815, died September 20, 1885. They were the parents of six sons and three daughters.

Mortimer Kilbury received his early education in Ohio and came to Champaign County in the spring of 1873, when a young man, locating in section 31 of Ogden Township. Here he and his brother James S. worked land which had been previously bought by their father from the Government at $1.25 an acre. It was an extensive tract and the two brothers did much to improve it and make a fine farm of the land.

On September 23, 1877, Mortimer Kilbury laid the foundation of his own home by his marriage to Mary Louise Frederick, who was born in Vermilion County, near Fithian, Illinois. Her parents were Richard A. and Parmelia (Allhands) Frederick. Mrs. Kilbury with her brothers and sisters attended the Central district school. She was one of a family of four sons and five daughters.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Kilbury located on the farm where Mr. Kilbury had been previously employed, and they continued to reside there for a number of years and laid the foundation of their permanent prosperity. After the death of Mr. Kilbury’s father in 1884 the son inherited a part of the land and gradually he expanded the scope of his holdings and his operations as a farmer and stockman.

To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Kilbury were born six children, named Asa, Edna, Fred, Mabel, Winifred and Jeannette. Mr. and Mrs. Kilbury have devoted themselves to the proper rearing and training of their children. They sent them to the district schools and also to the St. Joseph High School, all of them graduating from high school. The sons were students in the University of Illinois and one of the daughters, Mabel, attended Northwestern University at Evanston. Winifred was a student in the Champaign High School and also the Academy at Evanston. The daughter Jeannette was graduated with honors from the Urbana High School with the class of 1917, having taken all her four years’ work in that school and having gone back and forth from home to school on the interurban car morning and evening, rain or shine. She is now teaching the Shilo school.

The son Fred Kilbury is a farmer of St. Joseph Township and married Inez Mullen. The son Asa, a resident of St. Joseph, married Edna Norris of Frankfort, Indiana, and they have a son, Winston N., a manly youth, now numbered among the bright and promising students of the St. Joseph High School. The daughter Winifred married Raymond Jones, an architect practicing his profession at Danville, and they have two sons, Robert Kilbury and Raymond Grant. The daughter Edna died at the age of eight and a half months. The daughter Mabel, whose death in 1914 was a heavy loss to the family and her many friends, while a student in college, met Rev. Arthur A. Halter, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and they were afterwards married and she left a daughter, Mabel Rachel. Mrs. Halter was a fine Christian character, active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a large community of friends felt that in her loss the old saying that death loves a shining mark was again corroborated.

For many years Mr. Kilbury has found himself profitably and pleasantly engaged in the varied pursuits of farming and stock husbandry. A number of years ago he established a herd of Shorthorn cattle and exhibitors at county and state fairs have long known his prize winning stock. He has been awarded numerous premiums, and he produced one fine steer that weighed 2,380 pounds.

A number of years ago Mr. Kilbury bought 130 acres of land adjacent to the village of St. Joseph and at the end of North Main Street erected a commodious and attractive residence, where the family have long had their home. This house, which combines the advantages of both town and country, has been greatly beautified in its surroundings by the planting of fruit and shade trees and careful cultivation with a view to adornment and utility. Mr. and Mrs. Kilbury are attentive members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at St. Joseph and he has served as a trustee of the church. One of his first important efforts in behalf of community improvement was to secure a division of the school district and he donated land from his own place as a school site. He has been elected to and has served in some of those offices which are a mark of public confidence and esteem and are an opportunity for much hard and conscientious work with no remuneration. He has served as school director, and is a stanch Republican in politics. He grew to young manhood when the Republican party was in its prime and the vitality it showed in grasping and solving many great national problems inspired a confidence which has caused him to keep firmly aligned within the party ranks. Fraternally he is a Knight Templar Mason and Shriner and his wife is a member of the Eastern Star. Mrs. Kilbury has served as associate matron and at present is treasurer of the Eastern Star. She is active in the Woman’s Club of St. Joseph and in the Foreign Missionary Society of her church. Mr. Kilbury has been fortunate in having a good wife to stand by his side forty years, aiding him in counsel and advice, and carefully looking after the rearing of their family and the making of their home.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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