Biography of John Shackford Kimball

John Shackford Kimball was an enterprising lawyer of Boston and a business man of Burlington, Ia. A son of David and Abigail (Perkins) Kimball, Pembroke, N.H., April 28, 1812. His descent from Michael Kimball, who married Bettie Runnells, came through David Kimball of the second generation and David Kimball of the third, who married Abigail Perkins. The fifth generation is now represented by John Stevens Kimball. Mr. Kimball’s parents died at Pembroke when he was thirteen years old, leaving nine children-Betsey, Asa, Perkins, John Shackford, Abigail, Sarah Towle (widow of Timothy Colby, of Concord ), Joseph, Mary Lewis (widow of Samuel B. Wright, of Burlington, Ia. ), and Harriet. Of these Sarah and Mary are living. Mary, who was about five years old at the death of her parents, subsequently lived in the family made famous at that time by the noted Prescott murder. Perkins, after spending some time in the printing business, was later employed in the Boston custom-house, and then kept a store in partnership with J. Frank Hoyt in Concord. On retiring from business, he returned to Hopkinton, and died there December 15, 1876. He first married Lydia Reed Wilde, of Boston, a sister of Joseph Wilde, of the well-known firm of Lawrence, Wilde & Co., furniture dealers, Cornhill, Boston. His second marriage was made with Savalla Mason, of Grafton, N.H., who survived him with one daughter, Sarah Underwood Kimball. Mother and daughter are now residents of Hopkinton, the latter being the present librarian of the Hopkinton Free Library.

When a young man, John Shackford Kimball went to Concord and worked in a bakery. Afterward he entered Hill & Sherburne’s printing-office, and there learned book and job printing. While yet new in this occupation, he gained considerable fame as a card printer by the introduction of enamel work. In his school life at New Hampton, N.H., he was an associate of the Hon. John Wentworth, and was one of the founders of the Social Fraternity Library. He was clerk in the old Franklin book store in Concord for a time, and was associated in the printing business with his brother Perkins.

From Concord he went to New Haven, Conn. Later he was for three years a night clerk in the post-office at Portland, Me. While there he read law with District Attorney Haynes. Afterward he took the law course at Harvard College, and was associated in practice with the noted Robert S. Rantoul, of Boston. In 1838 he went to Burlington, Ia., where his youngest brother, Joseph, was conducting a general store in company with Nathaniel Chase from Warner, N.H. Mr. Chase soon dying, Mr. Kimball bought out the latter’s interest in the business; and he and Joseph were partners till the latter’s death. The firm then became J. S. Kimball & Co., the company being his brother-in-law, S. B. Wright, whose wife still resides there. Shortly after starting the business, prompted to the step by his failing health, he retired from the legal profession, and came East in the capacity of buyer for the firm. The sales of the firm in the course of time increased from eight or nine thousand dollars a year to more than one million dollars, this being the largest business of the kind in the State. In 1863 the business cleared above all expenses one hundred and ten thousand dollars upon an investment of three hundred thousand dollars. In 1864 quarters were secured in Chicago, but owing to Mr. Kimball’s ill health nothing was done there. He, however, outlived all the partners he ever had except Mr. Wyman, formerly a clerk of the firm, and Erastus Chamberlain, who was sent to the firm from Massachusetts. The former is now the head of the great firm of Wyman, Rand & Co. In 1866 Mr. Kimball sold out to William Bell, a Scotchman, and retired from the business. In 1854 he purchased a summer residence at Hopkinton, which has since become his permanent home; but his business interests were still with the Burlington firm. He spent much time in Boston, especially during the winter. Another of his associates in the law business was General N. P. Banks, who had been one of his fellow-students. His services in the legislature were mainly on the Judiciary and Banking Committees. He was an able, persistent, and forcible speaker. He was a careful student, was well read in history, and had attained considerable knowledge of German, so that in his later life he was able to undertake translations from the German. He paid a bounty to the first ten men who enlisted in Hopkinton, besides advancing the money for the State bounty.

Mr. Kimball married Mary E. Stevens, daughter of Dr. John Stevens, of Goffstown, N.H., afterward a noted physician of Charlestown and Boston. She was brought up in Boston and was married there. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Kimball are: John Stevens, Robert Rantoul, George Alexander, Mary Grace, and Kate Pearl. Both daughters are unmarried and reside with their mother in Hopkinton. Mr. Kimball contributed liberally to all the churches, while he had no professed creed. He did much to assist in local developments, and was most active in all progressive movements. His burial-place is in Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston, Mass.



Biographical Review Publishing Company. Biographical Review; containing life sketches of leading citizens of Merrimack and Sullivan counties, N. H. Boston. Biographical Review Publishing Company. 1897.

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