Biography of Frederick D. Kilburn
Franklin County, NY Biographies





Frederick D. Kilburn, born in Clinton county, July 25, 1850, came to Fort Covington with his parents in 1859. It is told of one of his long ago ancestors that, having lost an axe through the ice on a pond, he unhesitatingly followed it into the water, and recovered it. True or false, the reported incident is characteristic of the subject of this sketch, for what he wanted he always went after with determination, and usually found. Thrown upon his own resources at an early age, he worked for his edlucation, and in early manhood was an admitted and well equipped attorney at law, building up an excellent business. But in 1885 he abandoned practice to become the vice president and active manager of the then newly organized Peoples National Bank of Malone, in which relation he continued for nearly eleven years, gaining invaluable personal experience and making the hank a pronounced success. Both before and during this service Mr. Kilburn was conspicuousiy active as a Republican worker and leader, and for a number of years was the unquestioned head of the party organization in Franklin county. He was in turn town clerk, clerk of the board of supervisors, and county treasurer for six years. In 1891 in a memorable judicial convention deadlock, the delegates turned spontaneously to Mr. Kilburn as the one man who could resolve all conflicting interests, and unanimously offered him the nomination, equivalent to election, for justice of the supreme court; but having been out of active practice for several years, he doubted his qualifications for the office, and declined the honor. In 1892 he was elected to the State Senate by the district composed of Washington, Warren, Essex, Clinton and Franklin counties, the largest in area and with the greatest population in the State and, though without previous legislative experience and serving in a body of exceptionally strong men, Qommanded immediate consideration by his older colleagues, and quick admission into their most intimate councils. In January, 1896, Mr. Kilburn was appointed State superintendent of banks, and was successively reappointed by three Governors, holding the office until 1907, when he resigned with a record for thoroughness and efficiency of administration which was recognized and admired by all of the banking interests of the State, and which brought him from time to time most tempting offers to associate himself with large banks or trust companies. His service as State superintendent of banks compelled his retirement from the active management of his home bank, and after 1907 Mr. Kilbourn had no confining business occupation except during the years when he was the head of the Malone Light and Power Company, in which he sold his stock and interest in 1914. But he was nevertheless far from idle during this period, since his qualifications for leadership and executive management, with the possession of the energy which forces action and cooperation by others, were so generally recognized that whenever any local project of public consequence seemed to call for unusual effort and care, he was drafted by the compelling will of his townsmen to take the lead and cany the purpose to consummation. A ready and forceful speaker, and always in earnest, he was often made the spokesman at public meetings of community sentiment on large questions of a non partisan character, and was also the most popular and effective Republican campaigner in the county. For a matter of a third of a century Mr. Kilburn was more closely and helpfully identified than any other single citizen with large movements that looked to the betterment of Malone, having been a leader in the reorganization of the waterworks company that made Horse brook its principal source of supply; untiring in aiding to raise the bonus which Dr. Webb required in consideration of bringing the Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railway here; and a principal factor in giving the town an adequate and high class electric and gas lighting plant. Then he became the head of the home defense organization for Franklin county, and gave practically all of his time to patriotic work. In a word, Mr. Kilburn was the county's foremost figure in every large local undertaking which appealed to public spirit, and had for its aim advancement of the general welfare and patriotic endeavor; and was the most capable and strongest all around man in Northern New York. He died December 2, 1917, broken down by the war work that he performed.

From:
Historical Sketches of Franklin County
and its several towns.
By: Frederick J. Seaver Malone, New York.
J. B. Lyon Company, Printers Albany, NY 1918.


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