In performing the arduous labors of the general medical practitioner, Dr. Leonidas Kirby has been very conscientious in the discharge of his professional duties, is well up to the times in medical lore, and has the intelligence to properly apply his knowledge. As evidence of his skill and ability to adapt himself to circumstances, when he first commenced the practice of medicine, a child of G. J. Howells accidentally got a grain of corn in its windpipe and was in a dying condition from the same. Dr. Kirby met the father with his child in the street and performed the operation of cutting open the windpipe (tracheotomy), thus saving the child’s life. He has become one of the foremost practitioners of the State, and the people of Boone County, Arkansas, are fortunate in having him as a citizen of their section. The Doctor was born on the Greene and Polk County, Missouri, line December 1, 1850, the eldest child of B. F. and Serena (Bender) Kirby, the former of whom was born in Warren County, Kentucky, about 1828, a son of Tully C. and Nancy C. (Harrington) Kirby.
The grandfather was also born in Warren County, November 11, 1802, his parents having been Jesse and Sophia (Choice) Kirby, the former being a Virginian and a son of David and Elizabeth (Torrent) Kirby, Virginians also. The founder of the family came from England and settled in Virginia long before the Revolution. He had three sons, David, Henry and Frank, the first mentioned of whom married in Virginia and became the head of the branch of the Kirby family to which the Doctor belongs. Several members of the family served in the Colonial Army during the Revolution, also in the War of 1812, John and Isaiah Kirby taking part in the last-mentioned struggle. The Kirbys located in Kentucky in 1795, where they accumulated a competence as farmers. Tully C. Kirby was one of the early pioneers of Dade County, Missouri (1840), and there passed from life in 1889, a well-to-do tiller of the soil. He was first an Old Line Whig in politics, afterward became a Republican, and during the great Civil War was a consistent Union man. He had a natural taste for medicine and often cared for the sick in his neighborhood without charges. He reared the following children: Benjamin F., Choice, John, James, Elizabeth, Jesse, Lucinda, Tully, Nancy and Fred. He and his wife were members of the Baptist Church, and her death occurred at about the same time as his own. B. F. Kirby, the Doctor’s father, was a lad when brought to Missouri, and the common schools afforded him an education. With his brother Choice he enlisted in the Mexican War under Gen. Phil Kearney, and was in several engagements. After his return home he married and took up the study of medicine with his wife’s father, Dr. Samuel Bender, and in 1854 graduated from the old McDowell College of Medicine in St. Louis, after which he began practicing at Dadeville, Missouri, a calling he successfully followed until his death, in 1858. In politics he was a Whig, became a leader in the affairs of his section, was a warm patron of education and helped to establish the first school in his town, temperance movements also receiving hearty support from him.
Dr. Samuel Bender, the maternal grandfather of the Doctor, was born in Maryland in 1795, a son of Henry Bender, who was born in Germany and who came to the United States about 1785. The family afterward moved from Maryland to Pennsylvania, thence in 1818 to Madison, Indiana, and there, in 1820, Dr. Bender married Miss Mary A. Dawes, a native of Boston, a daughterof Caleb and Susan Dawes, who came to this country from England in 1778 and settled first in New York and later in Boston. Dr. Bender was by trade a carpenter, was a skillful workman, and built the first winding stairs west of the Alleghany Mountains. He fitted himself for the practice of medicine in the Medical Department of the Transylvania University, did his first work in this line in Tennessee, and in 1841 became a resident of Dade County, Missouri, and eventually one of the most successful physicians of that section, his services being called into requisition for many miles around. He died in 1867, having first been a Whig and later a Republican in politics. He was a surgeon in the Union Army for a short time during the war, was a member of the Christian Church and an active worker in the same. He reared the following children: Samuel, Selina, Clay, Serena, Ormal, Cerella, Oscar and Anneta. After the death of F. B. Kirby, his widow made her home with her brother, H. C. Bender, and there she was married in 1861 to Allen Scott, and died in Jasper County, Missouri, in 1887, a worthy member of the Christian Church. To her first marriage three children were born: Dr. L.; Loretta, wife of J. O. Nicholson, of Harrison, Arkansas; and an infant that died unnamed. The second marriage resulted in the birth of three children: Clarence L., Benjamin and Izora M.
The boyhood days of Dr. Kirby were spent on a farm, and at the age of six years he entered the common schools, which he continued to attend up to 1867, with the exception of a considerable portion of the time during the war. He made his home with his step-father up to 1867, then went to Greenfield, Missouri, to make his home with his grandfather Bender, but the death of the latter occurred one year later, and he then went to Mound City, Kan., and lived with an uncle, Dr. O. C. Bender, who was a graduate of Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, Pa. He attended the public schools of Mound City and worked in a drug store, the while studying medicine, of which he finally took full charge and conducted the same successfully up to 1869, at which time he moved to Pleasanton, where he continued to conduct a drug store. In 1870 he returned to Dade County, Missouri, and having commenced the study of medicine in 1868, he began practicing in Boone County in April, 1871, and here has since made his home. He graduated from the St. Louis Medical College in 1876, and he has since become one of the most prominent medical men of the State. He is a member of the State Medical Society, the Boone County Medical Association, and throughout life he has been an active and leading Republican politically.
He was married in Harrison to Miss R. V. Crump, a daughter of Beverly Crump, of Virginia, and to the Doctor and his worthy wife the following children were born: Royal (deceased), Nora, Frank, Leonidas, Leander B., Hodgen H. and Alexander C. Dr. Kirby and his wife are members of the Christian Church and they stand high in the social circles of Boone County, as does he also in medical circles. He has practiced in all the counties of northern Arkansas, and has been very successful in the noble art of healing, and at the present time has by far the largest practice of any physician in the county. He has always taken much interest in education, and all material and moral interests of the country.