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Biography of Hon. John Kimball, A.M.
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Hon. John Kimball, A.M., exmayor of Concord, N.H., a man of strong character, sterling worth, and more than ordinary ability, is held in high esteem by his fellow-citizens. He was born in Canterbury, N.H., April 13, 1821, a son of Benjamin and Ruth (Ames) Kimball. The Kimballs have been domiciled in New England for more than two hundred and sixty years, and have given to these States many intelligent and capable men and women. The first immigrants of the name, Henry and Richard Kimball, with their wives and children, fled from the religious persecutions of the Old World, and found freedom and prosperity in the new. Joseph Kimball, who was of the fifth generation in America, was the greatgrandfather of John Kimball. He was born in Exeter, N.H., and died in Canterbury.
John Kimball was apprenticed at the age of seventeen to his father’s cousin, William Moody Kimball, to learn the millwright’s trade; and, as he had a natural gift for mechanics, it was not long before he was a Suncook and Manchester, N.H., and Lowell and Lawrence, Mass. In 1848 he took charge of the new machine and car shops of the Concord Railroad in this city. In 1850 he was master mechanic; and he efficiently acted in that capacity for eight years, turning his attention then from mechanical to other pursuits. In the railroad service his practical skill and sound judgment were in constant requisition, and his training and experience there were afterward used to good account in behalf of the city and State. He gradually became interested in various financial and political enterprises, and as his ability became recognized greater responsibilities devolved upon him. Thousands of dollars were intrusted to him as guardian, trustee, administrator, and executor, and never was a trust betrayed or slighted; and, to quote from a local paper, “as Treasurer of the New Hampshire Bible Society, the New Hampshire Orphans’ Home, and various other such institutions, he has been trustworthy, painstaking, and just.” For twenty-six years he has been Treasurer of the Merrimack County Savings Bank. He has been for a number of years a Director of the Mechanics National Bank; and he has filled the office of President of the Concord Gas Light Company, of which he is now Treasurer. In 1880, when the Manchester & Keene Railroad was placed in the hands of the court, the late Chief Justice Doe appointed Mr. Kimball one of the Trustees.
Mr. Kimball’s father and grandfather were stanch Whigs; and he has followed the family traditions, giving his lifelong allegiance to the Republican party. He was for twenty-seven years Treasurer of the Republican State Committee. In 1856 he was elected to the Common Council of this city. In 1857 he was re-elected and chosen President of that body. In 1858 he was sent to the House of Representatives from Ward Five, where he has always made his home since he took up his residence in this city; and he was re-elected in 1859, and presided as Chairman of the Committee on State Prison. From 1859 to 1862 he was City Marshal and Tax Collector of Concord; and his administration was marked by “promptness, accuracy, and close devotion to the interests of the people.” In 1862 President Lincoln appointed him Collector of Internal Revenue for the Second District of New Hampshire, comprising Merrimack and Hillsborough Counties; and during the seven years he held the office he collected and paid to the Treasurer of the United States nearly seven million dollars. He was for eleven years Moderator of Ward Five, an impartial and clear-headed presiding officer; and for a number of years he served acceptably as moderator of the Union School District.
In 1872 through a popular movement he was elected Mayor of Concord. He was honored with re-election in 1873, 1874, and 1875, annual elections then being the law. Immediately after his installation as Mayor a severe freshet injured five of the seven wooden bridges over the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers. As superintendent of roads and bridges he repaired these structures in such a manner as to demonstrate his mechanical knowledge, replacing the insecure bridges by substantial structures that defy the wear and tear of time and travel. During his administration the water supply system from Penacook Lake was completed; and he was afterward elected one of the Water Commissioners, and served for fourteen years as President of the Board. While he was Mayor, also, the fire department was invested with new dignity by the city government, the central fire station and other Mayor Kimball. Blossom Hill Cemetery was doubled in size, the main thoroughfares of the city were graded and improved, and stone culverts replaced the primitive wooden ones which had served for years.
In 1876 Mr. Kimball was elected a member of the convention to revise the Constitution of the State, and served as Chairman of its Committee on Finance. In 1877 an appropriation was made by the legislature for a new State Prison; and upon the passage of the law, which was a carefully guarded one, Governor Benjamin F. Prescott, with the advice of his council, appointed Mr. Kimball, Albert M. Shaw, and Alfred J. Pillsbury commissioners to carry the law into effect. Mr. Kimball was chosen chairman of the board. Under these commissioners the present penitentiary was completed in the fall of 1880, every dollar appropriated being prudently and judiciously expended. In November, 1880, Mr. Kimball was elected to the State Senate from the Tenth Senatorial District; and when the Senate was organized, in June, 1881, he was chosen President. In this honorable position he presided with wisdom, dignity, and courtesy. He was chairman of the committee that built the high school, and he has rendered such services to the cause of popular education that one of the handsomest modern school-houses in Concord has been named in his honor the Kimball School. Mr. Kimball was honored with the degree of Master of Arts by Dartmouth College in 1884. He is a Director of the Republican Press Association of Concord.
On May 27, 1846, he was married to Maria H. Phillips, of Rupert, Vt., who died December 22, 1894. He has since married Miss Charlotte Atkinson, a lady of culture and refinement. His only child, a daughter-Clara Maria, born March 20, 1848 -was married June 4, 1873, to Augustine R. Ayers, of this city, and has several children.
In person Mr. Kimball is tall, erect, and remarkably well-preserved for a man of seventy-six. He is a total abstainer, and his modes of life are regular. He is firm and decided, with strong confidence in his own judgment; frank and downright, always giving right the precedence of policy; somewhat bluff in manner, but never discourteous; openhearted and free, kindly and sensitive. A careful reader, he is particularly fond of genealogical and historical research; and he speaks and writes with precision. Faithful in every relation of life, public and domestic, he is valued and loved by all. Mr. Kimball has travelled abroad, and is one of the most cultured men of the day. In 1843 he joined the Congregational church at his old home in Boscawen, N.H.; and for a great many years he has been a member of the South Congregational Church of Concord, contributing generously to its support.
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