There have been pioneers in Kansas, as elsewhere. Many of them have been pioneers in a general sense or in certain neighborhoods. A few have been the forerunners of civilization in a stricter sense. They were the first to locate within a larger radius round about their cabins and were long without permanent neighbors and were practically "old residents" by the time the country was generally settled. Nathaniel Kimberlin located in what is now Washington township, Brown county, Kansas, in April, 1855, before the section lines had been surveyed and when the boundaries of any claim were largely a matter of guessing. By common consent he is accorded the title of sole survivor of the "old timers."
The family of Kimberlin is of German origin. Three brothers named Daniel, Abram and John Kimberlin came to America from the fatherland at an early date, and from them are descended the somewhat numerous Kimberlins living in different parts of the United States at this time. John Kimberlin, grandfather of Nathaniel, was born in Virginia and spent most of his active life in Kentucky, but died at Golconda, Illinois. John Kimberlin, son of the John Kimberlin just mentioned and father of Nathaniel Kimberlin, was born in Henry county, Kentucky, in 1806, and was a cabinetmaker by trade. He died in 1888, aged about eighty-two years, at Alsee Mountain, Oregon. His wife was Missouri McClain, daughter of John McClain, who came of old Virginia stock. She died in 1860, having borne her husband children named as follows: Nathaniel; Elizabeth, who married James Haines and died at Lafayette, Oregon; Martha and Henry, both of whom are dead; James, who died at Portland, Oregon, leaving a family; Fannie, who is the wife of James Hegge and lives at Portland, Oregon; and Christopher, a resident of Hillsboro, Oregon.
Born in Henry county, Kentucky, August 22, 1826, Nathaniel Kimberlin was taken to Daviess county in his native state in 1836, when he was about ten years old, and there he was educated in subscription schools and brought up as a farmer's boy-of-all-work. He spent the years from 1849 to 1855 in Buchanan county, Missouri; then, in search of a claim, expecting to endure the hardships and trials incident to making a home in such a new and wild country, he came to Kansas. For forty-five years he has gone about his every-day duties in the neighborhood where he settled, compelling the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens. He has not amassed great wealth, but has been an intelligent, industrious and prosperous tiller of the soil.
Mr. Kimberlin has many interesting reminiscences of the pioneer days. Game was plentiful and was a help in providing the families of the pioneers with food. The Kickapoo and Potowatomie Indians, then concentrated at the old mission at Iowa Point, were roaming through that part of the county, usually to and from Oskalosa, but their presence caused the pioneers no trouble, for they were peaceably inclined. Not long after Mr. Kimberlin's location in Brown county they were removed to a distant reservation, and probably some of them never set eyes on their old hunting ground afterward. Later, especially during the War, white marauders were more troublesome. Bushwhackers and jayhawkers in turn levied tribute on the struggling farmers for sustenance. At one time Mr. Kimberlin and John Adams Johnson, his brother-in-law and neighbor, were informed that a so-called "committee" would look over their possessions with a view to ascertaining if the two farmers possessed anything that could be turned to use by the outlaws. It was a case in which "a word to the wise" was all sufficient. Messrs. Kimberlin and Johnson met the committee with a fusilade of bullets and the gang dispersed, leaving some of their horses, which they never afterward claimed, and splotches of blood on the scene of the affray which might have been spilled in a better cause.
Mr. Kimberlin cast his first presidential vote for the Democratic candidate of 1848. For some years he was clerk of the township board of Washington township. He is not a stickler for party allegiance in township or county affairs, preferring to choose local officials strictly on the personal merits of the candidates and their fitness for the responsibilities they would assume. His standing as a citizen is deservedly high and his public spirit, often put to the test, has always been found adequate to any demand upon it.
Mr. Kimberlin was married, in Daviess county, Kentucky, in 1848, to Elizabeth Johnson, a sister of John A. Johnson, of Everest, Brown county, Kansas. Mrs. Kimberlin died in 1865, leaving children named as follows: Leroy, of La Fayette, Oregon, who married Miranda Smith; Martha, wife of John Greer, of Brown county, Kansas; Elizabeth, who lives with her father; and Aurilla, wife of James Savage, of Brown county, Kansas. In 1872 Mr. Kimberlin returned to Daviess county, Kentucky, and married Mary Yewell, who died without issue in 1890.
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