Volume 2, Number 4, Summer 1965
My grandparents, Richard Kilby and Mercy Marshall, were married in Westburg, England, on March 11, 1871. On that same day Richard Kilby sailed to America to seek his fortune. One year later his wife followed him to the adventurous new country, just as they had planned. My grandmother has often spoken of this dangerous voyage, but America was calling and she must go to her husband.
To this union were born eight children. The first two girls were born at Narvoo, Ill. Their names were Florence Mary Elizabeth Kilby, and, my own mother, Ellen Eliza Nellie Kilby. The other six children were born in Chanute, Kan. Their names were: Emily Ida Kilby, Rosie May Kilby, Lillie Bell Kilby, John William Kilby, Violet Pearl Kilby, and Alice Leorah Kilby. Just one boy, who now resides at Forsyth. Two of the girls are yet living, Violet Kilby Lamb lives at Purcell, Okla., and Alice Kilby Creech lives at Joplin.
Grandfather Kilby had one brother, who later came to America and made his home with my grandparents. His name was John Kilby. He helped his brother for several years in the nursery business. Grandfather Kilby had served his apprenticeship as a nurseryman before coming to America.
Moving from Illinois, my grandfather first settled on a farm near Chanute, but kept reading everything he could find on the Ozark Mountain area. He was concerned about raising fruit. He read about the land of the big red apple, which was the Missouri Ozarks.
Grandfather Kilby went first alone to look the country over. He was well pleased with the Missouri Ozarks. He hurried back to Kansas, and prepared to move his family to the beautiful hill country.
The Kilby family moved to Taney County in the year of 1892. They first settled on a farm just south of Taneyville. Just before reaching their destination, they passed the Helprey Cemetery, located north of Taneyville. On that same day, they were burying a deputy sheriff by the name of Williams. The Baldknobbers had killed the deputy while he was trying to protect a prisoner in the Forsyth jail. The prisoner had killed a woman. The deputy was quoted as saying, "You will take the prisoner over my dead body." After the deputy was killed, the prisoner was taken from the jail and hung. This was often called a "neck tie party."
The first farm where the Kilby family moved to is where the two Taylor brothers were buried. They, too, were hung by the Baldknobbers.
Grandfather soon bought a place in Taney City. There he started a nursery.
Grandfather began grafting fruit trees. He sold fruit trees and nursery stock. He also raised different varieties of small fruit for the market. To my knowledge, he was the first man that induced people to grow fruit in this part of the country. Some can remember orchards that sprung from his nursery. The Ingram orchard was the largest in the county, and that is where the writer lives at this time.
To grandfathers delight, he found that not only peaches and apples thrived in the Ozarks, but also that small fruit did very well; that is, such fruits as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and other kinds. Grandfathers dream of the Big Red Apple had come true. There was only one drawback, the market was not good.
His son, John Kilby, helped his father with the nursery, and helped peddle the fruit that was raised on the small acreage. Some remain that can remember how they would peddle their fruit in Forsyth. A hack and a span of mules were used to make the deliveries. The strawberries he grafted were delicious. Nowhere in this great land of ours, can the flavor of the fruit grown in Arkansas and Missouri be excelled.
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