It is with especial pleasure that we are enabled to review the career of Mr. Kirby, both because he has done commendable work in developing the reservation country and also because he is one of the pioneers of the northwest and crimes from one of the pioneer families.

Philip R. Kirby was born in Brown County, Minnesota, on September 8, 1866, being the son of Philip and Sarah M. (Back) Kirby. The father was born in Ohio on February 11, 1830, and his parents were born in Middletown, Connecticut, and for six or more generations back, the Kirby’s were a staunch and prominent family there, having taken part in the arduous labors of opening the land for the early colonies. They also furnished many brave soldiers for the wars of the Revolution and of 1812, while also many noted officers came from this family in these and the Indian wars. The father of our subject came to Michigan when a small boy and he has been on the frontier all his life. He now lives in Vineland, near Lewiston. The mother of our subject was born in Vermont and died on January 13, 1896, aged fifty-nine. Her demise occurred near Wilbur, Washington. She came from an old and prominent New England family.

In 1872, our subject came with his father to the land where Spokane now stands. The father built the third log cabin on the site of that now flourishing city and was identified with the opening of the country and in building it up. He was well known about Spokane and his labors did very much to assist in starting the thriving city that is now the pride of the northwest. He took land on what is known as Moran prairie, hauled the first fruit trees from Colfax and planted the first orchard in the whole section, thus benefitting in an untold manner the whole country by introducing fruit growing. Philip R. drove the second milk wagon that ever started in Spokane, and he attended the first school taught in the village. Mr. Havermale, a well known Methodist preacher now living in Spokane, taught the school. Thus has Mr. Kirby and his father been connected with the inception of civilization’s salutary institutions in the most notable Sections of the northwest and he is today still in the chariot of progress and his labors in the reservation portion of Nez Perces County are worthy and skillful.

When he was twenty-two, he went into partnership with his father and brother and they embarked in the stock business in what is known as the Big Bend country. There, also, they did much to open up the country. Twice, on account of hard winters, they were swept clean of all stock, but they stuck to the enterprise and finally made a success of it. In 1898, our subject removed to the reservation and bought a relinquishment, which he sold later and made a tour of northwestern Canada in quest of land, but finding nothing suitable, he returned to the reservation country and bought his present place, one and one-half miles northwest from Dublin. He has a good ranch and raises oats and timothy principally. Mr. Kirby has one brother, Eugene, a farmer near Ilo. He has five sisters, Isabel, wife of Thomas Newlan, a fruit raiser, five miles southeast from Spokane: Blanch, wife of William Hilby. a farmer eight miles southeast from Spokane: Sarah, wife of P. T. Lewis, a farmer at Ferdinand, Idaho County; Mary, wife of George Capps, a farmer near Reardan, Washington; Abigil, single and living near Spokane.

Mr. Kirby has never seen fit to relinquish the pleasant retreat and quiet joys of the bachelor for the seas of matrimony.

By way of reminiscence we remark that his father was in the Civil War, serving in the eleventh Minnesota Volunteers, and also fought in the bloody Sioux Indian war.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903