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Ephraim Kibby


Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 29 January 2005

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter VIII. The Distinguished Dead
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)
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This pioneer surveyor and soldier was born in New Jersey, midway between Trenton and Newark. Reaching his majority about the commencement of the Revolutionary war, he became a soldier in the struggle for independence, and continued in active service until it ended. Being a land surveyor, he was induced to seek his fortunes in the Miami Purchase. He was one of the colony led by Maj. Benjamin Stites, which made the first settlement in Symmes' Purchase, and laid out the town of Columbia. Kibby was in the boat which brought the party which made the first improvement at Columbia, and which landed near the mouth of the Little Miami in November, 1788. On the 7th of January, 1789, he was one of thirty persons who drew each one outlet and one in lot in the town of Losanteville, now Cincinnati. For several years, he was engaged as one of the surveyors in Symmes' Purchase, and was exposed to imminent dangers from the hostile Indians until Wayne's treaty of peace. He served in the campaigns against the Indians, and in Gen. Wayne's army he was Captain of the rangers. Gen. Wayne, profiting by the experience of St. Clair and Harmar, determined to use the utmost caution in his movements to guard against being surprised. To secure his army against the possibility, of being ambuscaded, he employed a number of the best woodmen the country afforded to act as scouts or rangers. Capt. Ephraim Kibby commanded the principal part of this corps, and was commended in McDonald's Sketches as "a bold and intrepid soldier."

On the restoration of peace, he resumed the business of surveying. It is known that in 1799 he laid out a road from Vincennes to the Great Miami River, and a published statement gave its length, on his authority, as 155 miles and 48 poles. The Western Spy of July 23, 1799, contained the following:

"Capt. E. Kibby, who, some time since, undertook to cut a road from Fort Vincennes to this place, returned on Monday reduced to a perfect skeleton. He had cut the road seventy miles, when, by some means he was separated from his men. After hunting them several days without success, he steered his course this way. He has undergone great hardships, and was obliged to subsist on roots, etc., which he picked up in the woods. Thus far report."

Capt. Kibby resided for some time in Columbia, in which place he is said to have built the first stone house. On the formation of Columbia Township, in 1791—the oldest township between the Miamis, and originally embracing parts of Hamilton, Butler and Warren Counties—he was appointed, by the Court of Quarter Sessions, the first Clerk of the township. He also for a time resided in the village of Cincinnati. About the commencement of this century, he removed with his family to Deerfield or its vicinity.

During the storm of excitement which followed Aaron Burr's attempted expedition down the Mississippi, rumor, fear, partisan feeling and prejudice endangered the reputation of every man who had even an acquaintance with Burr. The storm was nowhere greater than in Ohio, and Capt. Kibby, who had known Col. Burr as an officer in the Revolutionary war, and had probably met him several times in Cincinnati, in order to protect his reputation, published, in the Western Spy, an affidavit denying all connection with any scheme against the welfare of the Government. The published report of Burr's trial shows that Kibby was subpoenaed as a witness on the part of the Government, but he did not testify. His name is mentioned in the testimony of Gen. William Eaton, from which it appeared that Burr, in order to win Eaton over to his Mexican scheme, had indulged in loose talk to the effect that a majority of the people about Cincinnati were ready to embark in his expedition, and that "a Mr. Ephraim Kibby', late Captain of the rangers in Wayne's army, and a Brigade Major in the vicinity of Cincinnati, who had much influence with the militia, had already engaged the majority of his brigade, who were ready to march at Mr. Burr's signal."

In 1802, Capt. Kibby was elected a member of the Legislature of the Northwest Territory, but the formation of a State Government prevented the Legislature to which he was elected from meeting. He was elected a member of the first Legislature of the State of Ohio, and served two terms. He had a large family, and his descendants in Warren County are numerous. Judge John P. Kibby, of Richmond, Ind., who is a native of Warren County, is his grandson. Capt Kibby died April 22, 1809, aged fifty-five years, and was buried at Deerfield.

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This page created 29 January 2005 and last updated 31 August, 2012
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