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Thomas Erby Kilby

Gov. Thomas Erby Kilby

  • January 20, 1919 - January 15, 1923
  • Democratic
  • July 9, 1865
  • October 22, 1943
  • Tennessee
  • Married Mary Elizabeth Clark; three children


THOMAS ERBY KILBY was born in Lebanon, Tennessee, on July 9, 1865. He was educated in the public schools of Atlanta, Georgia; moved to Anniston, Alabama, in 1887; and worked for the Georgia and Pacific Railroad.  Kilby entered the steel business in 1889, advanced through the ranks, and became president of Kilby Steel Company. He also was vice president of the Kilby Frog and Switch Company in 1903, and was president of the Anniston’s City National Bank in 1905. Kilby started in politics in 1898 when he was elected to the Anniston’s city council, serving until 1900. He was Anniston’s mayor from 1905 to 1909, and served in the Alabama Senate from 1911 to 1915. He also was lieutenant governor for Alabama from 1915 to 1919. Kilby became Alabama’s Governor on November 5, 1918, and was sworn into office on January 20, 1919. During his term as governor, state prisons and juvenile reform schools were upgraded, the taxation system was revamped, a state budget system was adopted, and Confederate pensions were increased. A Workmen’s Compensation law was passed, as well as a progressive educational code. Also, a Home for Feeble-Minded Children and a Board of Control and Economy were created. Although the governor straddled the fence on women’s suffrage, the 19th Amendment was recognized in the fall of 1920, when Tennessee became the 26th state to ratify it to the U.S. Constitution. Kilby left office on January 15, 1923, and returned to his various business ventures. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1926, and again in 1932. Kilby died on October 22, 1943, and is buried at the Highland Cemetery Annex, Anniston, Alabama.


Alabama Business Hall of Fame

Alabama Department of Archives and History

The Political Graveyard

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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