Sunday, January 17, 2016

Levin Kirk Gunby Phillips - Black Hills Pioneer of 1876

Levin Kirk Gunby Phillips was the son of Levin Wilmer Phillips (1796-1863) and Mary A. J. Gunby (1814-1857).  He was born November 25, 1851 in Barren Creek of what is now Wicomico County. He migrated to Ohio, Missouri,  and Montana where he was engaged in mining and then moved to Deadwood in the Black Hills Of South Dakota on April 30 1876, where he was a druggist and continued to invest in mining.  He was one of the Black Hills Pioneers of 76.  He became active in Republican politics and held a number of offices in the state, including Mayor of Deadwood and State treasurer.  He ran for Governor in 1898 losing by 385 votes.  The Salisbury Advertiser November 12, 1898 ran an article in which they incorrectly said he had been elected Governor.

He would marry first Louise, who would die March 30, 1885.  He married again to Annie Isabella Cooper on June 30th 1887.  Annie was born Feb 10th, 1865 in New Jersey, the daughter of Irish immigrants.  Kirk Phillips would die August 7, 1913.  He had no children by either wife.  He had become quite rich for the time and his probate record cover about 340 pages.  His 1907 will was a very simple, handwritten one and only one page;

In his will he mention he wants his three sisters taken care of.  They were Jenny (Virginia) Phillips age 63 in 1913, Emma Phillips age 59 in 1913, and Sallie Phillips age 57 in 1913.   They lived in Barren Creek.  As the probate progressed it picked up the sons of Martha Phillip Lowe, another sister (actually half sister).  Those sons lived in Delmar and they were Louis B. Lowe age 55, Herms Lowe age 53, and William Lowe age 51.

from the Wicomico News (Barren Creek) Oct 20, 1921

Annie Phillips would move to California by 1930 and would die in California on April 29, 1955.  Her body would be shipped back to Deadwood and be buried next to her husband in Mt. Moriah cemetery.  Kirk's first wife, Louise, is also buried at Mt. Moriah. Of note, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are also buried at Mt. Moriah.  The Society of Black Hills Pioneers of which Kirk Phillips was a member at the time, handled the burying of Calamity Jane in 1903.


  1. Nice to know. A distant cousin of mine.

  2. I am writing a longer version for the Lower Delmarva Genealogical Society newsletter should be done in March with it. if you would like a copy of it send me an email to the Dhas yahoo address and I will email it to you. Comments made on Blogger do not show an email address from the person making the comment so I am unable to use the email address you made the comment from. Should you want to see what he looked like his photo is in the South Dakota Archives