York Kilburn


In 1790, the census for the city of Albany enumerated the household of "York Kilburn." Living in his third ward home were three "free people of color." Also appearing on that census was the first ward household of Charles Kilburn which included neither free blacks nor slaves.

It appears that York Kilburn was born in 1753. Military service records also reveal that he was 5' 4'', had black hair and skin, and was a painter.

A traditional source has listed him among the Revolutionary war soldiers from Great Barrington (Berkshire County, Massachusetts) and noted that he was a "negro." At the same time, a York Kilburn and other same-surnamed soldiers were listed from the town of Sandsfield. A clothing and payroll list for the First Massachusetts Regiment from 1781 to 1783 included the name of "York Kilburn" along with a number of other African American soldiers. His name has not been encountered among the wartime records consulted so far for Albany or for greater New York State.

After the end of the war, he became a resident of Albany. In 1788, his house and holdings were valued modestly on the third ward Albany assessment. Two years later, his household was included on the census. Four entries below, was the Market Street home of General Abraham Ten Broeck, which included twelve slaves.

However, in 1799, the Albany assessment roll valued only the small lot of "York Kilborne" with dozens of others in the first ward. After that, his name drops from Albany rolls.

York Kilburn is said to have moved on to New York City where he was identified as a free black head of household on the census of the fourth ward in 1800.

Later, "free black" York Kilburn was living in the town of Union in Broome County where he was identified as a householder on the census in 1820 and again in 1830.

We seek information on his life before and after Albany.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of York Kilburn has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

This exposition joyously acknowledges the support, collaboration, and encouragement of Kilburn kin and family historian Katherine Butler Jones.

Miscellaneous and unverified information of some interest: Clothing and payroll return documents from the First Massachusetts regiment, 1781-1783. Documents listing many free African Americans who fought in this desegregated regiment during thesiege of Boston and at Trenton, Princeton, Saratoga, and Monmouth, and guarded the Hudson Highlands.These highly detailed accounts provide information on nine companies of the First Massachusetts, listingthe rank, time of service, and pay rate for each man, deficiencies and surpluses, and a complete inventoryof clothing supplied. Notes are made on men who have died, deserted (thirty-seven during 1783),or transferred regiments. The average page contains roughly sixty-five to seventy-five troops, notdistinguished by race. African American soldiers include: Newport Sambow, Cesar Freeman,Primus Coburn, Cato Debblee, Cato Foster, Gad Negro, Cato Gregor, Negro Boston, Cato Frost,Cesar Fairservice, York Kilburn, Peter Oliver, and numerous others. (GLC 9134)

first posted: 7/20/10