The Kilbourne Desk

By Don Taylor

Ellie bought the desk in the 1990s. It was lovely and very old.  She enjoyed it for years before she removed the bottom right drawer and looked at the bottom. There, on the bottom of the drawer, was a story handwritten in pencil. The desk had been owned by Ivory Kilbourne of Rowley, Mass, and came to Scarboro in 1782 by Schooner. Ellie reached out to the Scarborough Historical Society to learn if we knew anything about Ivory Kilbourne and his wife, (Mary Pickard) Kilbourne.

Photo by Ellie Peoples

Being the “Technology Guy”, my first thought was to check our Bill Tolman Finding Aid. You can access it from the Scarborough Historical Society website. Hover the Library tab then select the Main Room Page. Under Computers, you will see the database. It is a finding aid containing over 300,000 entries. A truly amazing resource.

The database is set up as multiple spreadsheets based upon surnames. I selected Surname-K and then cursored down to the Kilborn and saw there were many different spellings of the name. So, I filtered the spreadsheet to only show entries with the first name of Ivory. There were 9 entries for Ivory Kilborn with several spellings of his surname. Among the cemetery and death records was one entry of particular interest: 


Although a little cryptic, that entry means that I should find information about Ivory Kilbourne on pages 27 & 28 in the book, Scarborough Becomes a Town by Dorothy Shaw Libby, which is located in the main bookcase, shelf 4. I found the book and looked at the pages suggested and found the following:

Ivory Kilbourne, born in 1755 in Rowley, Massachusetts, came to Scarborough in 1782. He came on horseback, bringing his bride, Hannah Pickard (a kinswoman of the famous Whittier family of Haverhill) with him, along with her servant. His close friend, Parson Lancaster, had told him what a wonderful place Scarborough was and suggested that it would make an ideal place to build a house and begin his married life. The young couple had several saddlebags filled with Hannah’s personal things and enough food to last them through their journey.

The boat bringing their furniture was delayed by a bad storm and anchored outside for several days. The young people thought that their things had been lost, but finally one morning the boat sailed up the Spurwink River and Hannah’s furniture. (A table, chairs and a desk are still used by the Huston family at Spurwink).

Ivory and Hannah bought land from the Jordans at Spurwink and built their first house. Ivory (then only thirty-one) cut his logs and had them sawed at the nearest mill, then the neighbors came and helped him raise the frame for his house. He built his chimney first and the house around it. He split the shingles and clapboards by hand; his nails, spikes, hinges and latches were made by the blacksmith.

Ivory and Hannah Stayed with the Lancasters until their house was ready, and then with the help of Lettice, their faithful servant, they raised their family.  Ivory, Jr., was born in 1785, and Mary (Aunt Polly) was born in 1787, then came Eben in 1789. Hannah soon died leaving the children for Ivory to raise. In December, 1796, he married Sally Larrabee, and they had several children.

As is often the case, answer one question and find another.  In this case, the desk indicates it was Ivory and his bride Mary Pickard’s desk. But Dorthey Shaw Libby’s book indicated it was Hannah Pickard.  Could Hannah have been Hannah Mary or maybe Mary Hannah? If so, the apparent conflict goes away. Maybe some of those death or burial records will answer the question.

I found it interesting to learn of Ivory and Hannah coming to Scarborough and the trek that the desk took. I hope you find the Bill Tolman Finding Aid useful in your Scarborough research. I certainly do.

The Kilbourne Desk
Photo by Ellie Peoples

[Note: Don Taylor is a research volunteer at the Scarborough Historical Society.]


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