Frank O. Kihlberg San Miguel County, New Mexico

Frank O. Kihlberg, the only one of these pioneers who still resides in Las Vegas, was engaged in business as a general merchant and distiller, having as a partner George W. Merritt.

Mr. Kihlberg was born in Mobile, Alabama, November 31, 1831, his parents being Peter and Louise Kihlberg, the former a native of Sweden and the latter of Wurtemberg, Germany. In his childhood days Frank O. Kihlberg was taken by his parents to Venezuela and was educated in the Spanish college at Caracas. The father was engaged there in the manufacture of handsome and costly furniture, all of which was made by hand. Having completed his education, Frank O. Kihlberg spent nearly two years as a clerk for Frederick Cordes & Company, a Hamburg (Germany) firm, doing business in Caracas. The revolution of 1848, however, caused his mother to leave Venezuela for St. Louis, Missouri, and the father died soon afterward. Because of these events Mr. Kihlberg went to Baltimore, Maryland, in May, 1849, and thence to St. Louis. Missouri, accomplishing the greater part of the overland journey by stage. He continued in St. Louis until July, 1852. when he came to New Mexico and engaged in merchandising and overland freighting as one of the pioneer settlers, identifying his interests with the new west, where the settlers were very widely scattered, there being few evidences of improvement or civilization or indication that rapid progress would soon be made. From January, 1853, until the spring of 1855 he acted as a clerk for Connelly & Mitchell at Las Vegas, and in the latter year became a partner of George W. Merritt in the conduct of a general mercantile store in that city. He continued in business until 1869 and in the meantime made many trips to Kansas City for freight. In the '60s he had a train of thirty large freight wagons, carrying from six to seven thousand pounds, and freighted extensively for others as well as for himself. The long trips across the plains were fraught with hardships and dangers, and he had many encounters with the Indians. During that period he used cattle trains entirely, having six or seven yoke of oxen in a train. In the year 1869 he went to Kansas City to fill a contract for transporting military stores for the government from Fort Harker. Kansas, to Camp Supply and Fort Sill, and also from Fort Kit Carson. Colorado, to New Mexico, and to military posts in Colorado. He was thus engaged for two years.

After the contract had been completed, Mr. Kihlberg established a forwarding and commission house at West Las Animas. Colorado, forwarding to New Mexico points from 1874 until 1876. During this time he made frequent trips to Las Vegas, and in the latter year he returned to the city and entered the real estate and livestock business. He has done much surveying in this vicinity, especially in Las Vegas, and has intimate knowledge of property interests in the city and surrounding districts.

Mr. Kihlberg was married, in 1858, to Lena G. Hoffelmann in Natchez, Mississippi. They had one son, Alfred E., who was educated at the Kemper School, Booneville, Missouri, and died in St. Louis, March 25. 1 88 1, at the age of twenty-one years.

With the interests of Las Vegas Mr. Kihlberg has been identified from the period of its early development down to the present, and has watched with interest its growth since it was a pioneer settlement. Today it has all of the conveniences, advantages and accessories of a modern civilization, and Mr. Kihlberg has always stood for improvement here. In 1881 he began building a park in the plaza at Las Vegas. An attempt had previously been made to build a court. He met with radical opposition, but continued the work on his own responsibility, and as time has passed by he has received the indorsement of all public-spirited citizens on account of his excellent work in this direction. One of his pleasant recollections of a long and useful life full of dramatic incidents and stirring events is of a great buffalo hunt in 1872, which was planned for the amusement of the Russian grand duke, Alexis. This occurred near Kit Carson, Colorado, and was participated in by Mr. Kihlberg, General Phil Sheridan, Colonel William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill), General McCook and other famous plainsmen and hunters.

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Source: History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Co., 1907.

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Created 1996 by Charles Barnum & 2016 by Judy White

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