James P. Kimball

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James Putnam Kimball

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of James Kimball and Maria Giddings Putnam

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About James P. Kimball


James Putnam Kimball (1836–1913) was a United States geologist who was Director of the United States Mint from 1885 to 1889.


James P. Kimball was born in Salem, Massachusetts on April 26, 1836. In 1854, he entered the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University; after a year he traveled to Berlin to study at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität; he then transferred to the Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, receiving a Ph.D. in 1857. He then enrolled in mining studies at the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg in Freiberg, Saxony.

After making a tour of Europe, Kimball returned to the United States to become an assistant to Harvard University geology professor Josiah Whitney. As Whitney's assistant, Kimball participated in the geological surveys of Wisconsin, Illinois, and southeastern Iowa.

When the New York State Agricultural College (later merged into Cornell University) was founded in Ovid, New York, Kimball became Professor of Chemistry and Economic Geology.

With the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1862, the college's president, Maj. M. R. Patrick was appointed Brigadier-General of Volunteers; Kimball became Brig. Gen. Patrick's Chief of Staff, with the rank of Captain. He saw field service under Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell, and was present at the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28–30, 1862); the Battle of Chantilly (September 1, 1862); the Battle of South Mountain (September 14, 1862); the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862); the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862); the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30-May 6, 1863); and the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863). Brig. Gen. Patrick was then appointed Provost Marshal of the Army of the Potomac, and Capt. Kimball accompanied him there, serving on the General Staff under Generals George B. McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, and George Meade successively.

When the army went in to winter quarters, Kimball resigned to resume his life as a mining engineer based in New York City. He became president of the Everett Iron Company, which played a major role in developing mines in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in 1883-84.

In 1885, President of the United States Grover Cleveland named Kimball Director of the United States Mint and Kimball held that office from July 1885 until October 1889.

Kimball died in 1913.

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James P. Kimball's Timeline

Age 77