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Thu, 06.17.1830

James K. Hilyard, Businessman born

James Hilyard

*James Hilyard was born on this date in 1830.  He was a Black businessman and activist. 

From Lancaster, PA, at an early age, James Kidd Hilyard worked on the steamboats that ran on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.   Records show that in 1845 he lived in Philadelphia and while working in 1856 he arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota.   After serving in the American Civil War he returned in 1864 and opened a well-known clothing store where he also offered clothing repair and cleaning services at 468 Robert Street.  

Hilyard also resided at this address, along with his wife, Sabre or Saba (née Halford), who worked as a housekeeper, and son William, who worked as a Pullman Porter.  Hilyard sold real estate and insurance, and served as bandmaster for his Quadrille Band, which performed both within the city of Saint Paul and on the riverboats that stopped over.  In addition to his business ventures, Hilyard was a social activist, raising money for relief efforts for Blacks migrating from the South to Kansas. 

Hilyard was responsible for introducing Black masonry to Minnesota, establishing the Appeal, first Black newspaper in the state, and actively recruiting black lawyers, news editors, and doctors to the Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Hilyard passed away in 1891 in Philadelphia and was interred in Oakland Cemetery in Saint Paul. 

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