Robert B. Kyle
ROBERT B. KYLE,
distinguished citizen and business man, of
Gadsden, was born in Rockingham
Ginty, N. C., May 24, 1826, and is a son of James and Elizabeth (Jones) Kyle, the former a native
of County Tyrone, Ireland, and the latter of Henry County, Va. The senior Mr.
Kyle came to America and settled in Rock County in 1820, and there in 1821 married Miss Jones. They had born to them two
sons and five daughters. Mr. Kyle was a tobacco manufacturer at Leaksville, N.
C., where he died in 183,i.
The subject of this sketch, from his early
youth, was reared by his stepfather, Col. Joseph Kyle, a prominent business man
at Columbus, Ga. Early in 1861 he
joined the Thirty-first Alabama Infantry
as first lieutenant, and at the organization of the regiment was made
quartermaster. His health failing him, he was some time thereafter appointed to
the local quartermaster's service, and assigned to Columbus, Ga., where he
remained to the close of the war.
Col. Robert B. Kyle was
one of the contractors who built the railroad from Opelika, Ala., to Columbus,
Ga., in 1852. In the latter part of that year he moved to Cherokee County, Ala.,
and commenced farming; but, being of an active temperament and restless, unless
engaged in trade and handling money, he left his farm, moved to Gadsden in
September, 1857, and commenced merchandising. Gadsden at that time had a
population of but one hundred and fifty people and but three small stores.
Through his energy and management, Colonel Kyle at once built up a fine trade
with all the surrounding counties of Northeast Alabama, and with others in
The shipping facilities of
Gadsden at that time were very inadequate, but Colonel Kyle, perceiving the
necessity of more enlarged means of transportation, organized a company and
built a steamboat for the Coosa River and its tributaries. This accomplished,
Gadsden became a considerable cotton market, and trade generally more than
trebled itself in a remarkably short time. At the outbreak of the war, Colonel
Kyle had built up a
very large business, and
the population of the town had greatly increased.
After the war, Colonel
Kyle returned to Gadsden and set about the rebuilding of his fortune. With the
eye of a far-seeing intellect, he understood the natural advantages of this
location, and proceeded without delay to develop them. He engaged at the
mercantile business and soon afterward undertook the construction of the
Alabama & Chattanooga Railroad, and subsequently, in connection with the late
W. P. Hollingsworth, built the Gadsden branch from Atalla. This was the first
important step toward the development of the natural resources of this town,
and gave him additional facilities for handling lumber, cotton and other
products of the county. His enterprise and business tact brought this business
to the notice of the world, and, through him, Gadsden has become one of the
largest interior manufacturing points of the long-leaf yellow pine lumber. His
trade rapidly spread out to all parts of the country, and he shipped lumber as
far north as Chicago, as far west as Kansas City, and eastward to the Atlantic
Under Colonel Kyle's
management, the lumber interest at Gadsden has become a gigantic
industry, and gives
employment to over one thousand men.
Colonel Kyle has been
equally active in the upbuilding and development of almost every other
meritorious enterprise so far established at Gadsden. He was the leading spirit
in the organization of the Gadsden Furnace Company, and of the Elliott Car
Works; is president of the Gadsden Land and Improvement Company, and holds a
directorship in almost every other incorporated institution at this place.
Colonel Kyle is a modest,
unassuming gentleman, takes a deep interest in the moral and intellectual advancement of his city and
country, and is altogether one of the most progressive citizens of Northern
Alabama. Energetic, far-seeing, brave and daring, he allows no obstacle to stand
between him and the objects at all times in view.
In speaking of him, a recent publication says:
has hewn down all obstacles, and brought his section of the country from a wild
wilderness to be one of the most enterprising and inviting of the South. He is
now a 'sentinel upon the watch-tower' that looks out to warn off all danger, as
well as to see the necessities and ad-vantages of his country, and at once forms
all combinations necessary to meet and utilize them to the interests of the
community. No truer man lives; no politician, yet an anxious wisher for good and
honest government. Such is Col. Robert B. Kyle, one of nature's noblemen."
Colonel Kyle was married
December 1, 1848, to Miss Mary Thornton, a daughter of Dozier Thornton, of
Cherokee County, and had born to him two children, one of whom is dead. The
other, Mary A., is the wife of Marcus L. Foster, of Gadsden. Mrs. Kyle died in
Cherokee County, Ala., 1855; in October, 1856, the Colonel was married to Miss
Mary Nuckolls, daughter of Nathaniel Nuckolls, of Columbus, Ga. To this union
twelve children were born, six of whom are dead. The living are Mrs. Nena Kyle
Elliott, wife of James M. Elliott, Miss Bessie Lee Kyle, Miss Edith Marion Kyle, Miss Robbie E. Kyle, Miss Florie
Maie Kyle, and Mr. Thomas Stonewall Kyle, who secretary and treasurer of the
Kyle Lumber Company.
In consideration of
Colonel Kyle's prominence and popularity as a citizen of Gadsden, the
publishers take pleasure in presenting with this chapter a steel plate
portrait of that gentleman.
McCalley, Henry, Northern Alabama :
historical and biographical.
Birmingham, AL: Smith & De
Land, 1888, pp. 835.