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Kirkover, Henry Donly - Erie County

HENRY DONLY KIRKOVER, one of Buffalo's most extensive real estate owners, and a leading member of the Grade Crossing Commission, is a man who throughout his career has borne weighty responsibilities, both personal and public, and has in every instance acquitted himself with signal credit.

Mr. Kirkover's father, Oliver Kirkover, was born in Baden Baden, Germany, in 1797. In 1833 he came to America with his wife, whose maiden name was Maria Prambach, and five children, Mary, Katherine, Louis, August and Oliver. Settling in Buffalo, the elder Kirkover became a lumberman, operating in New York and Pennsylvania. To his lumber business he added the manufacture of brick and the quarrying of stone. He lived in Buffalo till his death, which took place in 1876. Four children - William, John, Henry D., and Louise- were born to him in this country. His children now surviving are: Henry D., Louis, August, and William.

Henry Donly Kirkover was born in Buffalo February 16, 1838. In his boyhood he attended the public schools. When about sixteen years old he went to work, assisting his father in the brick and lumber business. Later he engaged in the contracting business, furnishing brick, stone and other materials for building purposes. About this period Mr. Kirkover began to deal extensively in real estate, investing mostly in what were then the outlying properties in Buffalo. As the city's population expanded, these lands advanced in value and Mr. Kirkover's wealth grew greater in proportion. Of later years he has devoted his attention almost exclusively to his real estate properties.

Mr. Kirkover was an early advocate of the extension of the Buffalo street railway system. In 1891-2 he drew up a plan for the extension of the lines in all directions, and the system, first conceived and projected by Mr. Kirkover, is in operation today. When the agitation for the improvement of the local telephone service was begun, Mr. Kirkover led the movement which resulted in the building of the Frontier Telephone system. He was a director of the Frontier Company until the consolidation of the independent companies. Mr. Kirkover was actively and efficiently concerned in securing the appropriations for the Stony Point breakwater and the North breakwater, of Buffalo harbor.

For a few years Mr. Kirkover lived in West Seneca, and was four times elected to represent that township in the Board of Supervisors of Erie County, and rendered valuable service. While Mr. Kirkover was a member of the Board of Supervisors, several important reforms were instituted, in all of which he was active, notably in that whereby homes were found for thousands of orphans, the county expenses were reduced $25,000 a year. Another reform was the inauguration of competitive bidding for the public printing. Another field of energetic and conscientious work in the public behalf was afforded Mr. Kirkover by his connection with the State Lunacy Commission, to which he was appointed by Governor Hill, and subsequently reappointed by Governor Flower, serving seven years in all.

With no cause has Mr. Kirkover been more prominently identified than with the abolition of railroad grade crossings. Since 1892 he has served as a member of the Grade Crossings Commission, without compensation, for upward of fourteen years.

September 26, 1871, Mr. Kirkover married Emma J. Barnard, daughter of Robert Barnard of Buffalo. The one child of this union is Harry D. Kirkover.

For the last twenty years Mr. Kirkover has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and is a trustee of the Fidelity Trust Company.

SOURCE: Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York; Volume I