He would have preferred to be known as Judge Kibbey rather than as Governor Kibbey, he would have a more esteemed legal career than a governorship, but both careers were very distinguished. Author Jay Wagoner wrote that Joseph Kibbey was one of Arizona's best territorial governors.
Joseph Henry Kibbey was born in Centerville, Indiana on March 4, 1853 to Caroline E. and John F. Kibbey. He was educated at public schools and later attended Earlham College. He would later practice law in Richmond after being admitted to the Virginia State Bar in 1875. He practiced law there until 1888 when he moved to Arizona for health reasons. He married Nora Burbank on January 10, 1877. He served as city attorney in Richmond for two years. In 1888, he was appointed as associate Justice of the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court. He handed down the "Kibbey Decision" which dealt with land and water in Arizona. His term as judge ended in April of 1893. Afterward, he was twice Republican Chair of Maricopa County and three times territorial chair. He was a Phoenix City Attorney in November of 1897 and a member of council in the 22nd Territorial Legislature in 1903. He was appointed Territorial Attorney General in November 1904, and after Governor Brodie retires from service, Kibbey is appointed to the governorship.
He immediately faced problems regarding a bill in the US Congress that would have created statehood for Arizona and New Mexico, but would combine them both into one state. He promised to resign his office rather than allow the joint statehood bill to pass. The bill was passed by the US Congress, but with one stipulation, each territory had to vote for the provision. The final tally was 3,141 for the bill, but 16,265 against it, the measure failed.
Kibbey desired reform in the territory mainly addressing social issues. He wanted the outlaw of gambling, the restriction of liquor and tobacco, and the prohibition of prostitution were some his major suggestions. He wanted tax reform and a taxation on mines. He praised the work of the Arizona Rangers and created a Territorial Board of Health with County Boards to accompany it. He creatd the Territorial Railroad Commission which was the precurser to the Arizona Corporation Commission. He also created Greenlee County.
His stance on the taxation of mines would cost him the governorship. Mining companies were able to delay his renomination by President Roosevelt because they new that the new President Taft would not renominate him as governor. Joseph Kibbey left office on May 1, 1909 when President Taft nominated Richard Sloan. After leaving office, he was a counsel to the Salt River Valley Water User's Association and drafter of their articles of incorporation. In 1916 he was a nominee for US Senate by the Republican Party for the state of Arizona. He died June 14, 1924 in Phoenix. He is buried in Greenwood Memorial park.
Information from two sources:
Wagoner, Jay J. Arizona Territory, 1863-1912; a political history. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1970
Goff, John S. Arizona
Territorial Officials Volume 2. Arizona Black Mountain
Press, Cave Creek, 1975
Political Graveyard- Joseph H. Kibbey
Joseph H. Kibbey / by John S. Goff.
F811.K53 G64x 1991
Miscellaneous official documents collection,
MS FM MSS 29
Great Advantages of Arizona Territory.
FE EPH IV.40