1812 - 1878
John B. Tilford was born on March 4, 1812, the son of John Tilford, President of the Bank of the United States’ branch in Lexington and later of the Northern Bank of Kentucky. Mr. Tilford and James Hanna operated J. B. Tilford & Company, a retail grocery, in downtown Lexington during the 1840s and 1850s. In September 1849, Mr. Tilford succeeded Robert S. Todd as President of the Lexington branch of the Bank of Kentucky. During 1855, he formed the private bank of Tilford & Barclay, with John L. Barclay. After the death of Mr. Barclay in 1860, he continued business as J. B. Tilford & Company. In 1866, he expanded business with additional partners to become Tilford, Proctor & Hocker Bankers.
Disposing of his Lexington business interest the next year, Mr. Tilford concentrated on banking with Eastern interests. His estate, "Woodlands" (now Woodland Park), was purchased in 1866 by the Agricultural and Mechanical College (now University of Kentucky) for $40,000.
By 1870, Mr. Tilford reformed J. B. Tilford & Company in New York City to continue in the banking and stock brokerage business. Mr. Tilford was a member of the stock and gold exchanges, with his offices located on Wall Street. He retained connections with the Bluegrass area, serving as the New York City correspondent for a number of private banks in the Bluegrass area. Before his death, he advanced funds to allow his sons to establish an oil trading business, which later merged with the Standard Oil Company. At the time of Mr. Tilford's death, his family was one of the wealthiest in the nation. He died in New York City on November 28, 1878 and was buried in the Lexington Cemetery.