After the war he moved to New Philadelphia where he taught school. In 1869 he moved to Indianapolis to work in a warehouse.
He came to Anderson, Indiana in 1879, after marrying Bertha McCullough of Anderson, whose family had started the Citizens Bank. Durbin engaged in Anderson banking and manufacturing.
He was a member of the Republican National Committee from Indiana and was appointed to the executive committee in charge of western headquarters. He played a prominent role nationally in the Grand Army of the Republic. Durbin was commissioned colonel of the 161st regiment during the Spanish-American War. His regiment would be deployed to Havana, Cuba.
He ran for governor in 1901 and won the election defeating John W. Kern by 25,000 votes. He served from January 14, 1901 until January 9, 1905. He ran for governor again in 1912 but defeated Samuel M. Ralston.
This is believed to be a result of his lingering unpopularity after a 1903 incident when he successfully ordered the National Guard to disperse a lynch mob.