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David W. Gilbert, Page 283
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DAVID W. GILBERT. The pioneers of Wisconsin should receive the highest commendation and praise, from the fact that they have paved the way for civilization; and among those who have been prominent in the upbuilding of Sheboygan County is this gentleman, who has been a resident of Lima Township since 1846. He was born in Wayne County, N.Y., May 24, 1818, being a son of Charles and Lydia (Warner) Gilbert, and is the youngest and only living child in a family of three sons and six daughters.
The father of our subject was born April 5, 1773, in Massachusetts, and died in 1855. He remembered very distinctly many incidents of the Revolutionary War, and when the recruiting officer came to his father's home the latter was at work in the field, and was led away to the service. The War of 1812 was also very distinct in his memory, and the early history of this country was at his tongue's end. He and his wife were devout members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in political faith he was a Jackson Democrat. His wife was also born in the old Bay State, May 11, 1774. She lived to an extreme old age, dying in February 1870, when in her ninety-seventh year. Mr. Gilbert has in his possession an old family record written by his uncle when over seventy years of age. Through it was written with a quill pen, it is like a piece of fine copy-plate.
When his parents removed from Wayne County to Monroe County, N.Y., our subject had only seen three summers, and he continued to reside in the latter county until coming to the West. From boyhood he was used to hard work on a farm, and his early educational training was commenced in a primitive log cabin, with wooden benches and an old-fashioned fireplace. The school was kept up by private subscription, and the birth rod occupied a prominent place in the discipline of that institution of learning.
Until he was twenty-three years of age, David Gilbert lived with his parents and dutifully assisted them. He then embarked in the business of life for himself, starting without a dollar. What was more valuable, however, to him, was his sturdy, industrious, honest manhood, which was wrought out of him a grand success. On leaving the old homestead, he chose for his companion in life Miss Keziah J. Ferris, a native of New York. They were married on the 22d of May, 1842, and five children were born of their union. George Newton married Miss Ella Wheeler, and has two children. He is a successful farmer of Kenosha County, Wis. Rev. Henry Franklin is a Baptist minister of Thompson, Ill. He received a superior education in the High School at Sheboygan, and in Appleton, Wis., and subsequently pursued his studies in Beaver Dam, Wis., and in the Baptist Theological Seminary of Chicago, from which he graduated. He married Miss Katie Mason, and has a family of four children. Harriet E. is the wife of William Halter, a farmer of Lyndon Township. She was a teacher for several years in this county. They have one child. Helen E. is the wife of A. T. Dye, of Morris, Minn., a general merchant, and they have one child. Leonard D. is engaged in farming in Clark County, S. Dak. He married Miss Jane De Braal, and has three children.
In May, 1846, Mr. Gilbert started with his family for Buffalo, whence they went by the Great Lakes to Sheboygan, which was then but a hamlet. The pier known as the Farnsworth Pier was still standing, and was one of the principal points in the village. It was erected and controlled by William Farnsworth, an Indian trader, who married for his second wife an Indian squaw. Center Street was then the main thoroughfare, and Eighth Street, which is now the main street of the city, was dotted here and there with a few shanties. Much of what is now covered with fine buildings was only a thicket when Mr. Gilbert first saw the place. After two weeks spent in prospecting, he bought sixty-five acres of land in Lima Township, paying $1.25 per acre. Afterward he purchased eighty acres more and devoted himself with energy to its improvement. His first home was a frame building, 16x24 feet, which, with the later addition made to it, is still standing. He is one of the earliest settlers, and remembers the time when Indians were plentiful in the county, and their corn-planting ground was only six miles west of his home. He was present at the first election in the town, was made one of the Supervisors, and has aided in laying out many roads. The family attended church at the Falls, going thither in a cart drawn by oxen.
Mr. Gilbert was called upon to mourn the death of his wife, which occurred April 12, 1862. She was interred in the Dye Cemetery, where a monument has been erected to her memory. On the 11th of September, 1878, our subject was again married, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary E. Brown, who was born December 29, 1846, in Ohio, and is a daughter of Esek and Lucy A. (Austin) Brown. She was a successful teacher for several years in this county, and has proven of great assistance to her husband. Her father was born March 31, 1820, in Rhode Island, on a farm, but learned the trade of blacksmith. His is still living, being a resident of Mitchell Township, this county.
The farm now owned and carried on by Mr. Gilbert comprises two hundred acres of well-improved land in Lima Township. It is located within five miles of Sheboygan Falls, seven miles from Plymouth, and three and a-half miles from Waldo. The owner has been a valuable citizen and has done his share toward the promotion of all public enterprises. Among the offices he has acceptably held are those of Supervisor, Assessor and Township Treasurer. For many years he has been officially connected with the public-school system, in which he is an earnest believer. He well remembers the famous campaign known as the "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too," and used his first franchise in supporting William Henry Harrison. He is a man of strong and earnest convictions, and is fearless in the advocacy of those principles he deems best for the masses. He is a member of the Baptist Church in Sheboygan Falls. A full page portrait is here presented of this sterling old pioneer.
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