JOHN GILBERT has but recently taken up his residence in the village of Oregon, and is now living in comparative retirement, after years of arduous and fruitful toil upon the farm, which is located but a few miles from the place of his present abode.
He is a son of Schuyler Gilbert, one of the pioneer citizens of Dane county, and it is but proper that in this review more than a passing mention should be given the latter. Schuyler Gilbert was born October 11, 1819, in Tully, Onondaga county, N.Y., and his early life was spent there as a farmer. He came west in 1845, and located in the town of Oregon, Dane county, where he first purchased forty acres of land, to which he soon added forty acres by purchase and forty of government land, and afterward purchased an additional forty-five acres, thus making his farm to consist of one hundred and sixty-five acres of land, which he improved and brought to a high state of cultivation.
About the first necessity after locating here in the woods was a place of habitation, and Mr. Gilbert built a log shanty, with puncheon floor, an oak door and a "six-light" window, without glass, the latter being made from the cover of a dry-goods box. The cabin was roofed with shingles sawed out by himself and wife, and this was the family abode during the first summer following the advent of Mr. Gilbert into the wilds of this western country. But in November, 1846, they were able to move into a good log house, the lumber being sawed from timber "borrowed" from speculators' lands in Green county, and this answered the need of a comfortable home until 1869, when Mr. Gilbert erected a good frame house on his farm, in which he and his good wife spent the remainder of their lives.
The hard times experienced by the early pioneers and the difficulties with which they had to contend will never be fully appreciated by those of a later generation. Mr. Gilbert converted all of his first crop of wheat into seed for the following year, and then split rails at fifty cents per hundred to obtain money with which to buy wheat at fifty cents per bushel for bread. He was compelled to walk more than two miles each day, to and from his work. The first wheat he marketed was drawn to Milwaukee by oxen, three weeks being consumed in making the round trip.
Mr. Gilbert was married, in December, 1844, to Miss Nancy Hills, of Fabius, Onondaga county, N.Y., and together they endured the trials of a pioneer life, not unmixed, however, with happiness. They both lived to enjoy the abundant fruits of their early toil and privations, the wife dying on January 26, 1889, and the father on April 1, 1894. Five children were the result of their union, four of whom survive. Frank is a resident of the state of Kansas; Mary E., became the wife of John Draher, of the town of Oregon, and is now deceased; John is the immediate subject of this review; and Josephine (now Mrs. Faulkes) and Alice (now Mrs. Marshall) both reside in the village of Oregon. All of these children were born on the old homestead, and all were educated in the district schools.
John Gilbert was born on March 31, 1861, and remained with his parents on the old homestead until he had attained to his majority. He then began farming for himself and has successfully followed that honorable calling for nearly twenty-five years, only recently retiring and taking up his residence in the village of Oregon. He owns two hundred and five acres of well-improved land, which stands as a high testimonial to his energy and industrious habits.
He was married on December 23, 1888, taking as his partner for life Miss Flora B. Lockwood, daughter of Henry D. and Emma (Toles) Lockwood, of Beloit, Wis. the latter of whom is deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert are the parents of two promising children, Henry S. and Cora E., both of whom are now students in the Oregon village schools.
In politics Mr. Gilbert gives and unswerving allegiance to the Republican party, although he has never entered the lists as an office seeker, and he holds a membership in the lodge of the Modern Woodman of America at Oregon.
1906 History of Dane County, Wisconsin, p. 319-320.