Biography of Samuel J. R. Gilbert
Tulare County, CA Biographies





SAMUEL J. R. GILBERT.
Within recent years much has been said and written about "get rich quick" schemes, but the desire to get rich quick is one of the oldest in the make up of the average human being. When gold was discovered in California in 1849, people from all parts of the country flocked to the Pacific coast, each one hoping to be among those fortunate enough to pluck fortune from the gold mines. Among those who crossed the plains in that year was J. R. Gilbert, who was born in Woodstock, Vermont, in 1806, but who at the time of the gold strike was living in Ohio. He was captain of an emigrant company, drove a mule team and located in Shasta county, California. Three years later he returned to Ohio and brought his wife and son, Samuel J. R., via the Isthmus of Panama. The family settled in Shasta county, where J. R. Gilbert was engaged in merchandising, and in 1868 he left Shasta, going to what was widely known as "Gilbert's Ferry" across the Sacramento river, operating this for ten years.

Samuel J. R. Gilbert, the son of this Shasta county pioneer, was born in 1847 in Akron, Ohio. Although he was only five years old when he crossed the Isthmus of Panama with his parents in 1852, he remembers that the party made the trip across the isthmus riding mules, which were driven by natives. He grew to manhood and attended the schools of the old town of Shasta, where he acquired a good practical education. Until 1878 he lived with his parents, assisting his father upon the farm and in the management of the ferry. He then opened a hardware store in the town of Redding, a short distance southeast of Shasta. When it was proposed to remove the county seat from Shasta to Redding, Mr. Gilbert was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the proposition. He worked early and late in circulating petitions and visited all parts of the county in his efforts to secure signatures. In the end he saw his hope realized and Redding became the county seat. While in Redding, Mr. Gilbert served on the school board and was for some time the secretary of the electric light plant and waterworks.

After leaving Redding, Mr. Gilbert was in the hardware business in Hanford, Bakersfield and Fresno, successively. In 1895 he went to Porterville as manager of the Delany Hardware Company, remaining with that concern for about five years. Then forming a partnership with his son, Fred S. Gilbert, a master plumber and sheet metal worker, under the firm name of Gilbert & Son, on August 1, 1900, they opened the present place of business at No. 424 East Main street, Visalia. This firm installed the plumbing in the Harvey Hotel, the Osborn House and a number of other buildings, including the new Sweet block and some of Visalia's finest homes. Fred S. Gilbert died in 1918, but the business has been continued under the old firm name.

Mr. Gilbert is a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, being a past master of Porterville Lodge, a member of the Royal Arch chapter, a past commander of Visalia Commandery of Knights Templars, and a member of Islam Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. Fred S. Gilbert, his son, was a past master of Visalia Lodge No. 128, F. & A. M.

Samuel J. R. Gilbert was married to Miss Elizabeth Wilhelm in Shasta, January 1, 1866, and five of the children born to them are living: Mrs. F. W. Velie, whose husband is cashier of the First National Bank of Redding; Mrs. Eaton of Redding; Dr. G. W. Gilbert, a dentist of Fresno; J. R. and Walter F. Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert has ten grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren living. Mrs. Gilbert passed away in Visalia, in April, 1905. Mr. Gilbert was married to his present wife, who was Ellen Frances Scott, on November 7, 1907, the mother of John W. and Lawrence F. Scott, two well known electricians, born and reared in Visalia.

From:
History of Tulare County, California
By: Kathleen Edwards Small
and
Kings County, California
By: J. Larry Smith
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1926


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