Uri Gilbert
Uri Gilbert

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

URI GILBERT. The history of Troy City would be incomplete without giving in its pages a narration of a few facts connected with the life of one of its leading and substantial business men, - Mr. Uri Gilbert, who for over fifty years has been an important factor, not only in the manufacturing interests of Troy, but of the United States.

His ancestors were among the early settlers of Connecticut. His father, Rev. John D. Gilbert, was born at Reading, Conn., Aug. 29, 1782; married Susan Thomas, a native of Savannah, Ga. Of this union were born five children, - four sons and one daughter, of whom he is the second son, born in Broadalbin, Fulton Co., N. Y., July 10, 1809. For some forty years his father was a devoted Episcopalian minister, and died at Painted Post, N. Y., March 11, 1857. His mother died March 22, 1864, at the age of eighty-eight.

Mr. Gilbert's boyhood was spent at home in the usual routine of school life. At the age of fifteen he came to Troy and commenced learning the trade of carriage making with Orsamus Eaton, and in 1830 was admitted to a partnership with that gentleman. This firm, styled "Eaton & Gilbert," carried on the trade already begun more extensively, and supplied largely the mail coaches for the South and West by contract with the United States mail contractors, and the term "Troy stages" became a synonym for strength, elegance, and durability, and the work of the concern was to be found running in all parts of the Union, and also in Mexico. This firm also nearly monopolized the manufacture of omnibuses for New York and surrounding cities. Upon the introduction of street card they furnished nearly all the cars used in Boston and for many of the leading lines of New York; and from the beginning of steam railroading their cars have held a leading place in the United States. In 1862, Mr. Eaton retired from te firm, and in 1864 Mr. Walter R. Bush became a partner, under the firm name of Gilbert, Bush & Co. This firm is known in foreign countries, and has furnished one-half of the cars in use in South America, and made large shipments to Cuba, Australia, and New Zealand, thereby making strong competition with English manufacturers.

Mr. Gilbert has lived to watch the progress of American steam railroading from a mere experiment to its present wonderful proportions, and also has the gratification of knowing that the establishment on "Green Island," of which he is the head, has kept pace with that marvelous growth, and traces its origin to the modest little carriage works of sixty years ago.

In matters of local interest he is among the first to assist in enterprises tending towards the prosperity of the city of the educational institutions of its people. He was one of the organizers of the "Young Men's Association of Troy," - an institution the influence of which has been felt beyond the limits of the city, - and for one year was its president. He officiates on the board of trustees of the Troy Polytechnic Institute, of the Orphan Asylum, and is one of the governors of the Marshall Infirmary. In his business relation he was a director in the Farmers' Bank until its close, and has been a director of the United National Bank since its organization. Mr. Gilbert has devoted his life almost wholly to business pursuits; he has never been an active politician, yet always interested in local and national legislation.

He was formerly identified with the Whig party, and has been unswervingly a supporter of the Republican platform.

In 1840 he was chosen to represent the Third Ward in the City Council, which office he held continuously for seven years, except for 1845, and was elected mayor of the city of Troy for the years 1865-70.

Mr. Gilbert is a man of wide breadth of thought in business matters, far-seeing and sagacious, and posseses that positive element as a characteristic which enables him to engage in large enterprises and carry forward to a successful completion whatever he undertakes. His integrity in all business relations, his sound judgement and even temperment, his social and genial qualities, have won for him the confidence of his fellow citizens.

In 1832 he married Frances Harriet, daughter of Josiah and Polly Granger, of Schenedtady. Their children are Mary, William L. (deceased), William E., Frances Adelaide, Edward G., and Josephine Louise (deceased). His two sons, William E. and Edward G., are associated with him in business.

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