Biography of W. C. Gilbreath of Mandan, North Dakota

W. C. Gilbreath, born September 9, 1851, in McMinn County, Tennessee, moved to Oregon in 1853. After his father’s death and his mother’s remarriage, they relocated to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1864. Gilbreath graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1874 and pursued mercantile and banking interests in Illinois. He also served in the Illinois National Guard. In 1878, he moved to Iowa, engaging in various businesses. By 1893, he returned to Illinois briefly before moving to North Dakota, where he became a newspaper editor and held several political positions, including Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor. He married Lillie D. Lyon in 1874 and had three children.

W C Gilbraith
W C Gilbraith

W. C. Gilbreath, who has played no small part in the development of his community, was born in McMinn County, Tennessee, September 9, 1851. Two years later, his parents moved to Oregon, where his father died. His mother remarried, and in 1864 they moved to Sangamon County, Illinois, where the subject of this sketch attended the public school. In 1869, he entered the Illinois Wesleyan University, from which he graduated with the class of 1874. He then engaged in the mercantile and banking business in Illinois for about five years, and during that time, he was a member of the Illinois National Guard and served as captain and subsequently as major of the Fifth Regiment. In the fall of 1878, he moved to Iowa and was interested in mercantile pursuits, also engaged in the grain and stock business, and subsequently purchased a newspaper and followed that vocation for the greater part of the last thirty years. He returned to Illinois in 1893 and there conducted a newspaper for a short time. In 1874, he married Miss Lillie D. Lyon, of Pontiac, Illinois. They have a family of three children.

Mr. Gilbreath, on coming to North Dakota, first located at Mandan and became part-owner and joint editor of the Mandan Pioneer. He was a member of the Republican State Central Committee for four years, two of which he served as a member of the executive committee. In January 1901, he was appointed deputy commissioner of insurance and held that position for four years. In 1904, he was nominated and elected Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor and re-elected to the same position in 1906 and 1908.

Mr. Gilbreath’s realty holdings in North Dakota are quite extensive, having had confidence in the future development of the country from his first visit, and subsequent events have proven the wisdom of his conclusions.


C.F. Cooper & Company, History of the Red River Valley, Past And Present: Including an Account of the Counties, Cities, Towns And Villages of the Valley From the Time of Their First Settlement And Formation, volumes 1-2; Grand Forks: Herald printing company, 1909.

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