Biography of William C. Gilbreath of Mandan, North Dakota

William C. Gilbreath, born on September 9, 1851, in McMinn County, Tennessee, played a significant role in his community’s development. After his father’s death, his family moved to Illinois, where he attended public school and graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1874. Gilbreath engaged in mercantile and banking businesses and served in the Illinois National Guard. He moved to Iowa in 1878, pursued various businesses, and worked in the newspaper industry. In 1901, he became North Dakota’s deputy commissioner of insurance and later served as Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor. He married Lillie D. Lyon in 1874, and they had three children.

W C Gilbreath
W C Gilbreath

William 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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