Biography of George Gilland

It was in a very early day that Mr. Gilland found the “Way of the West” and since the first he has constantly remained, laboring actively and intelligently in various capacities. At the present time his home is about one mile west from Rosetta, while also he is much of the time residing in Rosetta.

George Gilland was born in Saint Catherines, Ontario, on January 4, 1830, being the son of Alexander and Alice Gilland, natives of Ireland where they were married and came to Canada shortly before our subject was born. This stanch Irish blood is one of the secrets of the sturdy qualities of our subject and of the strenuous life he has lived. His father originally spelled his name Gilliland. He died in December, 1873, aged sixty-five. He was a prominent and influential citizen in Michigan as also in other places where he resided. The mother of our subject lived with her husband three years in Canada and then they went to Brooklyn, where Mr. Gilland opened a paint factory, then operated a lumber yard, and afterwards they came to Michigan.

Our subject was raised in Brooklyn until sixteen and then came with the balance of the family to Wayne County, Michigan, and settled near Detroit. Later they went to Shiawassee County and there the parents died. At the first draft of the war Mr. Gilland was taken, but his father hired a substitute for nine hundred dollars and George went free.

In 1865 our subject came west and contracted ties and square timbers for the Union Pacific, remaining in this until 1868, when he made his way to Tacoma. He helped build the first sawmill there, the old Tacoma. Seattle was then a town of four hundred people. Mr. Gilland labored there and in various portions of Puget Sound until 1891, excepting one year which was spent in mining in Alaska, in which trip, he was far above Klondike.

In 1891 Mr. Gilland came to Moscow and two years later went to Southwick where he operated a mill for one year. Then he mined around Pierce for four years and in June, 1901, he bought his present place about fine and one-half miles northwest from Ellensburg. He rents this farm, as also other property which he owns. Mr. Gilland is a heavy property owner on the Sound, having much improved property in Tacoma, Seattle and various other points, as well as considerable unimproved property. In addition he has a goodly holding in British Columbia. In all these years of toil and activity on the frontier, Mr. Gilland has never deserted the ranks of the bachelors and is still enjoying the quietude and retirement of the celibatarian.

He is a member of the A. F. & A. M. No. 2. at Steilacoom, Washington. In politics, Mr. Gilland is a staunch and intelligent Democrat and is able to handle the questions of the day with keen insight and discriminating judgment and is possessed of abundance of courage and ability to speak out his convictions. He is a potent factor at the conventions and is a man of extensive research and investigation, being a careful thinker and wide reader. Mr. Gilland has one brother and one sister, Edward, a wealthy and prominent farmer in Michigan; Alice, wife of Charles Darrows, a merchant in Traverse City, Michigan.

Mr. Gilland has had many experiences in the frontiersman’s life and if they were related would fill a volume. During the labors on the Union Pacific, he fought frequently with the Indians and once was wounded with an arrow. He has had many narrow escapes and experienced many thrilling episodes. He is a man of public spirit, is genial and affable and has hosts of warm friends. His large holdings give him ample time to travel and investigate the various lines which his desires may indicate; he has kept fully abreast of the times and is one of the substantial men of Nez Perces County, well known, highly respected and fully worthy of the unbounded confidence and esteem generously granted him by all.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903

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