Oren M. Gillett, the organizer of the Commercial State Bank of Independence and now its president, is a forceful
and resourceful business man whose ability seems to qualify him to meet any emergency and direct any condition
that may arise in the course of his active career. What he undertakes he accomplishes, not by reason of the possession
of uncommon qualities but because he makes good use of his time, his talents and his opportunities.
He was born at Bergen, Genesee county, New York, March 12, 1850, a son of John M. and Mabel (Lee) Gillett. The
father's birth occurred in Kinderhook, New York, in 1809, and the mother's birth occurred in Bergen in 1815. In
early life John M. Gillett was a steamboat captain on the Hudson, and for a number of years he was also engaged
in merchandising in Troy, New York. In the year 1867 he came to the west, making his way direct to Buchanan county,
Iowa, settling on a farm near Independence, now known as the Shady Grove Farm, upon which he lived for two years.
In 1870 he took up his abode in Independence, where he lived retired from active business to the time of his death,
which occurred in 1883 His widow long survived him and passed away 1907. Their family numbered four children, of
whom three are living: Hannah A., the widow of O. S. Throop and a resident of Cherokee, Iowa; D. L., who resides
at Denison, Iowa, where he is engaged in farming; and Oren M. The other member of the family was B. F. Gillett,
who made his home in Buchanan county. He entered railway circles in the employ of the New York Central and was
employed by the government during the Civil war. Later he became a passenger conductor on the Memphis & Charleston
Railroad and subsequently established his home in Buchanan county, continuing in railway service as a conductor.
His death occurred May 29, 1913.
Oren M. Gillett was a pupil in the public schools of Batavia, New York, and became a student in the academic department
of the Union school at Batavia. When eighteen years of age he began teaching and thus he earned the money with
which to pay the expenses of his later education. For four terms he followed the profession of teaching. He became
a law student in the office of his uncle, E. S. Lee, of Independence, who was the first mayor of this city, and
in 1875 Mr. Gillett was admitted to the bar. Several years later he was elected clerk of the court, taking the
office in 1880. His capability is plainly indicated in the fact that he was five times chosen for that position,
which he continued to fill until January, 1890, when he resigned and assisted in organizing the Commercial State
Bank, of which he became the first cashier. He filled that position for a year and a half and was then elected
to the presidency, since which time he has been at the head of the bank, which is recognized as one of the strong
moneyed institutions of this part of the state. The policy which he has inaugurated is one which commends itself
to the support and confidence of the public at large and the bank has enjoyed a steady growth from the beginning,
its deposits and its business along other lines constantly increasing. Mr. Gillett also owns land in this county
and is today numbered among the prosperous residents of Independence, a position to which he has attained entirely
through his individual effort and ability.
On the 3d of November, 1873, occurred the marriage of Mr. Gillett and Miss Emma L. Dyer, a native of Independence,
who in early life was brought to Iowa by her parents, James A. and Jane (Minton) Dyer. Her father assisted in building
a mill at Independence and here engaged in the milling business for a time. To Mr. and Mrs. Gillett was born a
daughter, Mabel, who is now the widow of Dr. Carl W. Rummel and resides with her parents. She has one child, Marion.
In his Political views Mr. Gillett is a stalwart republican and has filled various local offices, the duties of
which he has discharged with promptness and fidelity, making an excellent record in that connection. He has served
on the city council, is a member of the library board and a trustee of the Munson Industrial School, and was a
delegate to the national convention that nominated Theodore Roosevelt for president. Fraternally he is connected
with the blue lodge, chapter and commandery in Masonry and with the Mystic Shrine. He is also a prominent member
of the Knights of Pythias and for one year was grand chancellor of Iowa. His genuine personal worth and his fidelity
to the principles of these fraternities have gained him the high and enduring regard of his fellow members. Mrs.
Gillett is a member of the Pythian Sisters and the Ladies' Literary Club, while he belongs to the Country Club.
The record which he has made in official and business circles establishes him as one of the leading citizens of
Independence, and through the years of his residence here he has gained a circle of friends that is almost coextensive
with the circle of his acquaintance.
History of Bachanan County, Iowa
And its People
By Harry Church and Katharyn J. Chappell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Bachanan County, IA
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