NO other man has been so interwoven with the agricultural interests of the State,
nor so widely known in agricultural circles, in the last decade, as Hon. Z. A. Gilbert. Endowed with a love of
the farm at birth, he has been from early life up to the present time actively engaged with its work. While still
a mere boy he connected himself with his County Agricultural Society, where, from his interest in and participation
with its exhibitions and the transaction of its business, he readily attracted attention, and sooner or later served
in every capacity connected with its organization from that of Committee up to its President. One of his first
victories in this connection was the winning of first honors as a plowman against a hotly contested field.
From his own county his labors in behalf of this great industry soon took a wider range. In 1869 he was elected
a member of the State Board of Agriculture, with which organization he was connected till January, 1892, with the
interruption of but a single year. It was as Secretary of the Board of Agriculture, to which responsible position
he was elected in 1880, and in which he served for twelve years, that be became best and most widely known. Possessing
that rare combination of qualifications, a practical farmer and at the same time a student of agriculture, he readily
comprehended the needs of that industry, and promptly took a high position as an authority in all related matters,
not only in his own State. but throughout New England. Coming from the farm and still conducting its work, he was
enabled to win the confidence of those whose business he was commissioned to promote. Through his aid the Board
was brought to a high degree'of influence on the progress of the agriculture of the State. His annual volumes of
Agriculture of Maine, eleven of which were prepared and published by him during his service as Secretary, were
accepted as of marked value, and have been sought for by the reading farmers of the State with increasing demand
Mr. Gilbert's familiarity by study and by contact with all phases and branches of the agriculture and horticulture
of the State, scientific and practical, was reason for his being called to officiate in various capacities of kindred
relation. At the organization of the State Pomological Society, in 1873, he was selected as its President, in which
capacity he served for six years, taking a leading part in organizing the work of the society and in perfecting
that system and order that have since made its exhibitions models of the exhibitor's art. It has frequently been
said that no other man in the State can name as many varieties of fruit at sight as he. He was for two years State
Inspector of Fertilizers, President of the Board of Managers of the State Experiment Station during its continuance,
and for many years a Trustee of the State College, where he did valuable service in behalf of agricultural education.
In 1883 he assumed editorial charge of the Agricultural Department of the Maine Farmer, in which position he is
still engaged. In this capacity he has shown himself a writer of ability as well as an authority on agricultural
matters. During all these years, and with a weight of public duties on his bands that only a strong man could carry,
he has been managing extensive farming operations of his own and with marked business success.
Mr. Gilbert was born in 1832, in the town of Greene, where be has always lived, with the exception of a single
year, when he was at work on a farm in Massachusetts. His opportunities for schooling were limited, being confined
to the common school of his own district, with the exception of a few weeks only at Monmouth Academy. Much of his
education was gained at his parental fireside, by the evening lamp, while engaged during the day in the hard work
of the farm. He loved to study. His acquirements in scientific agriculture have been gained solely by reading and
by contact with others pursuing like investigations. In a broad sense he is a self-made man.
In private life he has always been active in all efforts for the social and moral welfare of the community in which
he has lived. Conscientious in his acts, his aim has been to search out the truth, and no influence could tempt
him to compromise his convictions. In business affairs he has through life been prompt and reliable.
In politics Mr. Gilbert has always been a Republican of strong convictions, yet liberal toward other parties. Always
active in the political affairs of his town and county, yet he has never sought or desired political office. His
taste has led him to a participation in agricultural affairs, and in that direction he has best loved to work.
At the present time he finds his highest delight in conducting his fhrm operations.