Benjamin Davis Gilbert was born in Albany of Revolutionary stock, November 21, 1835. His father died three months
before he was born and his mother six months afterward. His mother's brother, Robert Davis, was appointed his guardian
and he was brought up by him in Cooperstown, New York. He was educated at the Franklin Literary Institute in Delaware
county and from there went to Hamilton College, graduating in the class of 1857. In college Mr. Gilbert was an
honor man and member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, also the Phi Beta Kappa. After leaving college he went
to Buffalo, where for three years he was engaged in the brokerage business. In the fall of 1860 he came to Utica
and engaged in business with his cousin Robert H. Davis, the firm being Davis & Gilbert. The business was discontinued
in 1876. In 1877 Mr. Gilbert formed a connection with the Utica Morning Herald, then one of the leading papers
of Oneida county, first as literary editor and later as agricultural editor. He became secretary of the Utica Board
of Trade in 1878 and continued to serve in that capacity until April 22, 1907. In the spring of 1889 Mr. Gilbert
severed his connection with the Utica Morning Herald and removed to Clayville, New York, where he gave his time
more exclusively to his agricultural work connected with the New York State Dairy Men's Association, of which he
had become secretary. He was employed by the government to write a history of cheese making in New York state and
this was published by the agricultural department of the United States in 1898 and was very widely circulated.
Mr. Gilbert was all his life a student of botany and made a specialty of the study of ferns and became an authority
on the subject, naming many of the rare ferns for the large herbariums His private collection enhanced specimens
from all over the world and was known as the finest private collection in this country. He traveled much in tropical
lands collecting rare specimens. His travels covered southern California, our southern states, the islands of Bermuda.
St. Thomas, Martinique, Jamaica, and Europe. He revised the list of Bermuda ferns and his pamphlet on that subject
was accepted as authority, as was also his fern list of North American pteridiphites. He was a well known contributor
to the scientific publications of this country and Europe. His fern collection and botanical library were given
to the Utica public library to form the nucleus of a scientific department in that institution. Mr. Gilbert was
a member of the Oneida Historical Society and the New York State Society of Colonial Wars.
Mr. Gilbert was three times married. His first wife was Miss Amelia A. Dutton, of Meredith, Delaware county, New
York, whom he married in 1858 and who died in 1861. He next married Adelaide H. Thorne, of Utica, New York, who
died in January, 1881, leaving one son, Benjamin Thorne Gilbert, of Utica. In 1886 he married Sarah Jeannette Millard,
of Clayville, New York. Mr. Gilbert died June 3, 1907.
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Oneida County, NY
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