Where is George?

Gilbert’s Grove is remembered by many as a popular hangout from days gone by. It was named after George Gilbert, who died 100 years ago, but from there, information was scarce and one haunting question remained.


This past March, I happened to read a post on the Holyoke page on Facebook. The post was another that made mention of Gilbert’s Grove, certainly a famous spot from my days in Holyoke, having graduated from there in 1961.

It was mentioned that the grove, west of town, was named after George Gilbert, but from there, information was blank and people were wondering about him. The big question: Where is George?

Lots of rumors existed in my day and certainly many years before and after. I am one of those who wonders, but I think the answer may be close. It may not be definitive, but likely more probable than what currently seems to be the belief.

I will begin by saying I have spent a decent number of years doing the research into the Burchett name and the many relatives tied to the name. After some 15 years, I was finally able to put it all to print and kind of closed the door on genealogy — until George Gilbert.

What follows is a quick review of facts on the gentleman as well as some with close ties to his life. This is the most basic information and could easily be expanded upon by anyone wanting to take more time. I know there is a great deal more information out there if someone wants to take the time.

A few of the items, I believe, are the clues that helped “find” George. Please note that many of the dates are approximate. Sometimes, when records were filled out, the individual (George) was not sure of the exact date or place or the recorder did not care to be exact. I found that George, over time, gave his birth date at +/- two years, so dates are most always approximate.

It is also most important to note that this short Gilbert article would not have been possible without the assistance of Marvin Skipworth, a true history bloodhound; Eldene Hinde, for never giving up; and Larry Poos, for use of his special talent. A special thanks for the assistance of others from the Phillips County Museum and help with county and Holyoke records, especially cemetery, property and court records.


Gilbert is born in Ireland

George Gilbert was born March 1, 1827 (+/- two), in Larne, County Antrim, in present-day Northern Ireland. His parents were John Gilbert (1796-1848) and Anne (McMullen) Gilbert (1795-1857). Both John and Anne were 31 when George was born. John died in 1848 and Anne in 1857, both being buried in Iowa.

A quick review of records shows that around 1840 John and Anne immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Iowa. Records indicate that George immigrated to America about 1845. His record says he was naturalized, but that record was not found.

One would wonder if George ended up in the Civil War, but the record is not clear. It shows there were one and possibly two George Gilberts in the war from Illinois, but there is not enough information to say for sure. It is my belief that he was not in the war.

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