Obit: Gilman, William C. (1850 - 1931)

Contact: Audrey Roedel


----Sources: The Loyal Tribune 31 December 1931

Gilman, William C. (26 MAY 1850 - 15 DEC 1931)

William C. Gilman, age 81, the last of the original forty-two charter members of the Modern Woodman of America, died at Fond du Lac, Wis. early Tuesday morning, Dec. 15 as the result of a stroke. Mr. Gilman helped organize Lodge Number 1, M. W. A. at Lyons, Iowa, in 1888 and for the past several years he has been the only surviving charter member of this large fraternal order. Funeral services were held at Neillsville, Clark county, on Friday afternoon and interment took place in the family lot at the Neillsville cemetery.

William C. Gilman was born at Greenbush, Sheboygan county, Wisconsin on May 26, 1850. At the age of 21 years, he went to Iowa and took up a timber homestead in the northwestern part of the state. After residing on this homestead for five years, he moved up on his claim and returned to Wisconsin. Locating at Merrillan, Jackson county. He went to work in a saw mill. After remaining at Merrillan for three years, during which time he managed a lumber yard, he went to Humbird and took a position with Ed. Carter, a prominent lumberman of that section.

Mr. Gilman, who had acquired an expert knowledge of the lumbering industry, spent some tome working on the Brule river in northern Wisconsin. From there he returned to Iowa and located at Lyons. It was while working in this Iowa village that the opportunity opened to join the Modern Woodmen which was organizing its first lodge.

Each original member of the Modern Woodmen lodge was given a $1,000 life insurance policy which was paid for along with the lodge dues. Mr., Gilman held the insurance policy for a number of years before he realized that some day be worth its face value. He stated afterwards that he joined the order as an act of kindness because the organizer was a personal friend of his. Little did he or any of the original 42 charter members realize that this organization would some day be national in Character and have a membership figure in millions.

After working for four years at Lyons, Iowa, Mr. Gilman returned to Wisconsin and settled in Clark Co. He worked in the lumbering industry for a year at Humbird and then moved to Loyal, in central Clark county, where he opened a lumber yard which he owned and operated for many years.

In the fall of 1920, he sold his lumberyard at Loyal to the O. & N. Lumber company, a chain company which had yards in a number of cities and villages in north central Wisconsin, and in April 1920 moved to Neillsville to accept a position as bookkeeper at the O & N Lumber yard. For ten years Mr. Gilman kept books at the Neillsville yard and although well along in years, he was a wizard at scaling and figuring lumber and was a very steady and efficient bookkeeper.

A year ago, Mr. Gilman retired from active duties and went to Ladysmith to make his home with his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Ketel. During the past year, he had visited around Wisconsin with relatives and friends and a short time ago, while visiting a sister at Fond du Lac, Mr. Gilman was stricken with a stroke from which he never regained consciousness.

Mr. Gilman was married at Greenbush, Sheboygan county, to Miss Mary Hesler to which union two children were born. The son, Charles, is county judge of Adams county with headquarters at Friendship. The daughter, Edna is now Mrs. Emil Ketel of Ladysmith. Mrs. Gilman preceded Mr. Gilman in death several years ago.

Four years ago, Mr. Gilman was sent as a delegate from the Neillsville Modern Woodsmen lodge to the state camp which was held at Milwaukee. While at the state camp, Mr. Gilman received special honors on account of his being the only surviving member at that time and was elected as a Wisconsin delegate to attend the national M. W. A. camp at Chicago of that year. He met with special favors and privileges at the national convention and was highly honored for his part in organizing the charter Modern Woodsmen lodge.



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