Pages 336 - 337
N. A. GILBERT was born in
Manitowoc, Wis., November 22, 1863, and is a son of Gilbert and Mary Kjok.
The father, who was a silversmith, and also owned two large farms in Valders,
Norway, emigrated, in 1851 with his family to Manitowoc, Wis., which was
then a small place, and, purchasing land in its primitive condition, began
the development of a farm in the midst of the wilderness. He cleared and
improved the land, and made his home thereon until 1864, when he sold that
place and moved to the city of Manitowoc, where he engaged in ship carpentering.
There he made his home until 1883, when, with his family, came to Wittenberg,
which at that contained only one store. Here he again bought land and once
more went through the hardships incident to pioneer life. Again he cleared
and developed a farm, and continued its cultivation until 1885, when he
sold to his son-in-law, Ole Nelson, who now lives upon the place. Mr. and
Mrs. Kjok have since lived with our subject, the father, now at the age
of eighty years, the latter being sixty-nine years old. In their family
were six children, of whom Anna and John, the two eldest; are now deceased;
the others are Maria, wife of Ole Nelson, a carpenter and farmer of Wittenberg,
by whom she has two sons and six daughters; Martin, who has taken up a
homestead in Canada, where he now makes his home; Nels A., subject of this
sketch; and George, who is located in Denver, Colorado.
Mr. Gilbert received a common-school education and remained at
home until sixteen years of age, when he started out in life for himself,
being first employed in the lumber woods and on the river. He afterward
worked at railroading and anything that he could find to do in order to
secure an honest livelihood. He also followed carpentering and painting.
In 1892 Mr. Gilbert wedded Mary Ida Colby, who was born in Primrose, Dane
Co., Wis., January 13, 1866, a daughter of Eli and Ellen (Charleson) Colby.
They were both natives of Norway, and came with their respective families
to America, their marriage being celebrated in Primrose. They began
their domestic life upon a farm which Mr. Colby there purchased, and reared
a family of twelve children, as follows: Charlie, a farmer of Primrose,
Wis.; Mrs. Gilbert; Ella, widow of Henry Miles, and a resident of Dane
county, Wis.; Lizzie, wife of W. E. Wilson, principal of the schools of
Wittenberg; Joseph, who operates the homestead of 220 acres near Primrose;
Julia, deceased; Nora, who lives with her mother at Mt. Horeb, Dane Co.,
Wis.; William, at home; Clara, who is attending college at Mt. Horeb; Norman,
Frank and Jessie, at home.
Mrs. Gilbert received good educational privileges, including
instruction in a business college, and she also attended a school where
she fitted herself for her present position of landlady of a hotel. Until
1887, she remained at home and then went to Madison, where she was employed
as bookkeeper in a wholesale house, filling that responsible position some
five years, and then came to Wittenberg. In the meantime her father had
died on the old homestead passing away in 1888, at the age of fifty-nine.
Her mother afterward purchased a hotel and farm at Wittenberg, and made
it her home for two years, when she sold out to Mr. Gilbert and returned
to Primrose. She now resides in Mt. Horeb, while our subject and his wife
are successfully engaged in carrying on the hotel at Wittenberg. They have
secured an excellent patronage, and their well-conducted house well merits
the support that is given it. Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert are faithful members
of the Lutheran Church. In politics he has always been a stalwart Republican,
and in his social relations is connected with Wittenberg Lodge, No. 214,
I.O.O.F. and he and his wife have many warm friends.