"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"

Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.


Gilley, William T. mayor of Rhinelander, also manager of the Oneida Milk and Ice Cream Company, of Rhinelander, was born in the state of Kentucky, March 24, 1881, son of Jonathan and Belle (VAN CLEVE) GILLEY. The father was a native of Virginia and the mother of Kentucky. In 1898 they came to Oneida County, Wisconsin, locating in Rhinelander, where Jonathan GILLEY passed away in the fall of the following year, 1889. The mother is now living in Portland, Ore. William T. GILLEY acquired his education in the public schools of Kentucky, being reared in his native state. He was 17 years old when he came with his parents to Rhinelander, and for two years thereafter he followed in succession several different lines of industry. In the year 1900 he was made superintendent of the Wisconsin Veneer's Co.'s plant, a position that he held for 12 years. At the end of that time he changed his occupation, buying a farm of 159 acres in Section 28, Pelican Township; the land was partly improved but there were no buildings. Mr. GILLEY set to work at once to remedy that defect, and soon had erected an eight-room residence, a fine barn 34x48 feet, and all necessary out-buildings. He also broke and cleared many additional acres of the land and there followed dairy and general farming for nine years very successfully. His farm was well stocked with Guernsey and Holstein graded cattle, with a full-blooded Guernsey sire at the head. In the spring of 1922 Mr. GILLEY with four others purchased the business with which he is now connected, and of which he was chosen manager. They have enlarged the plant by two additions of 20x30 feet each and installed modern machinery and all appliances necessary for carrying on the work on a thorough and profitable basis. Among these is an ice-machine, which was installed at a cost of $3,000. The company manufactures all kinds and flavors of ice cream in popular demand, catering both to the wholesale and retail trade. They also do a good retail business in milk and cream, canned goods and package groceries. Their place of business is located at No. 120 S. Stevens Street. Mr. GILLEY is also president of the Oneida County Agricultural Society. He has taken an active part in various things connected with the development of the county, including the affairs of local government. For a number of years he served as chairman of the Pelican town board of supervisors, by virtue of that office becoming a member of the Oneida County board, and for three years he was chairman also of the latter body, being the youngest man who ever held that office. He was also alderman for six years for the Sixth Ward of Rhinelander, being the youngest alderman very elected in the city. That he had already made a satisfactory record in public life is proved by the fact that on April 3, 1923, he was elected to the office of mayor and entered upon his duties May 15. He made few changes in the different city committees but at once gave his attention toward effecting some needed improvements in the city streets and sewers, contemplating an expenditure of some $100,000, a $72,000 contract being let June 10. Such facts go for to show that Mr. GILLEY possesses a forceful character accompanied by qualities that raise him high in the opinion of his fellow citizens, and it may be added that he has never betrayed their confidence. On April 13, 1902, Mr. GILLEY was married in Rhinelander to Josephine FISHBECH, who was born at Muckwa, Wis., Feb. 16, 1880. He and his wife have been the parents of six children, of whom Winthrop Truman, born Sept. 18, 1904, was married in January, 1922, to Clara KOPESCHKE and has one child, William. The second child, May, was born Feb. 2, 1910, and is now a pupil in the Rhinelander High School. The others, with respective birth-dates, are as follows: Harold, Dec. 31, 1912; Leonard, April 1, 1916; Frank, Dec. 21, 1917; and Clarence, May 11, 1919. The religious faith of the Gilley family is that of the Episcopal Church. Politically Mr. GILLEY is a Republican.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 306-307 (with picture), History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.

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