Biography of Thomas H. Gilham

THOMAS H. GILHAM. – Although born in another state, the subject of this sketch is practically a product of Union county, being educated here and here achieving the success that has attended him in his labors, while he has ever manifested a stanch and unswerving integrity and adherence to the principles of uprightness, laboring for the advancement and upbuilding of the county, as well as prosecuting with vigor and sagacity the private business enterprises that have occupied him.

Thomas H. Gilham was born in Siskiyou county, California, on February 13, 1858, being the son of Calvit A. and Almeda (Howell) Gilham. His father was a “Forty-niner” to California from Iowa and while the son was still young came with his family to Josephine county, Oregon and later migrated to the Willamette valley and as early as 1863 was a resident of the Grande Ronde valley. He was a blacksmith by trade and opened a shop in Lagrande, where he beat the anvil to the time of industry and honesty until 1868 and then removed to Island City and there opened the first shop in that town. He bought one hundred and sixty acres of land and supervised a general farming industry until about 1888, when he returned to Iowa and is living in his early home state at the present time. Our subject attended school in Lagrande, gaining, a good education and when he had arrived at sufficient age, rented his father’s farm, working the same until 1882. He also served two years as apprentice in a drug store in Island City, and in 1885 purchased his present place, near Alicel. He first bought eighty acres and then added later one hundred more. Twenty of this is timber but the balance is all tilled. He raises good cros of the cereals and has seven acres planted to various kinds of fruit, largely winter apples. Mr. Gilham takes great interest in the culture of fruit and has made good progress in this industry.

On June 15, 1881, Mr. Gilham married Miss Flora, daughter of Edward T. and Margarette (McGuire) Neville, and they have been blessed with two children, Almeda, at school in Lagrande and Earl, at home. Mrs. Gilham’s father was an early pioneer to California, 1850 being the date of his advent there. In 1871 they came to Union county and opened up the first farm on Sand Ridge. Mrs. Gilham’s father was county commissioner of Union county when the court house was built and was a faithful and capable officer. Mr. Gilham has been a member of the county central committee, where his coucils were valuable in the interests of his party. He has also been judge of the election several times and in 1898 he was nominated for county judge, and although his nomination was unanimous, he was defeated in the election by sevnety-seven votes. Mr. Gilham has also been delegate to the state convention. He has three brothers, one G.W. Gilham, being representative to the state legislature from Grant county, Montana; another C.A. Gilham, living in Malheur county. Our subject is identified with the Methodist church, south, and is active in the interests of his faith. He has been in the county from the earliest day and is well acquainted with its history, progress and development and has in all these years maintained an unsullied reputation and displayed a sagacity and intrinsic worth that stamp him as a leader and which eminently qualify him to receive both the esteem and respect of his fellows, which we are constrained to say, he enjoys in an unstinted measure.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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