Biography of Robert Van Gilse

The capable and educated gentleman, of whom we now have the privilege of writing, is one of the leading fruit men of the entire northwest, being better fitted, doubtless, than most in this industry in the entire country, for in addition to the practical experience in handling nurseries and fruit farms themselves, he has received from some of the leading horticultural schools of Europe the best theoretical and practical training that is now the privilege of a man to secure.

It is with great pleasure, therefore, that we grant space here for an epitome of his interesting career. And it would give us gratification if in brief we were privileged to publish for the benefit of the fruit men of Malheur county, his valuable experience in these lines.

We will revert to the personal history of our subject and we note first that in the pure Anglo-Saxon country of Holland is his birth-place. Middleburg is the spot and June 18, 1873, is the date. His parents were J. A. and Mary Van Gilse. The father is editor of one of the most powerful journals of Holland and is a member of the Congressional body of the country, being a leader in those halls as else, in the field of journalism. Our subject attended the common school until twelve years of age at Rotterdam, then entered the Horticultural College at Amsterdam in which noted institution he finished with credit a three years’ course, graduating with distinction. Immediately succeeding this, he spent two years in practical work in the nurseries in Holland and England, being conversant with the methods employed in nurseries in both of these countries. 1892 is the date when he landed in New York and immediately he started thence for the west, landing in Payette, where he at once started a nursery. In the skillful and successful prosecution of this enterprise, the was engaged until 1896 when he sold and took a trip to Holland. In the spring of 1897 he returned and bought one hundred and sixty acres south-west from Ontario six miles. He here opened a nursery and also devotes much attention to producing fruit for the market as well as much alfalfa, having sixty-live acres of the latter and as much of the former. He has all kinds of fruit, has improved his farm in a fine manner with all buildings necessary, and has also plenty of water for irrigating. In addition to this, Mr. van Gilse has another quarter section where he is now living, two and one half miles northwest from Nyssa. This farm is newer than the other, but is well improved and has twenty-five acres planted to alfalfa and one hundred and twenty to orchard. This with his other farm makes one of the finest orchards in the entire country. And on account of the time needed in attention to this vast amount of market fruit, Mr. van Gilse has closed out his nursery stock. He is a man of great energy and in addition to this commendable work he has succeeded in bringing to this country a colony of his people and they are fast becoming the most substantial and worthy citizens of the state.

The marriage Mr. van Gilse and Miss Trien Tenses occurred on April 29, 1900, and one child is the fruit of the union, Mary. Mrs. van Gilse is also a native of Holland. We are glad to note the energy and skill that have been displayed by this worthy citizen in the progress of the interests of our county and truly Malheur county owes much to his arduous and wisely bestowed labors within her precincts. Fraternally, Mr. van Gilse is affiliated with the A. F. & N. M. Arcadia Lodge, No. 118, of Ontario, and also with the K. of P. Armour Lodge, No. 69. He is active in the interests of good government, being allied with the Democratic Party and is central committeeman of the Nyssa precinct. Our worthy President said recently of a friend, “He is a man who has done thing.” Such may well be applied to our subject. He has done things and his works proclaim him the man whom men recognize as a benefactor of the country and of his fellow men. Mr. van Gilse was the moving spirit in inaugurating the rural free delivery system.

Van Gilse,


Whitman, Marcus. An Illustrated history of Baker, Grant, Malheur and Harney Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Chicago: Western Historical Publishing Co., 1902, 871 pgs.

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