HON. MILES FREDERICK GILBERT, LL. B., whose career at the bar of Cairo has been long and honorable, was born in Alton, Illinois, on September 11, 1849. His father, Judge Miles A. Gilbert, belonged to the Hartford branch of this New England family of Colonial origin. Judge Gilbert was born at Hartford, Connecticut, and his lineage runs back into the history of the English Gilberts whose men of distinction contributed to the art, science and literature of the island empire when a mere kingdom marked its boundaries and when chivalrous knighthood made "merry England" and furnished food for the poetic imagination.
The family of Gilberts in America originated with the arrival of five brothers from Norfolkshire, England. These distributed themselves to the colonies of Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut. At Hartford and New Haven two of the brothers made their homes. Miles A. Gilbert was a son of Merritt Gilbert, who died in Tolland, Connecticut, and he grew up in the collegiate atmosphere for which the "Nutmeg commonwealth" is famous. He abandoned the scenes of his childhood when he was about eighteen years of age for a life conquest in the Mississippi Valley. He lived for many years at old Kaskaskia, the first settlement in Illinois. From thence he removed to Alton, at which time he, with the late Judge Breeze, entered a tract of Government land, upon part of which the city of Cairo now stands. He removed to Ste. Genevieve county, Missouri, and there he was elected county judge and remained on the bench for sixteen years. In the discharge of his official duties he demonstrated much ability, administered justice impartially and won the plaudits of a pleased people. His citizenship abounded in integrity and unselfishness, and honor was stamped upon his public and private life. At Alton he was married to Miss Ann E. Baker, a daughter
of Senator David J. Baker, a scholarly gentleman and a graduate of Hamilton College, New York. Mrs. Gilbert died on July 14, 1893, leaving two sons, William B., a distinguished member of the Cairo bar, and Miles Frederick, the subject of this review. Judge Gilbert passed away in St. Mary's county, Missouri, in 1904. Through his mother, a Miss Tuttle, he was a descendant of Revolutionary stock, his maternal grandfather having worn the Continental uniform and having given his service toward winning our independence.
Miles Frederick Gilbert completed his course in the Alton high school and then became a student of Washington University, St. Louis. A threatened breakdown of his health soon forced his retirement from that institution, and after recuperating for a time he entered the Pennsylvania Military College at Chester, Pennsylvania. After finishing there his work in literature and the sciences he enrolled as a student in the law department of Harvard College and was graduated in law January 29, 1869, receiving the degree of LL. B.
While preparing for his profession his studious habits manifested themselves and a decided love for books has characterized him all through life. He decided on the law as his profession very early in life and began reading on this subject before his entrance at Harvard, in the office of Haynie, Marshall & Gilbert in Cairo, and was admitted to the bar upon examination of a committee composed of States Attorney McCartney and Judge Olney. After his work at Harvard was completed he entered upon the practice of law in Cairo, January 1, 1870, as a member of the firm of Green and Gilbert. In 1875 he was admitted to practice in all the federal courts and in 1892 before the supreme court of the United States. During the past quarter of a century his practice has invaded the domain of corporation business, and the success of his efforts tells more convincingly than words how effective his labors have been.
His connection with business affairs in Cairo has been well known, like that of his political life. He administered upon the interests of the Board of Trade and of the Loan and Improvement Assocation as president of both organizations. He is a member and officer of the Episcopal church and has represented his parish in the Diocesan Synod and the Diocese as a deputy to the General Convention for nine years. He served on the committee on constitutional amendments, served eight years as Judge of the Court of Review of the American Church (Episcopal) in United States, and is one of the board of trustees of the Western Theological Seminary and is a member of its board of incorporators. He is chancellor of the Diocese of Springfield and one of the Governors of the Country Club.
In politics Mr. Gilbert is a Democrat. He is chairman of the Alexander County Central Committee of his party; has served as president of the Illinois Club, and of the Alexander Club, also serving the latter on its governing board; and for nineteen years was a member of the board of education, and its president for ten years.
Mr. Gilbert was married in Alton, Illinois, October 18, 1875, to Miss Addie Louise, a daughter of Amasa S. Barry, of Chicago. Mr. Barry was a wholesale druggist in his vocation. He married Miss Katherine Riley. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert: Nellie, now Mrs. Samuel Halliday, of Cairo, and Edward L., one of the capable young business men of this city.