Major George Clinton Gibbs
By Karen Cuccinello 2-2019
I wrote this article because I wanted to double check that the photography of the house at 134 West Main Street was George C. Gibbs house and since his name comes up a lot in the news I figured I would write about him. Gibbs was an extremely active man who lived most of his life in Stamford. He was a farmer, school teacher, carpenter, NYS Assemblyman, merchant, architect, inventor, surveyor, justice, real estate agent contractor and house builder. He also served with the Union Army for almost the entire four years of the Civil War 1861-1865. Research was a bit tricky at times because there was another George C. Gibbs who was a Confederate officer.
George Gibbs was born in Harpersfield, NY January 6, 1932 to John Wesley and Dorothea Louisa (Merriam) Gibbs. He is living with his family in Jefferson in 1850 and in the 1860 census for Harpersfield, George lists as a carpenter and is living with David E. Patchin. The 1865 census for Jefferson, NY states that John and Martha had a total of eight children, five were listed in the household; George C., Cyrenus C., Charles W., Albert D. and Richard. Charles enlisted the same day as George, August 19, 1861 in Delhi, NY, was appointed a bugler in the same regiment, Company E 3rd NY Cavalry, and was mustered out August 21, 1864 in Bermuda Hundred, VA.
I was suspicious of a first wife that I found for George in the “Gibbs Genealogy 1629-1966” book that is housed in the Stamford Village Library history room because there was no mention of a first wife any where else. Upon further research I found the first wife Ophelia S. (S. for Selina) wife of George C. Gibbs in the Stewart cemetery in Jefferson on findagrave.com. She was born February 23, 1835 to Elijah and Abigal Stewart and died August 29, 1857. She was with her family, age 21, in the 1855 Jefferson census, so they were married about one year in 1856.
Georges service is fully listed online in the Union College Alumni in the Civil War, although I did not find any other mention of him attending Union. This list matches his military abstracts. Private 3rd NY Cavalry, August 19, 1861- 1st Sergeant 3rd NY Cavalry December 25, 1861- 2nd Lieut. 3rd NY Cavalry December 27, 1862 - 1st Lieut. 3rd NY Cavalry February 2, 1863 - Captain 3rd NY Cavalry December 22, 1864 - Captain 1st Regiment NY Mounted Rifles July 21-September 6, 1865 - Captain 4th Regiment NY Mounted Rifles November 29, 1865, when regiment was mustered out. On May 18, 1866 NYS Governor Reuben Fenton commissioned George a Brevet-Major of NY Volunteers for “gallant and meritorious services.” His Civil War Muster Roll Abstract states he had blue eyes, brown hair, dark complexion and was 5'10”. He was missing in action June 30, 1864 and wounded in the left leg and arm October 7, 1864.
In 1867 he is a stove and tin dealer in Stamford (he sold this business in 1872) and a NYS Assemblyman. He was an officer in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Cormack Post No. 38 Delhi, NY in 1868. In 1870 he's an officer with Delta Chapter #185 Royal Arch Masons of Stamford and he installed one of his Turbine Water Wheels in the new Stamford Mirror newspaper building. He was also an officer of St. Andrews Masonic Lodge #289 of Hobart.
The year 1871 was a busy year. George is advertising his Gibb's Iron Turbine Water Wheel and he is the supervisor of Harpersfield. On May 18, 1871 he married Mrs Laura (Lockwood) Derne in Franklin, Warren County, OH. They left for Stamford after the wedding with Laura's daughter, Annie who had been born about 1861.
The Gibbs Genealogy stated that Laura Dern, divorced her first husband, George Dern, but everything else I saw stated that he died shortly after the war. Well Major George Frederick Dern died July 25, 1895 and is buried in Middleburg, MD. Interestingly George Dern served in the same regiments as George Gibbs.
George built his home on West Main about 1872 for his new wife Laura. Thank You to Cathy Straus Adams, the current home owner, who helped me with research. The Gibbs had one son, Ransom Lockwood Gibbs, who became a lawyer and practiced in Stamford for about 8 years before moving to Sioux Falls,SD. The house at 132 West Main was built by Gibbs in 1899 for his sons law office.
In 1875 he was a Judge at the Delaware County Fair and in 1879 he was the delegate for Harpersfield at the Delaware County Farmers Alliance. In 1880 he's a member of GAR England Post No. 142 of Delhi, a census Enumerator for Harpersfield and he applied for a military pension. He spoke at The Republican League in Delhi in 1888 and was a delegate for Harpersfield at the Republican County Convention in 1894. In 1899 and 1900 he is a Justice at Harpersfield. In 1903 George sold his shop and the land adjoining on Harper street and proposed a scheme to raise $4,000 to establish a line of automobiles to carry passengers from the railroad depot to the different hotels during the summer. In 1906 he and Laura moved to Franklin,OH.
Gibbs built the following buildings, that I know of, in Stamford unless otherwise noted: 1882 built the 1st tower (temporary) on Mt Utsayantha for Ruliffson and built a second tower;1883 summer cottage on Seminary Hill for J. Kirkner (burned 1931), Churchill Hall built by Gibbs & Menzie of Delhi (razed 1945) and Grace Chapel Episcopal Church (standing unoccupied); 1885 the new Delaware County jail and added on to the Methodist Church in Delhi; 1886 Presbyterian Church; 1888 drug store of Geo. I. Hager (another article about this building at 60 Main St. states Alfred Jenkins of Roxbury was the contractor, building still stands); 1891 New Grant House (dismantled 1970); 1894 annex to Churchill Hall and Hall Cottage in South Gilboa; 1896 ice house at the jail in Delhi; 1897 constructed kitchen and dining room in Presbyterian Church basement and 1898 he was supervising architect for the Rexmere. It is also stated that he built the Churchill cottages and Dr. Stephen E. Churchill's home The Colonial (now a B&B). Another source states that The Colonial was built by Arthur Fink in 1902.
George C. Gibbs died in Miami, Montgomery County, OH on July 14, 1914 age 82 years 6 months and 8 days. Cause of death was general debility, a fall in April 1914 and old age. He, his wife Laura (1841-1929) and son Ransom (1873-1942) are buried at Woodhill Cemetery in Franklin, OH. There is a Civil War photo of George on findagrave.com.