Hamilton H. Gilkyson, Jr.
Hamilton H. Gilkyson, Jr.

544                          HISTORY OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY

    HAMILTON H. GILKYSON, JR.--In business, civic, financial and social affairs in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and vicinity Hamilton H. Gilkyson, Jr., occupies an important position. He has been identified with the fire insurance business throughout practically his entire career. In addition to his responsibilities as chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors of the Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Chester County, the largest Mutual Fire Insurance Company in the State of Pennsylvania, he is also on the board of directors of the Farmers' and Mechanics' National Bank of Phoenixville, and one of the directors of the Phoenixville Publishing Company, publishers of the Phoenixville daily papers. He is also closely identified with two other fire insurance companies, being secretary and treasurer of one and a member of the board of directors of another.

                                    BIOGRAPHICAL                                  545

    Mr. Gilkyson has always been interested in outdoor sports; he is one of the founders of the Phoenixville Country Club, and has served as secretary of the club since its inception. He is also a member of the Pickering Hunt Club.
    Mr. Gilkyson's home is in Mont Clare. The old Colonial house in which he resides was the home of his wife, Phoebe Hunter, daughter of Charles Field and Grace (Thompson) Hunter, to whom he was married in 1912. The house was built in 1843 by Mrs. Gilkyson's great-grandfather, Joseph Whitaker, at the time of his retirement from the firm of Reeves & Whitaker, now the Phoenix Iron Company, of Phoenixville. The house was named "Mont Clare" at the suggestion of Bayard Taylor, and the village derives its name from this source. Six generations of this family have lived here successively. Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker, one-time governor of Pennsylvania. spent his boyhood life here, and Mrs. Gilkyson's uncle, Hon. J. Whitaker Thompson, now a judge of the United States Court in Philadelphia, was born here and here lived until Mr. and Mrs. Gilkyson took the property upon his removal to Philadelphia in 1916.
    Mr. and Mrs. Gilkyson are the parents three children: Grace Whitaker, who was born November 23, 1913; Hamilton Henry, 3rd, who was born June l7, 1916; and a daughter, Neal, who was born February 17, 1920. Mrs. Gilkyson has achieved recognition in the literary field, her poems and stories having appeared in Scribner's, McClure's and other American Magazines.
    Hamilton H. Gilkyson, Jr., is a descendant of Colonial stock on both maternal and paternal sides. His father, Colonel H. H. Gilkyson, has been a leading member of the Chester county bar since 1870. He was a national delegate to the famous Chicago convention when Roosevelt was nominated for the presidency. As a trial lawyer, orator and editorial writer he has a brilliant reputation.
    The Gilkyson family settled in Bucks county, where the original James Gilkyson, of Scotch-Irish descent, served as first lieutenant during the Revolutionary War. His oldest son, Elias Gilkyson, great-grandfather of Hamilton H. Gilkyson, Jr., was prothonotary of Bucks county and filled a number of positions of trust. Elias Gilkyson married Elizabeth (Betsy) Wynkoop, of a distinguished Dutch family founded in America in 1639. Elizabeth Wynkoop's grandfather, Gerardus Wynkoop, was a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1774 to 1794, and served several years as Speaker of the House.
    James Gilkyson was the oldest son of Elias and Elizabeth (Betsy) (Wynkoop) Gilkyson, and grandfather of Hamilton H. Gilkyson, Jr. He was district attorney for Bucks county, and in 1862 was commissioned colonel of the 17th Pennsylvania Regiment. He married Anne E. Henry, daughter of William Hamilton Henry, and his wife Elizabeth (Neal) Henry, a celebrated beauty, as evidenced by her portrait painted by Sully. Her home before her marriage was the old Colonial residence of "Loudoun," in Germantown, which was built by her uncle, Thomas


546                          HISTORY OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Armat, in 1801. William Hamilton Henry was a son of Hugh Henry, of Philadelphia, and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1799 with the degree of Master of Arts.
    Colonel H. H. Gilkyson, father of Hamilton Henry Gilkyson, Jr., married in 1880, Nellie Trego, daughter of Thomas W. Trego, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The Trego family are descendants of Peter Trego, a native of France, who settled in Pennsylvania about the year 1685. On the maternal side, Nellie (Trego) Gilkyson is descended from Captain Richard Betts, who came to America in 1684 and located at Newtown, Long Island, where he was one of the most prominent of the English colony, a member of the New York Assembly in 1665, high sheriff from 1668 to 1681, and a judge of the High Court of the Assizes. Through her maternal grandmother, Margaret (Head) Baker, Mrs. Gilkyson is a descendant of Henry Baker, the first English settler at the point where Washington crossed the Delaware to attack the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey, Christmas night, 1776, long known as Baker's Ferry. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, and a justice of the Bucks county courts for many years. Through this connection she is a descendant of John Head; William Hudson, mayor of Philadelphia in 1725; Samuel Richardson, member of the Colonial Assembly from 1691 to 1709, and others prominently identified with the early Colonial history of Philadelphia.
    Hamilton H. Gilkyson, Jr., was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, November 4, 1882. He is a graduate of George School--a preparatory school at Newtown, Bucks county, Pennsylvania--and attended Swarthmore College for two years. He has one brother, T. Walter Gilkyson, an attorney of Philadelphia, who is well known as a contributor to the "Atlantic Monthly" and other magazines. Mr. Gilkyson's only sister, Anna, married Ralph J. Baker, a member of the firm of Hause, Evans & Baker, prominent attorneys of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
    During the World War Mr. Gilkyson was publicity manager for all of the Liberty Loan drives for the Phoenixville district, and chairman of the Victory Loan Committee. He was also chairman for the sale of war savings stamps, one of the three members of the Military Intelligence Bureau for the Phoenixville district, and a member of the Advisory Draft Board for Chester and Montgomery counties, and a member of the board of directors of the Phoenixville Chapter of the American Red Cross. He was also one of the organizers and a member of the Home Guard in Phoenixville.


Hunsicker, Clifton Swenk, "Hamilton H. Gilkyson, Jr.," Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a History, Volume 3, New York, Lewis Historical Pub. Co., 1923, pp. 544-546.

Created June 19, 2005; Revised June 19, 2005
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