COLBY, Gilbert F. & Nathan L.

Biography of Gilbert F. COLBY (son of Nathan L. COLBY)
Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago Co., IL, C. A. Church.   Chicago: Clarke, 1905, pp 280-281

The Pecatonica News is a bright and newsy weekly, and has aided in no small way in promoting the interests of the village where it is published.  It is a successful representative of the people of the place where it is located and its value in the community cannot be estimated.  Tireless in its defense of the right, and fearless in its denunciation of the evils of the age, it has won an enviable reputation among the best people of the county and its popularity is proved by a constantly increasing subscription list.

[Gilbert F. COLBY], the editor and publisher of this paper [the Pecatonica News] was born in Pecatonica, Winnebago County, IL, 19 Jul 1881, the son of Nathan L. and Ella M. (SMITH) COLBY.  [biography of Nathan L. follows that of Gilbert F.]  The father, one of the founders of the Pecatonica News, and one who during his life was one of the most influential and best known residents of the county, was born at Beloit [Rock County], WI, 20 Dec 1854, the son of Nathan D. and Sybil W. (PEASE) COLBY.  His parents came to Beloit in 1847 from ME, being among the earliest settlers.  His mother died in Beloit on 17 Dec 1884, and his father's death occurred seven years later, 12 Jul 1891.  In his youth he learned the trade of a printer in a printing establishment at Beloit, and gained a good education in the schools of his native city.  In 1870 he went to Milwaukee [Milwaukee County, WI], where he became a compositor on the Sentinel, but the following year removed to Davis, IL, and with his brother, William A. COLBY, started a paper of their own.  In Dec 1872 it was moved to Pecatonica and established as the Pecatonica News.  In 1880 he purchased his brother's interest and conducted the paper with marked success up to the time of his death.

Mr. COLBY was a stanch republican and filled various offices of trust, serving for five years as township clerk, also as village treasurer, president of the village board of trustees, member of the board of education, justice of the peace, and in Sep 1898 he was appointed postmaster, being reappointed in 1902.  He was for many years chief of the fire department, president of the Electric Light Company, and otherwise identified with the upbuilding of the community.  In his social connections he was identified with the A. W. Rawson lodge, No. 145, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Pecatonica; Crusader commandery, No. 17, Knights Templar, and Tebala Temple of the Mystic Shrine, at Rockford; Freeport consistory, at Freeport; the Eureka camp, No. 50, Modern Woodmen of America; Monitor garrison, No. 19, at Pecatonica, and was at one time connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  Passing away very suddenly, he died 11 Jul 1904.

The mother of our subject, known in maidenhood as Ella M. SMITH, was born in Ridott Township, Stephenson County, IL, 08 Apr 1859, the daughter of Gilbert F. and Helen M. (SHAW) SMITH.  She was educated in the country schools and afterward taught school for a number of years.  Her marriage, which was solemnized in Freeport [Stephenson County, IL], 15 Sep 1880, was blessed by the birth of three children:  Gilbert F., born 19 Jul 1881; Claude A., 27 Jul 1883; and Smith W., 15 May 1887.  She was always a true and faithful helpmate to her husband and their united efforts brought them a competence which left her well provided for at the death of her husband.  She still resides at the family residence in Pecatonica.

The subject of this sketch [Gilbert F. COLBY] obtained his education in the Pecatonica public school from which he was graduated in 1897.  He then accepted a position as assistant postmaster under [p 281] his uncle at Union Grove [Racine County], WI, which position he resigned a year later to take a similar position under his father in the Pecatonica post office.  In 1901 he was appointed to a position in the railway main service of the government, running first between Chicago and Dubuque [Dubuque County, IA], and later from Chicago to Lake Geneva [Walworth County], WI.  At the Lake Geneva post office, his terminal office, he became acquainted with Lena A. VOSS, with whom he was united in marriage, 30 Mar 1904.  Just prior to the death of his father, in Jul 1904, he resigned from the railway mail service to assist him in the post office and printing office and at his father's death took up the management of the paper.  To Mr. and Mrs. COLBY was born, 17 Jul 1905, a son, Charles Nathan.

Politically Mr. COLBY is a republican and conducts the paper which he publishes in the interests of that party.  He is at present a member of the village board of trustees, and greatly interested in the welfare of the community.

Biography of Nate L. COLBY (father of Gilbert F. COLBY)
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 1037-1038

[The first paragraph of this biography, identical to the first paragraph of the biography of Gilbert F. COLBY, has been omitted.  The second paragraph, which begins "The editor and publisher of this paper" refers to Gilbert F. COLBY in the above biography.  In the biography of Nate L. COLBY, published 13 years earlier, presented below, the second paragraph beginning with the same phrase,"The editor and publisher," refers in this case not to Gilbert F. COLBY, but to his father, Nathan L. COLBY, then publisher and editor of the Pecatonica News.]

[Nathan L. COLBY], the editor and publisher of this paper [the Pecatonica News] was born in Beloit [Rock County], WI, 20 Dec 1854, the son of Nathan D. and Sybil W. (PEARSE) COLBY.  [The mother's name appears later in this biography as Sybil W. PEASE, the same name given in the above biography of Gilbert F. COLBY.]  The father, who was born in Emden, Somerset County, ME, 01 Oct 1810, came west to WI, 12 Jul 1847, where he followed the trade of a miller for a time, and later took contracts for moving buildings.   He lived retired for some time prior to his decease, [p 1038] which occurred 12 Jul 1891.  He was a brave defender of his country during times of peril; politically, was a Republican, and in the various county offices which he held was distinguished for efficiency and faithful discharge of duties.  He was one of seven children born to Eben COLBY, who was born and married in and was a lifelong resident of ME.

The mother of our subject, known in maidenhood as Sybil W. PEASE, was born in South Norridgewock [Somerset County], ME, 11 Sep 1818, and died in Beloit [Rock County], WI, 17 Dec 1884.  Her marriage, which was solemnized in her native place in 1844, was blessed by the birth of five children, four sons and one daughter.  She was a cheerful helpmate to her husband, whom she aided in all his enterprises and cheered with her sympathy.  Obliged for years after her marriage to use the strictest economy in regulating the household expenses, it was in no small degree due to her frugality and management that prosperity afterward rewarded their efforts.

In his youth he learned the trade of a printer in a printing establishment at Beloit, and gained a good education in the schools of his native city.  In 1870 he went to Milwaukee [Milwaukee County, WI], where he became a compositor on the Sentinel, but the following year removed to Davis, IL, and took charge of a newspaper there.  A few months after locating there, he purchased and removed the plant to Pecatonica, and in partnership with his brother, William A., established the News.  In 1880 he bought his brother's interest, and has since conducted the paper with marked success.

On 15 Sep 1880 Mr. [Nathan L.] COLBY was married at Freeport [Stephenson County], IL, to Miss Ella M. SMITH, who was born in Stephenson County, IL, the daughter of Gilbert F. and Helen M. (SHAW) SMITH.  They are the parents of three children:  Gilbert F., born 27 Jul 1881 [whose biography is presented above], Claude A., 19 Jul 1883, and Smith W., 15 May 1887.  The religious home of the family is in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Mr. COLBY is a member of the Official Board.  Politically he is a Republican, and has filled various positions of trust, serving as Township Clerk for five years, member of the Board of Education, and President of the Republican Club.  In his social connections he is indentified with the A. W. Rawson Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; the Eureka Camp, Modern Woodmen of America, Monitor Garrison No. 19, Knights of the Globe, and was formerly connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  He is chief of the Fire Department, President of the Electric Light plant, and otherwise identified with one of the most progressive measures for the upbuilding of he community.

Submitted by Cathy Kubly.