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Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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Oconto County

Named for Rodney and Mary ROBLEE GILLETT, who settled there in 1858. It was first called Gillett Center. Information provided by Deana Hipke. (The name is variously pronounced gil' let (hard 'g') or jil' let, but both rhyme with 'skillet.')

Originally in town of Stiles, Gillett saw Henry Tourtilotte as the first white settler along with his Indian wife and four children. Within a year they were joined by the Henry Clark family also consisting of an Indian wife and three children. These two families hunted and traded with the nearby Potawatomi and Menominee residents. In 1857 Rodney Gillett bought the three story log cabin that the Tourtilotte family had built. He had been born 24 years earlier in Albany, New York, and had moved with his family to Pennsylvania and Illinois. Traveling to Wisconsin alone, he met Mary Roblee in Clayton where they married in 1858 and moved directly to what was then called Gillett Center. Mary was the first white woman to live in those parts.

William John, who later fought in the Civil War, soon moved there with his wife. During his absence, Mrs. Hattie John became an expert shot with a rifle and provided wild game not only for her family, but for other families whose adult males were away. By 1864 the settlement was starting to develop rapidly and built the first school in 1865. Rodney Gillett built the first frame home in the settlement in 1868 at the time of the first election, which took place in his spacious new home. Mr. and Mrs. Gillett shared postmaster duties beginning in 1870. The Catholic Mission Church was built in 1886 joining the Methodist Church built in 1874. A Lutheran Church followed in 1890. The railroad of 1884 brought the settlement to full village status with the addition of stores, saloons, a cheese factory, butcher shop, brickyard, and barber shop.

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