Biography of John Wynkoop Gilkyson, Jr. of San Francisco

John Wynkoop Gilkyson is a native son of the Golden West, his birth occurring at Chico, Butte County, California, February 5, 1875, and he is a son of John W. and Ruth (Hobart) Gilkyson, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Michigan. On the maternal side Mr. Gilkyson is descended from Edmund Hobart, who came from England to America May 7, 1633, locating in Charlestown, Massachusetts, with his family; Garret A. Hobart, former vice-president of the United States, being a lineal descendant of this emigrant. Members of this family were participants in the Revolutionary War, Daniel Hobart having been an officer in Colonel Colman’s regiment, and was killed at the Battle of White Plains, fighting under General Washington, October 28, 1776. Its representatives also took part in all the early wars and were prominently identified with the early history of the country. Randal Hobart moved west, locating in Michigan in 1831, where he made his home until 1849, and was the first registrar of deeds of Calhoun County and magistrate of the town of Marshall. With his son William he came to California in 1849, settling in Butte County, his family joining him in 1852, and he filled the positions of deputy county clerk, county judge and magistrate. In 1856 he joined the conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and became an able minister of the gospel, having been superannuated in 1862, and his death occurred on his farm near Chico, Butte County, in February 1870. In his family were twelve children, four sons and eight daughters.

John W. Gilkyson, the father of him whose name introduces this review, came to the Golden State in 1850, settling at Bidwell’s Bar, Butte County, where in the early days he followed mining and for many years conducted a hotel at Bidwell’s Bar, while in later years he was prominent in public life, holding the positions of city clerk of Chico, recorder of Butte County and was assistant commissary under Governor Perkins at the San Quentin prison. Retiring from active life at the age of sixty-five years, he thereafter made his home in San Jose, where he passed away in death on the 3rd of January 1903, at the age of seventy-three. Throughout life he was an active worker in the ranks of the Republican party. His wife was called to the home beyond on the 10th of January 1902, aged sixty-two years.

John Wynkoop Gilkyson received his elementary education in the public schools of Butte County, later attending the Boys High School and the grammar school of San Francisco, graduating therein at the age of eighteen years. When only twelve years old he became a messenger boy for the Pacific Bell Telephone Company in this city, performing his duties during the day and attending school in the evenings, and two years later, when fourteen years of age, was promoted to the position of inspector of telephones. Since then, he has taken up switchboard work and was placed in charge of the bell department of the company’s factory in San Francisco, later, in 1899, having been made manager of the western branch office, and in 1900 the company incorporated under the name of the Pacific States Telephone Company. In 1901 Mr. Gilkyson was made local manager of the company’s office at San Jose and in the latter part of the same year was appointed county manager of the San Jose district, including the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz. His long continuance with this company stands as unmistakable evidence of his ability and the confidence reposed in him by its officers—a confidence that has never been betrayed in the slightest degree.

In San Francisco, on the 19th of June 1895, Mr. Gilkyson was united in marriage to Hattie W. Tennis, a native of that city and a daughter of Thomas and Margaret (Struve) Tennis, who were early settlers in California. The one son born of this union, Darwin F., is now aged seven years. In his fraternal relations Mr. Gilkyson is a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and his political support is given to the Republican party.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

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