Gigantic Gilbertie Family Gathers

In 1890, brothers Antonio and Alesandro Gilbertie immigrated with their families from Italy to Brooklyn.

Through friends and relatives they learned of a small Connecticut community called Saugatuck. Italians were moving in, displacing the Irish who had built the first 2 railroad tracks.

The Gilberties fell in love with the area, and found work building the railroad’s second 2 tracks.

Antonio and Alessandro wrote their 3 brothers — Samuel, Michael and Julius — back home in Salerno that they’d found the perfect place to live. Within the next few years, the remaining brothers and their families arrived in Saugatuck.

Over the years, the Original 5 — as they’re still called — started A. Gilbertie Florist (now Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens), Weston Gardens, and many small businesses.

They and their descendants became builders, excavators and plumbers. They served in both world wars, and in town government. Gradually they spread to neighboring towns, the tri-state region, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

A Gilbertie family photograph, circa 1910.

A Gilbertie family photograph, circa 1910.

Today, Ken Gilbertie has no idea how many 2nd and 3rd cousins he has.

But he, his cousin Ginny and others would like to find tout.

They’ve organized a Gilbertie family reunion. It’s set for this Saturday (September 12) at Sherwood Island.

They’ve created a Facebook group, and are trying to get the word out in other ways. But they know there are more Gilberties out there.

If you’re a member of one of Westport’s leading families — or know someone who is — check out the “Gilbertie Family Reunion 2015” page on Facebook. Or email GilbertieReunion@gmail.com.

Normally, a family reunion would not be “06880”-worthy.

But — since 1890 — the Gilberties have been much more than a normal family.

Antonio and Marie Gilbertie with granddaughter Celeste, around 1940.

Antonio and Marie Gilbertie with granddaughter Celeste, around 1940.

13 responses to “Gigantic Gilbertie Family Gathers

  1. Karen Gilbertie Roche

    Thank you Dan! I hope we get a great turnout!

  2. My mom is a Wakeman & Bradley (going strong at 89) and my dad was a Kellogg &B Bradley – that being said my family did business with the Gilberties for as long as my Mom can remember…may they celebrate next weekend!

  3. Sally J. Deegan

    I’m Sally Kellogg’s mom (Sally Jacob, Kellogg, Deegan) and I remember going to the Gilbertie Florists on Sylvan Lane with my mother, Marion Wakeman Jacob when I was a little girl. She would drive down to Westport from Ridgefield to get flowers for St. Stephen’s Church in Ridgefield. I think my Dad, Sereno Jacob,,sold a piece of property to Sal Gibertie’s Dad back in the early 40’s. It was located off So. Compo Road behind the house where Scott & Zalda Fitzgerald use to summer. My best wishes to a wonderful family.

  4. mary schmerker

    Visiting Fairfield county last week I was treated to a salad of Gilbertie Greens. It was the best I have ever experienced!. (I ate it with out any dressing so I got to just enjoy the varied flavors of the greens. Growing up on Calumet Road,, I used to walk down Clinton Avenue to get the bus to Bedford Jr, High and Staples. Two Gilbertie families lived on Clinton Ave. I hope that Mike Gilbertie and Marlene Gilbertie are in excellent health and that everyone has a great time getting together.

    • I’m Michael Gilbertie brother of Marlene Gilbertie Donohue and Donna Gilbertie, we’re all well, thanks for asking. Ironically we had our annual family clambake yesterday at Donna’s summer place on Gardner Lake in Salem, CT. Donna and I currently live in E. Lyme and Niantic a village in E. Lyme that is like Westport use to be back in the 50’s and 60’s. My father, Julius, was the only Gilbertie that I knew of that worked at Fillow Flower Co. and he grew all the roses for Fillows. It was around 1956 when Loren Sniffen sold all of the land that is now Fillow St., Loren Lane and Sniffen Rd.and the only property that was spared was the the land that the greenhouses were on. Later to be sold to Leo Isler who ran the business well into the late seventies at which time that land was sold and houses were built on it. A developer from LI whose last name was Winnick was able to subdivide the property that was zoned half acre into quarter acre lots. Don’t remember how he got the variance but in any case mined all of the rich top soil and gravel and sold it before he started construction of the 80+ homes. If you look at the land elevation which is about two feet lower than the original grade you can see where the development started next to our house at 18 Clinton Ave. It was my understanding that Winnick made back the $200,000 plus that he paid for all of that beautiful land. I retired from the Westport Fire Department as Deputy Fire Marshal in 1983 and currently work of the CT Department of Public Safety..

      • At 21 Fillow St. my mother might have had even nicer gardens if more of the top soil was left… When she did garden she often found broken glass from the greenhouses. The price for our newly built Fillow St house was approx $16,000.
        It was a great place and time to grow up. So many young families all starting in their first homes together.

      • Karen Gilbertie Roche

        Michael – My father was Michael too – Grandson of Alyssandro and son of Samuel and Albina who lived on Sunrise Road. Would love it if you all could drive the hour down to Westport and join us on Saturday Sept. 12 at Sherwood Island and please spread the word to family

  5. I attended a salad greens gardening class led by Mr. Gilbertie ( I’m guessing Sal) at Hollandia in Bethel CT. He gave a wonderful history about his family that originally worked at Fillow Flowers in Westport , before all the roads, Sniffen, Lauren Lane, Calumet and Fillow Street ,that land was lined with rows of greenhouses and fields. After WW II the flower industry changed due to the changes in available transportation. All the greenhouses came down and in their place the streets with single family homes were built. The Gilberties moved on from Fillow Flowers to start their own business in Westport. I was more fascinated in this history than most in attendance, because I grew up on Fillow St.

  6. Sharon Paulsen

    More of this please! I love to hear historical facts like this about Westport, and all the familiar names and places.
    For a short time, my mom and I lived on Compo Road North, between Cross Highway and Main Street, and I had school friends living in the Clinton Avenue areas.
    I recall the name Fillow, but I don’t remember if there were any working greenhouses in that area at that time (late 1970’s-ish, maybe early 80’s, before I moved back into the Old Hill section of Westport, where incidentally I was raised from infancy – after a brief stint on Orchard Hill as a newborn, LOL).
    I’d love more detail on this – years, dates, etc. from the blog community.

    Thanks again Dan!

    (Oh, and I really enjoy hearing about stuff related to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s summer residence – BONUS material, in my opinion.)

  7. Well, as the consummate Westport historian, I will weigh in with this:
    As stated already the Gilberties got their start in the flower business working for the Fillow Flower Company. The Fillow’s are an old Westport family, and once owned very extensive lands across the north of Westport. They were related to the Sniffens and Lorens, hence why those roads are all near each other. Also Everett Loren Fillow, who ran the Flower Company and who’s house still stands on Clinton Avenue, was married to Marie Langenberg. Her father, Charles Langenberg, is generally credited with being the first real estate broker in Westport. Her sister, Clara, was married to Dr Janson, for whom Janson Drive and court, and the Janson apartments are named.

  8. Having lived at 22 Clinton Ave from ’77-’80, which was on the corner of Fillow St , our backyard butted up to what I seem to recall was a yard with a greenhouse. I know this because we’d chase overthrown baseballs and footballs when they landed over the fence. My sister had a great arm, just not very accurate. The yard also provided a wonderful cut-through to Main St when we’d miss the school bus to Coleytown on Clinton Ave. Good times!

  9. Great piece, Dan.

  10. I rode with Sal when he was attending Fairfield University and I was going to Fairfield Prep. Was in scouts with Mick and Tony and as adults argued politics with Mick. Of course always bought flowers, plants and then herbs from Sal. Some names are Westport to me. Gilbertie is one of them.