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.
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.