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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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THOMAS GILFILLAN, M.D., a successful and well-known physician of Northampton, Mass., was born in Milton, N.Y., near Ballston Spa, on January 4, 1829. His father, Moses Gilfillan, who was born in Scotland about the year 1798, was growing from youth to manhood during the hard times that were felt in manufacturing districts in England and Scotland shortly after the close of the Napoleonic wars, and which gave rise to secret combinations and assemblies for the voicing of grievances and rights. He, with others who had caught some of the spirit of the French Revolution, became involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the existing government of Great Britain. The plot was discovered before it was mature; and young Gilfillan, who was one of the leaders, was obliged to conceal himself to escape arrest and punishment. In 1820, after being in hiding for two years, he succeeded in embarking as a common sailor and coming to America.

By trade he was a weaver of Scotch linens; and he followed his vocation in this country, having at one time a factory with hand-looms in Schenectady, N.Y., where he was engaged in weaving counterpanes and carpets, but during the panic of 1837 he was financially ruined. He saved only a dollar and a half, which he divided with his family; and, leaving his wife and five children, the eldest but seven years of age, to face alone the sufferings of want, with the remaining seventy-five cents he made the trip from Schenectady to Agawam, Mass., a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles, on foot in midwinter. He afterward removed his family to Agawam, thence to Palmer, and in 1838 to Northampton. Here they remained until 1848, when they went to Rockville, Conn., where he died in 1859. His wife and her three daughters then returned to Northampton. Mrs. Moses Gilfillan, who was a woman of great energy of character and much physical endurance, died in this city in 1884. She and her husband were Orthodox Christians and members of the First Congregational Church in Northampton. Their remains rest in the Northampton cemetery.

Their son James, who was a graduate of Williams College, was an editor of the Rockville Republican when the father died. Later he became a law student in the office of Congressman and Judge Loomis; and in 1860 he entered the United States Treasury Department at Washington, with which he was connected for twenty-one years. While employed as Assistant Treasurer, he was an important witness against the Whiskey Ring of St. Louis, and was rewarded for his courage and honesty by promotion to the position of Treasurer under Ulysses S. Grant. The three daughters, who were graduates of Mount Holyoke Seminary, were able teachers here and in the South; and two of them were teaching at Fort Gibson, Miss., when the war broke out, and they were obliged to leave the State.

Thomas Gilfillan is a graduate of Williams College and also of the Pittsfield Medical School, where he completed the course in 1855. He has since been continuously engaged in the duties of his profession. In October, 1862, he enlisted in the Forty-sixth Massachusetts Regiment, being appointed Assistant Surgeon to Dr. Waterman, of Westfield, and served nine months. After that he re-enlisted in the Fifty-ninth Massachusetts Regiment, in which he served a year, receiving his honorable discharge in September, 1864. In addition to his regular practice, in which he has been very successful, a few years ago he established at his home a gold cure for the treatment of inebriates.

On January 1, 1865, Dr. Gilfillan was united in marriage with Miss Julia M. Bradley, a daughter of Zenas H. Bradley, of Cummington, Mass. Their union has been blessed by the birth of four children, of whom one died in infancy. The living are: James, a book-keeper for the Belding Silk Mills, who is married, and has one son; Rose M., who is attending the high school, and is a young lady of musical talent and a promising student; and Donald R., a youth of fifteen, who is also a pupil of the high school. Dr. Gilfillan is a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society; and he is also a comrade of William L. Baker Post, No. 86, Grand Army of the Republic, of which he is Surgeon.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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