Dr. Daniel Webster Gilbert (1854-1930) was born in Okibbeha, Mississippi, one of eleven children of Georgia native John (1800-1881) and Sarah Broughton (1810-1877) Gilbert. Of these eight sons and three daughters, four of the boys became physicians. When Daniel Webster was twenty years old, he came to Grapevine in Tarrant County with a friend and stayed with a brother who had already established his practice there. The other Gilbert doctors were in Lewisville and Smithville.
Daniel decided to become a doctor in 1879 and attended Washington University in St. Louis, graduating in 1881. He then returned to Texas and practiced in the Euless-Grapevine Community for four years. In 1882, he and Marietta Boardman of Grapevine were married, and in 1884, their son Taylor Clyde was born. Dr. Gilbert and Marietta moved to Sowers, Texas, where he purchased a farm in the Parsons Survey and built a small separate two-room structure near the road that served as his medical office.
He was the first doctor in the area, where there were only about 120 people living at that time. He began a fifty-five year practice on the west side of Dallas County. From his location, house calls were made by buggy to Kit, Shady Grove, Euless, Estelle, Hackberry, Elm and Union Bower. If the roads were too muddy, he rode horseback or even had to walk at times. He delivered his first baby in South Irving in 1878, be-fore he had even finished medical school. Today there is no way of counting how many babies that Dr. Gilbert delivered, but there would be hundreds during the entire fifty-five years of his medical practice.
Marietta died in 1885, and Dr. Gilbert was left with their little boy. In 1886, he married a widow, Fannie Trigg Roberts, who had a small boy about the same age as Taylor Clyde. Eventually they had nine children who lived to maturity and a set of twins who were born and died in 1899.
There were no pharmacies – codeine and mor-phine were used for pain relief, both legal. Dr. Daniel Webster Gilbert mixed his own medicines from what was available at the time. He was known as a kind, compassionate physician who treated the blacks who had settled in the Bear Creek/Shady Grove Community. He treated eve-ryone whether they could pay or not. Sometimes patients brought produce or even an old mule and left it in the pasture to repay him for kind treatment.
Along with the practice of medicine Dr. Gilbert was a farmer. He had acquired several farms, one of which was known as Ewalt’s Pasture. This consisted of 400 acres just north of Finley Road and 1500 acres of farmland north of Irving Boulevard (Hwy 356). There he built a five bedroom two-story home about where Plymouth Park Shopping Center is now. Fannie cooked summer and winter, not only for her family but also for the extra help who were hired to harvest the crops, pick the peaches, and run the dairy. She would prepare the meals in her large kitchen and drive up Storey Road to the north with a chuck wagon to feed the workers.
When the Town of Irving was laid out in 1903, Dr. Gilbert found space over the bank for an office. That is where his son, Dr. Franklin Monroe Gilbert, joined him in 1920 after graduation. Daniel helped organize the first bank in Irving, serving as president and active director until he died. He was also involved with the Grand Prairie State Bank. After Dr. Gilbert’s death in 1930 the dairy in Ewalt’s 400-acre pasture continued to operate as the Gilbert Brothers’ Dairy for many years.
The Dr. D.W. Gilbert School in Irving was named in his honor. His son, Franklin Monroe Gilbert, renamed his new clinic The Gilbert Medical and Surgical Clinic in honor of his late father. There is also a street in West Irving in the Bear Creek Community named for Dr. D.W. Gilbert.
At the site of the final resting place of this pioneer doctor, among family and friends, in Sowers Cemetery in Irving, Texas, there is a Texas Historical Grave Marker so all may learn about and remember this remarkable man, D.W. Gilbert, M.D.
By Dr. Clay Gilbert for Proud Heritage, Volume III by Dallas County Pioneer Association.