Gilbert Mollison, one of the oldest residents of this city, and one of the last business men who flourished in the fifties when Oswego was at the height of a commercial career, passed away yesterday at his residents, 92 West Fifth street. The end came peacefully, Mr. Mollison passing into a long and painless sleep which terminated in death, although his vitality was such that several times he rallied when his attendants and members of the family at his bedside believed that the end had come.
Mr. Mollison's life was a truly wonderful one, not alone in its length but in the ceaseless activity which he displayed in his business life up to a few months ago. It was a life full of honors, and honorable dealing, and Mr. Mollison from the time he first came to this city until his death was an example of the best in business and home life.
He was born in Bound Brook, N.J., May 16, 1817, and was therefore in his ninety-sixth year. He was educated in the common schools of that village and when a young man went to New York City, where for a time he was a clerk in a small dry goods store. The work not being to his taste, he went up state to Utica, where he for a time was associated with a civil engineer. he remained there until 1843, when commerce commenced to pick up on the canal and the lakes, and he was one of the first to seek a fortune in the forwarding business, and he selected Oswego as a strategic point and located here. From the start his business prospered and he soon engaged in the milling business with O.H. Hastings under the firm name of Mollison & Hastings, owning and operating the Cumberland Mills. In this he became one of the leading business men of the city and in 1865 he was one of the committee which organized the Oswego Board of Trade, serving as its president in 1878.
When the milling business moved westward with the settling of the west and the opening of new wheat fields, he went into the coal and general insurance business under the firm name of Mollison * Dowdle and he continued this business to the day of his death. From the time he came to this city Mr. Mollison took a deep interest in public affairs and was elected alderman of from the First ward in 1847 and in the following year when the city was incorporated he was re-elected in 1849. In 1854 he was elected from the ward to the Board of Supervisors but resigned on account of pressing business affairs.
He was a member of the Board of Education and when the Normal School was located in this city in 1867 he became a member of the Board of managers and continued to serve until his death, the past twenty years acting as president. He was one of the organizers of the Oswego County Bible Society and was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, also serving as elder and trustee in that church. he later was instrumental in organizing Grace Presbyterian Church, in the affairs of which church he took a deep interest. He served several terms as superintendent of the Sunday-school and was one of the elders.
He was on the first board of trustees of the Oswego City Library and of the Oswego Orphan Asylum, and was one of the body of men which organized the Oswego Rural Cemetery Association, which purchased Riverside cemetery and made it one of the largest cemeteries in the city.
He was one of the first believers in railroads as a means of transportation to replace the lakes and canals and was the first president of the Lake Shore Road from this city to Lewiston, now a part of the Ontario Division of the New York Central lines. he was a member of the Board of Directors on the Oswego & Syracuse Railroad, and one of the first wood burning locomotives was named the "Gilbert Mollison."
In short, Mr. Mollison was the last survivor of the business men of the past who made their fortunes in the early days of Oswego's maritime and milling prosperity and he gave generously of his time and funds to help the hundred and one charitable and business organizations in which he was interested. He is survived by one daughter, Mrs. William H. Herrick of New York City, and one son, Gilbert Mollison, Jr., of this city, and by four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. The funeral services will be held tomorrow afternoon from the family residence at 3 o'clock, Rev. Dr. S.W. Steele officiating.