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Creek naming would honor Gaines pioneer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2013 at 12:00 am

‘Gilbert Creek’ runs east of 98 in Gaines and Carlton

Photos by Tom Rivers – This unnamed stream by Ridge Road in Gaines, about a mile east of Route 98, is largely undisturbed.

GAINES – The stream doesn’t have a name, but it caught the eye of a pioneer settler on Ridge Road and the town of Gaines more than 200 years ago.

Elizabeth Gilbert and her husband, identified in historical records only as “Mr. Gilbert,” arrived with their two children and a niece in 1807. They picked a spot next to a stream near where the Gaines Carlton Community Church now stands on Route 104, close to the intersection with Brown Road.

Early settlers liked to build log cabins close to a source of water. The Gilberts chose the north side of Ridge Road, building their home where there was a rise in the land.

The cabin is long gone, but a historical marker notes the pioneering efforts from Mrs. Gilbert. Her husband died in 1808, leaving her to raise the children, and tame the nearby wilderness.

The creek at the site has never been named, but Al Capurso wants to change that. He wants it to recognize the pioneering efforts of Mrs. Gilbert.

The creek begins from feeder sources south of Route 104 near Brown Road. It then marries Procter Brook in Carlton, and then flows into the oak Orchard River.

Capurso has secured resolutions of support for naming the stream “Gilbert Creek” from both the Gaines and Carlton town boards. He has pages of signatures from residents in support of the creek naming.

Al Capurso stands on a pedestrian bridge over a stream he wants named for a pioneer settler in Gaines.

On July 7, he sent an application to the U.S. Geological Survey Unit of the Department of the Interior, the agency responsible for reviewing applications for naming geologic features in the country.

Capurso said the creek meets the Interior’s criteria for naming a creek based on three levels: The feature is currently unnamed; The stream has an independent and distinct source of flow; and it is historically significant.

Capurso has read historical accounts of the pioneers in Orleans, and Gilbert is credited with helping settlers that arrived soon after her make their new homes.

Capurso believes the stones on the creek bed are the same ones that the Gilbert family likely stood on when they moved to Gaines and built a cabin beginning in 1807.

He is hopeful the creek will officially bear her name by early next year, and a sign by Ridge Road will proclaim it as “Gilbert Creek.” Capurso is working on the wooden sign that will match the one for Procter Brook at the Cobblestone Society Museum.

He thinks honoring a pioneer settler, and erecting a historical-looking sign, will blend in nicely with the Cobblestone Museum less than a mile down the road.