William R. Gilbert was born in 1844 to Frederick and Mary Gilbert. He was one of seven children and his family resided in Norristown. His family remained in Norristown through 1860. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, William enlisted in C Company of the 51st PA Volunteer Regiment on September 13, 1861 at the age of 17. Enlisting as a corporal, he served the remainder of the war and fought with the Regiment in major battles such as Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg, and Appomattox. Fortunately, William survived these major battles and was mustered out of the army on July 27, 1865 after being promoted to Sergeant.
Following the war, William continued to reside in Norristown. He married Annie M. Gilbert and worked numerous jobs. By the mid-1880’s, he and his wife remained in Norristown where he was working in Fish and Oysters. By 1888 he was working as a tobacconist. Unfortunately, William and his wife both passed away in 1890 and they are buried together in Historic Montgomery Cemetery.