Gilbert Arizona: Community’s roots date to 1920


In 1920 a small community southeast of Phoenix became the town of Gilbert, named after Bobby Gilbert who owned property on which a rail siding was established in 1902 when the Arizona Eastern Railway asked for donations of right of way.

The area became primarily a farming community, thanks to new dams and canals. It remained that way for many years and was known as the “Hay Capital of the World.”

According to local historians, the major influx of Mormons to the Gilbert area came after the Mexican War with Poncho Villa in 1912, when many re-located from the Colonies in Mexico.

Those early Latter-day Saints traveled to worship in either neighboring Mesa or Chandler until 1915 when they began holding their meetings in the Gilbert Elementary School, which is now the Gilbert Historical Museum.

In 1918 the Gilbert Ward was established and within a year the Latter-day Saints moved into their own Gilbert Ward building; the new building was built with adobe bricks and many called it “Adobe Ward.”

Gilbert began taking shape during the 1970s when the town council approved a strip annexation that encompassed 53 square miles of county land.

In 1975, longtime farmer and resident of Queen Creek, Newell A. Barney, was called as the first president of the Gilbert Stake.