John Bachop "J.B." Gilfillan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 4th district
In office
March 4, 1885 – March 3, 1887
Preceded byWilliam D. Washburn
Succeeded byEdmund Rice
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 28th district
In office
January 2, 1883 – January 3, 1885
Preceded byJohn Shaleen
Succeeded byDavid Marston Clough
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 25th district
In office
January 4, 1876 – January 1, 1883
Preceded byJohn S. Pillsbury
Succeeded byAlbert H. Truax
Personal details
Born(1835-02-11)February 11, 1835
Caledonia County, Vermont
DiedAugust 19, 1924(1924-08-19) (aged 89)
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Rebecca Corse Oliphant (d. March 25, 1884),
Hannah Lavinia Coppock

John Bachop Gilfillan (February 11, 1835 – August 19, 1924), known as J.B., was a Minnesota politician and lawyer active in the late 19th century. Gilfillan was born on February 11, 1835 in Caledonia County, Vermont.[1] He attended school there, first Caledonia County Grammar School and then Caledonia County Academy, until 1855, when he moved to Minnesota.[2] He probably worked as a teacher at some point between 1855 and 1860. He was admitted to the bar and began law practice in 1860.[2]

Gilfillan's first political position was as a member of one of the region's first school boards.[2] Long a proponent of education, Gilfillan helped to found the grade school system in Minneapolis.[1] Over the next decade, Gilfillan was a prominent member of the Minneapolis legal establishment.

Gilfillan served four terms as the municipal attorney for St. Anthony, Minnesota. By 1863, he was the county attorney for Hennepin County.[3] He remained in that position for 10 years, although was briefly replaced by George Robinson (from 1867 to 1869).[3] From 1865 until 1869, Gilfillan was also a city alderman.[1] Before seeking higher office in 1875, Gilfillan practiced law with Lochren, McNair and Gilfillan.[1]

Voters placed Gilfillan in his first statewide office in a special election for state senate in 1875.[1] He served as a state senator for 10 years, first representing Minnesota's District 25 and later District 28.[1] During his time in the state senate, Gilfillan became a regent of the University of Minnesota. He left the senate in 1885 to pursue national office.

In 1885, Gilfillan was elected to the United States Congress to represent Minnesota's 4th congressional district.[1][4] He served one term and was replaced, in 1886, when he lost the election to St. Paul mayor Edmund Rice.

After losing the 1886 election, Gilfillan returned to Minnesota. He endowed the University of Minnesota with $50,000 in 1901.[2] By 1903, he was president of the First National Bank.[2] Gilfillan continued to work with the bank as a member of its board of directors from 1905 until at least 1907.[2]

Gilfillan was married twice.11 His first marriage, to Rebecca Corse Oliphant in 1870, left him a widower in 1884.[1] He1 married Hannah Lavinia Coppock, a woman 25 years his junior, in 1893 in Chicago.[1][5] Gilfillan had four children, three sons and one daughter.[1] He was a member of the Minneapolis Club until his death in 1924.[2] He is interred at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Gilfillan, John Bachop "J.B."". Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Albert Nelson Marquis, ed. (1907). The Book of Minnesotans: A Biographical Dictionary of the Living Leading Men of the State of Minnesota. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Co. p. 182. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  3. ^ a b "History". Hennepin County Attorney. Archived from the original on 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  4. ^ "GILFILLAN, John Bachop, (1835 - 1924)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  5. ^ "Descendants of Thomas Ffrench". Retrieved 2010-06-27.
U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byWilliam D. Washburn U.S. Representative from Minnesota's 4th congressional district1885 – 1887 Succeeded byEdmund Rice