The family ground has been traced back as far as 1840 when the land was patented in the federal land office of Burlington, Iowa. As was common in that era, a land baron patented the land and then promptly sold the land to the squatters, which happened to be the ancestors of Stuart Gilbert. Those squatters came across the Mississippi from Illinois not long after the Black Hawk War. With the family, came cattle and cattle continued to be on the land until today.
The most notable ancestor was Great-Great Grandparents William and Annie Watson, who had a herd of Registered Shorthorns. They officially purchased the land from Annie’s relative, Elihu & Matilda Harlan, in 1888 after living on the property. A very prestigious cattle barn was built on the property in 1875 for the growing cattle herd of the family. One of the old foundation stones of the original barn built in 1875 is a foundation stone in Graystone Cattle Company’s landscape welcoming guests to the ranch.
Stuart’s Great Grandpa Lester Watson lived with his mother, Grandma Annie Watson, and did harvesting out west for a while as his brother Lorenzo continued with the cattle. Great-Great Uncle Lorenzo Watson was listed in some of the old Shorthorn directories as far back as 1902. The ground continued to have cattle; however, the registered shorthorn became a commercial herd.
As Grandpa Kenneth & Grandma Kathleen became older, Stuart began to help them care for their ground and cattle. A few years after he graduated from high school, he purchased neighboring ground to Grandma and Grandpa Watson which was also originally in the family in the late 1800’s. The ground has been joined with the old family ground to support the cattle.
In 1990, Stuart purchased his first Red Angus females and adopted the name Graystone Cattle Company. His Grandpa Kenneth died in 1994 and Stuart continued to care for the cattle for Grandma Kathleen. Upon Grandma Kathleen’s death in 1997, Stuart’s mother Dorothy Watson Gilbert took ownership of the ground and Stuart continued to run cattle on the land. He had converted the commercial herd to a complete Red Angus Seedstock herd in 1993.
Stuart, his wife Kaye and sons Sam and Wyatt have continued the family tradition of raising cattle and currently live in the family home that was built in 1885. The Graystone herd continues to grow as Stuart and Kaye are bringing up the next generation in the cattle business.
On August 20, 2015, the land will be designated a Century Farm by the Iowa Department of Agriculture during the Iowa State Fair.