Forceful and resourceful, determined and resolute in whatever he undertakes and readily discriminating between the essential and the nonessential in business affairs, David Ellsworth Gwinn has made for himself a prominent position in the commercial circles of Sheridan. He is today president and manager of an important business enterprise operating under the name of the Sheridan Commercial Company.
He was born in Poweshiek county, Iowa, near Victor, on the 24th of January, 1881, and always residing on this side of the Mississippi, he is imbued with the spirit of western enterprise and progress. His parents were Sampson Bever and Lizzie (Torrey) Gwinn, both of whom have now passed away. The father was also born in Poweshiek county, Iowa, on the old family homestead, situated on the state road, his natal year being 1853. He devoted his life to farming and on leaving Iowa removed to Iroquois, South Dakota, in 1884. There he took up a homestead, but after two years his wife passed away upon that farm and Mr. Gwinn retired from active farm life and turned his attention to railroad contracting in Nebraska, following the Burlington road as far as Arvada. He left the road there and in 1891 came to Sheridan, at which time the railroad had not been extended to this point. He assisted in grading some of the streets of Sheridan and later took up a ranch near Ranchester, Wyoming, and resumed .agricultural pursuits, in which he continued actively to the time of his death in December, 1917. He was filling the office of county commissioner at the time of his demise and was recognized as one of the valued and representative citizens of this section of the state, his labors having contributed in considerable measure to the development and progress of the community in which he lived.
David E. Gwinn was an only child. He was educated in the public schools of Victor, Iowa, being graduated from the high school there with the class of 1898. In the same year his patriotic spirit was aroused and he responded to the country's call for military aid, enlisting as a volunteer of Company I, Fiftieth Iowa Infantry, for service in the Spanish-American war. His regiment was assigned to duty under General Fitzhugh Lee but did not get to Cuba. The war was brought to a speedy close and he was mustered out in the winter of 18981899. He then came to Sheridan, where he taught country school near the town of Dayton, in Sheridan county, through one summer, and then turned his attention to commercial pursuits, becoming a clerk of the Sheridan County Commercial Company, then under the direction of J. Dana Adams, who was president and manager. Mr. Gwinn remained with the company until 1905, when he went upon the road as a grocery salesman for the Allen Brothers Company of Omaha. He followed that business for seven years, or until 1912, when, upon the death of Mr. Adams, the former manager of the Sheridan County Commercial Company, he was called back to take charge of the business. He assumed control in the spring of 1913 and continued to manage the enterprise until June, 1915, when the store and the greater portion of the stock were destroyed by a fire that caused a loss of one hundred thousand dollars. The Adams estate then decided to discontinue the business and Mr. Gwinn took up the proposition and organized a new company known as the Sheridan Commercial Company. He became one of the stockholders and was elected president and manager. Business was resumed in their present quarters, in a beautiful new block, in 1916. This building was erected by Senator Kendrick especially for the company, Mr. Gwinn furnishing the plans, so that it is admirably adapted for the business carried on. It is one of the finest business blocks in the wholesale and retail trade in the state. Through his energy, his optimism and his progressiveness Mr. Gwinn has built up the business from a very small beginning and has made it one of the most important commercial concerns of western Wyoming. Both a wholesale and retail trade are carried on and the patronage has reached most extensive and gratifying proportions. He has ever recognized the fact that satisfied patrons constitute the best source of advertising, as their recommendations continually widen the trade. From the beginning the firm has enjoyed an unassailable reputation for business integrity as well as enterprise. Mr. Gwinn was also interested with his father in general ranching, including the raising of cattle and of grain.
On June 7, 1900, was celebrated the marriage of David E. Gwinn and Miss Frances Ruth Stillwagon, who was horn in Victor, Iowa, a daughter of George B. and Clarina D. (Huddlesonl Still wagon. They have become the parents of two sons: Donald Ellsworth, born January 30, 1914 and George Stillwagon, born March 4, 1917. Mrs. Quinn is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, an indication that she is a representative of one of the old American families whose patriotic loyalty was manifest at the time when the colonies strove for and won independence.
Mr. Gwinn belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Their religious faith is that of the Presbyterian church and he gives his political allegiance to the republican party. Progressiveness is one of his dominant qualities, manifest in his relations of citizenship just as strongly as it is in his business career. His plans are well defined and carefully executed not only in the conduct of his commercial interests but also in his efforts to aid in advancing the public welfare, and Sheridan numbers him among her valued representatives.