Russell Aubray Wilbourn

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Chris & Kerry
December 13, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume II
pg. 153 & 154

RUSSELL AUBRAY WILBOURN. What is probably the largest single plant and
enterprise devoted to cold storage handling of produce and the manufacture of
ice and ice cream in West Virginia, is owned by the R. A. Wilbourn Company,
Incorporated, of Morgantown. The president and general manager of this
corporation is Russell Aubray Wilbourn, a man of remarkable energy who has been
stepping upward from the ranks since early boyhood and has exhibited a wonderful
resourcefulness and initiative at every successive stage of his commercial

Mr. Wilbourn was born on a farm in Nelson County, Virginia, March 29, 1881. His
father, Robert Willis Wilbourn, was a native of the same county and spent his
active years in commercial lines. Robert W. Wilbourn married Elizabeth Hill, a
native of Nelson County. Her family was an old and wealthy one in Virginia, but
its fortunes were wrecked by the Civil war. She died in 1905.

Russell A. Wilbourn was the youngest child of his parents and lived on their
farm until he was ten years of age. He acquired only such education as was
afforded by the common schools. His commercial instinct was aroused at an early
date, and at. the age of fourteen he and a brother were partners in a retail
grocery business. Thus, though only a little past forty years of age, Mr.
Wilbourn has spent fully a quarter of a century in active business life.

He has been a resident of Morgantown since 1901. In the fall of that year he
engaged in the retail grocery business and sold out his store in 1907. He then
took up the wholesale produce business, starting on a modest scale and with
only such capital as he could individually command. His experience and training
enabled him rapidly to reach out for business and develop a growing concern,
and in 1913 the R. A. Wilbourn Company was incorporated. At that time the plant
was erected, probably the largest and best equipped produce and cold storage,
ice and ice cream manufacturing plant in the state. The company buys by car-load
lots and employs a number of traveling representatives, who cover the adjacent
territory of Monongalia and Preston counties in West Virginia and Greene and
Fayette counties in Pennsylvania. The business of this firm is essentially a
monument to Mr. Wilbourn’s business acumen and the remarkable concentration of
his efforts over a period of years.

He is one of Morgantown’s popular citizens, a member of the Chamber of Commerce,
and of Morgantown Lodge No. 411, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Mr.
Wilbourn married Bess Gregg. She was born in Morgantown, daughter of the late
Thomas Gregg and sister of John M. Gregg, banker and county official. Mr. and
Mrs. Wilbourn have three children: Robert Gregg, born in 1905, graduated from
high school in 1921 and is now attending the University of West Virginia;
Margaret, born in 1912; and Russell Aubray, Jr., born in 1918.