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Joan Gilbert


Joan Sewell Gilbert (1931-2013) was a woman after my own heart, who loved research and had an epic collection of horse magazines.


Born in Dixon, Missouri, she worked as a journalist for many years, contributing a monthly column to Saddle and Bridle magazine on horses in history. Much of her work was centred around Missouri, including three collections of Missouri-related ghost stories.


Her early interest in horses was sparked by her mother reading her Black Beauty, an interest she kept throughout her life. She went to university in Missouri, left to get married, and completed her degree by correspondence. Her earliest jobs included working for the Columbia Tribune newspaper, and she became women’s editor. Much of the news about the society women she featured involved their horses.


When her first marriage ended, she returned to Dixon, and married Ira Gilbert in 1962. She carried on writing, with her first book, Summerhill Summer, appearing in 1967. In total, she wrote over 700 articles and short stories.


Finding the books: all are easy to find in the USA; none were published in the UK.


Sources and links

Obituary, Columbia Daily Tribune, November 10, 2013

Jane Simmons: Joan Gilbert - Horse Historian, 2004

Annie Nelson: Joan Gilbert as a collector of ghost stories (Columbia Tribune, October 28, 2007)

National Library of Congress

More on Missouri Horses

Many thanks to Laura Stanton for her help



Bibliography: horse books only

Summerhill Summer

Bethany Press, St Louis, 1967, 208 pp.



"Much against her wishes, Judy Turner goes to spend the summer with her brother Ted and

his family at their large, mystery-enshrouded country home called Summerhill. She becomes
acquainted with Barry, nephew of the former horse trainer at Summerhill."

Mule Boy

Canal History and Technology Press, Easton, PA, 2004, illus Kathhryn Schaar Burke.  243 pp.

Missouri Horses: Gift to a Nation

Mogho Books, Hallsville, MO, 2003, sketches by Adele Graham


Non fiction: traces the history of the horse in North America through the its use in Missouri.

Holiday Horses

Mogho Books, Hallsville, MO, 2007, illus Adele Graham



A fictional title involving Saddlebreds.