James Avery Skilton was born in Troy, NY on January 13, 1829. He was the first son of Avery Judd Skilton and Mary Augusta Candee. James was schooled at Troy Academy and entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1845. He remained there for a year and then went on to take over his father's medical office and financial affairs, although he never was formally trained in medicine. In the 1850s, James spent time in the South engaging in various business ventures involving land, railroads and transportation. The Civil War seems to have forced James to return north. After the war, James studied law at Albany Law School and received his LL. B. He then briefly returned to the South to practice Constitutional Law. Ultimately, James settled down in Brooklyn as a Patent Lawyer and while in Brooklyn, he became involved with the Brooklyn Ethical Association. Through this association he became quite taken with the work of Herbert Spencer, whom he ultimately corresponded with and they became known as friends. James married Agnes Sheppard in 1879 but was widowed by 1882; he was later remarried. James died on Feb. 19, 1904 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Julius Augustus Skilton was born on June 29, 1833 in Troy, NY. Growing up, Julius studied medicine with private teachers and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1847-1849, graduating with a Bachelors of Natural Science. He went on to get an A.M. from Wesleyan University and a M.D. from Albany Medical College. He practiced medicine in Troy until the outbreak of the Civil War when he enlisted as an assistant surgeon. Following the Civil War, Julius traveled on assignment for the New York "Herald" to Mexico with his wife, Harriet Ingersoll (whom he married in 1856). Julius escorted Mexican President Juarez back to Mexico from New Orleans and proceeded to assist with his restoration of Mexican rule. During this time, Julius owned and edited a newspaper devoted to the Juarez cause. He was also commissioned to exhume and examine the body of Maximilian before it was sent back to Austria. Because of his diplomatic involvement, in 1869 Julius was appointed US Consul in Mexico City by President Grant. From 1872-1878 he was the US Consul General in Mexico. Eventually Julius returned to the United States and took up residence in Brooklyn. It was there that Julius died on November 20, 1897.
George Steele Skilton was born on November 25, 1845 in Troy, NY. His early education consisted of schooling at Troy High School (until 1859), continued in Savannah, Georgia for the next two years, and culminated with studies at Amenia Seminary, located in Dutchess County, NY. From 1865 to 1868, George attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and graduated with a Civil Engineering degree. At R.P.I. he was actively involved in extracurricular activities and he gave a commencement speech at his graduation (of which the original is included in with his correspondence). Following graduation, George moved to Mexico and remained there until 1886, engaging in a wide variety of business and government enterprises. He worked as an engineer for several railroad companies including the Mexican Railroad Company (1871-1872), the Mexican Central Railroad (1874-1876 and 1880-1882), the Kansas City Southern Railroad (1879), and the Sinaloa and Durango Railroad Company (1884-1886). In addition to his railroad work, he also applied his engineering expertise to several public works projects. George was involved in government activities while in Mexico, holding the title of Vice Consul and Vice Consul General of the United States to Mexico (1869-1871, 1873-1879). He was also actively involved in the United States and Mexico Claims Commissions, providing consul to the claimants and working on over sixty different claims. In 1880 George married Adah Gould Sawyer. George and his family left Mexico in the late 1880s. Upon returning to the United States George continued to hold engineering positions, doing some work for the City of New York. George died in 1921 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Troy, New York.
From the description of Skilton family papers, 1845-1917. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). WorldCat record id: 123991895