GORGAS, Hon. William R., was born at the Gorgas homestead in Lower Allen township, Cumberland county, Pa., May 8, 1806. He was a son of Solomon Gorgas, who came to Cumberland county from Ephrata, Lancaster county, Pa., in 1804. He grew to manhood on the farm on which he was born, and succeeded to his father’s business, the management of the farm and general country store. He did not have a regular school education, but attended Mt. St. Mary’s College, Emmitsburg, Md., and then succeeded by experience in obtaining a practical and thorough business training. Early in life he turned his attention to politics. He was Democrat, and in 1836 was elected to the lower house of the State Legislature, and was twice re-elected, serving through the critical period known as the "Buck-shot War." In 1841 he was nominated for State senator on the Democratic ticket, in the district comprising the counties of Cumberland, Franklin and Adams, and was elected. Mr. Gorgas was not a debater, but a man of good judgment and of strong common sense, which, with his tireless industry, made him an influential and valuable legislator. After serving one term in the State Senate, he laid aside politics and devoted himself to business pursuits, in which he continued active until very late in life. He was one of the founders and first directors of the banking firm of Merkle, Mumma & Co., of Mechanicsburg. This firm subsequently became a State bank, which was afterwards the First National Bank of Mechanicsburg, of which Mr. Gorgas was a director at the time of his death. He was a director of the Harrisburg National Bank from 1845 till his death. He was a director of the Harrisburg Bridge Company, of the Harrisburg City Passenger Railway Company. He was president of the Harrisburg Burial Case Company, and of the Allen and East Pennsboro’ Fire Insurance Company. He was a member of the Reservoir Park Commission, and of the advisory board of the Children’s Industrial Home. In 1877 he removed from the Gorgas homestead to Harrisburg, where in 1882 he was the Democratic nominee for the Legislature. The city was then Republican by a majority of five hundred, but he came within eight-eight votes of being elected. On March 5, 1840, he married Miss Elizabeth Hummel, of Harrisburg, by whom he had eight children. His widow and four children survive him. His children are: William L., cashier of the Harrisburg National Bank; George A., druggist; Kate F. and Mary E. He was a member of the Seventh Day Baptist church, and was in very respect a most conscientious and exemplary citizen. He died December 7, 1892, and his remains were interred in the family lot in the cemetery of Camp Hill, Cumberland county, Pa.
Historical Review of Dauphin County
Transcribed by Mary Jo Erdwein (email@example.com) for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project – Http://maley.net/transcription.
Date of Transcription: 11 November 2000
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