ORTH, Henry L.
Back Up Next



ORTH, HENRY L., M. D., superintendent of the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital at Harrisburg, was born in Harrisburg, Pa., August 17, 1842, son of Edward Lawrence and Martha Cummings (Kerr) Orth. His grandfather, Henry Orth, settled in Baltimore, where he died in 1816. Here Edward Lawrence Orth, father of Henry L., was born January 4, 1814. After the death of his father Edward Lawrence removed with his mother’s family to Harrisburg, where the son was educated in the borough schools and the Harrisburg Academy. He began the study of medicine with his brother-in-law, Dr. Luther Reily, and subsequently pursued his studies under the tuition of Dr. George McClelland. He was graduated from Jefferson Medical College March 12, 1834, and began practice in Harrisburg, where he had eminent success. He died April 15, 1861. He married Martha Cummings Kerr, daughter of Rev. James Kerr, a Presbyterian minister, who married Mary, only daughter of James Wilson and his wife Mary Elder, daughter of Rev. John Elder. They had four children: Mary, who married Jacob F. Seiler, superintendent of the Harrisburg Academy, Henry L., James Wilson, who married Miss Bertha E. Ross, and Rebecca Reily.

Henry L. Orth entered Harrisburg Academy and from there went to Yale College in 1859, remaining until 1861, when at the outbreak of the Civil war he was appointed acting medical cadet in the service, and in 1863 commissioned medical cadet in the regular army, in which he remained until 1865. In May, 1866, he was graduated from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, and soon after located in his native city. He was appointed in 1866 surgeon of the Northern Central Railway Company and in 1873 surgeon of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. In August of the latter year he was elected visiting surgeon of the Harrisburg Hospital, and from 1873 to 1884 was president of the board of United States pension surgeons at Harrisburg. In 1884, at the organization of the Harrisburg Club, Dr. Orth was elected one of the governing committee. In 1889 he was appointed a trustee of the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital at Harrisburg, and on August 28, 1891, was elected superintendent and physician of the same.

Dr. Orth was married, June 30, 1868, to Miss Elizabeth Bridgeman Dixon, daughter of Joseph Shipley and Sarah Edwards (Bridgeman) Dixon, of Wilmington, Del., and of English-Quaker origin. Dr. Orth and his wife are members of the Market Square Presbyterian church, of Harrisburg. Dr. Orth was a member of the International congresses held in 1876 and 1886 and a delgate from the State of Pennsylvania, and was president of the Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania in 1893.

Points in the genealogy of the Orth family are interesting as part of the local history of the Commonwealth. Balzer, or balthaser, Orth was born May 5, 1703, and emigrated from his home in the Palatinate, Germany, to Lebanon county, Pa., about 1730. He came from a very old family, from whom was derived the name of the village of Orth, situated on the right bank of the Danube, about fifteen miles east of Vienna, and which was settled about 1170 by Hartneid von Orthe, who purchased the village and estates surrounding it, founded a church and erected a castle. The whole property remained in possession of the family for several generations, when the proprietor, about the end of the seventeenth century, sold out and removed to Moravia and later to the Rhine. Balzer Orth had warranted to him on November 25, 1735, three hundred acres of land in Lebanon township. He died October 20, 1788; his wife died March 29, 1773. Their children were: Adam, John, and Balzer. Adam, the eldest, was born March 10, 1733, in Pennsylvania, and was brought up amid the dangers and struggles of pioneer life. During the French and Indian war he commanded a company, and in 1769 was one of the commissioners of the county of Lancaster. During the Revolution, although advanced in years, he was identified with the struggle and appointed sub-lieutenant of Lancaster county March 12, 1777. Upon the formation of Dauphin county he served as a representative in the General Assembly in 1779 and in 1780. He was opposed to the adoption of the Federal Constitution and was active in the Harrisburg conference in 1788. For a long time he owned and operated New Market forge, which at his death he bequeathed to his son Henry. He was one of the pioneers in the manufacture of iron in Lebanon county. Colonel Orth married, May 24, 1757, Catharine Kucher, daughter of Peter and Barbara Kucher, of Lebanon. Their children were: Elizabeth, John, Rosini, Jospeh, Maria Elizabeth, Catharine, Regina, Christian Henry, and Joanna. Of these Christian Henry Orth died in Baltimore in 1816. He received a good English education and was brought up in the iron buriness. At the death of his father he became the owner of the New Market forge. In 1801 he was elected State senator and served three years. He was afterwards appointed flour inspector of the port of Philadelphia, settled in that city and engaged in business, remaining there until the war of 1812, when he removed to Baltimore. He was married in 1794 to Rebecca Rahm, daughter of Conrad and Catharine (Weiser) Rahm. She died in Harrisburg, December 31, 1843. Adam Henry, a son born to them in 1798, was educated as a lawyer, and was district attorney for Dauphin county in 1827-28, and was clerk of the House of Representatives. He married Elizabeth Cox.


Transcribed by Kathye Thornton, kathyethornton@hotmail.com,

For The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project – http://maley.net/transcription

November 19, 2000

Copyright ă 2000 – All Rights Reserved: Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.

Page 370-371