SHOCH, Michael
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Michael Shoch


SHOCH, Michael, the grandfather of Col. Samuel, was a native of Germany, and on his emigration to America settled near Philadelphia. He had several children, among whom was John, whose birth occurred at the paternal home near Philadelphia. He removed to Harrisburg in 1792 and remained there until his death in 1842. He married Miss Salome Gilbert, of Philadelphia, and their children were: Mary, Sarah, Rebecca, Eliza, Cassandra, Samuel, John, Jacob, and one died in childhood. Samuel was born in Harrisburg May 28, 1797. His career covers some of the most eventful periods in our national history, and has been so closely identified with local events that it forms an inseparable part of them. His early education was commenced at preparatory schools before the establishment of the present school system, and continued at the Nottingham Academy, Cecil county, Md. His further education and preparation for professional life were the result of personal application directed only by himself. As early as 1812 he was recorder of patents under John Cochran, secretary of the land office and recorder of surveys in the office of Andrew Porter, then surveyor general. In September, 1814, he joined the Harrisburg artillerists, a company formed within twenty-four hours after the British had burned the capitol at Washington, and was the youngest man in the four companies that volunteered from Harrisburg on that occasion. The company marched to York and thence to Baltimore, and remained on duty there until the British withdrew and abandoned their contemplated attack on that city.

In May, 1817, he began the study of law under Hon. Amos Ellmaker, attorney general, and was admitted to the Dauphin county bar in 1820. He was always aggressive, and as a young lawyer displayed great energy and fearlessness in prosecuting what he believed to be wrong. He took an active part in an unsuccessful attempt to impeach Judge Frank, of the Lebanon and Dauphin district, for alleged offenses. In 1835 he was elected clerk of the House of Representatives by a union of the Whig and Anti-Masonic members, defeating Francis R. Shunk, the Democratic candidate. In 1837 he was secretary to the convention which gave us the Constitution under which Pennsylvania lived from 1838 to 1873, and at the adjournment of that body was unanimously thanked. The Colonel finds special pleasure in recounting his services with that body.

In 1839 he cast his fortunes with Columbia and went there to live, having been elected cashier of the Columbia Bank and Bridge Company. The company had a nominal capital of $150,000, but actually not more than $80,000 to $100,000, as a bridge costing more than $175,000 had been swept away by an ice freshet in 1832 and the loss had not been wholly made up. The capital was afterwards increased first to $250,000 and in 1837 to $322,500 with a change of title to Columbia Bank. In 1865 the bank accepted the national bank law and became the Columbia National Bank, with a capital of $500,000, at which it still remains, with a surplus fund of $150,000. He has thus maintained official relations with the corporation as its cashier and president for forty-four years, during a period the events of which are matters of local history. Colonel Shoch was married, in 1832, to Mrs. Hannah Evans, daughter of Amos Slaymaker, of Lancaster county, who was the leading manager of the line of stages between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Her death having occurred in March, 1860, he was married a second time, August, 1865, to Miss Anna E., daughter of Robert Barber, of Columbia, Pa.

In 1848 Colonel Shoch was appointed aide to Gov. William Johnson, which by courtesy conferred upon him the title of a colonel, a title by which he is better known than by his Christian name. In 1860 he was made a member of the State committee of the Republican party and a delegate to the National Convention at Chicago which nominated Abraham Lincoln, the martyr President. During the war he was foremost in deeds of charity and patriotism, and presented to the first company formed in Columbia a beautiful and costly silk flag. He always took a warm interest in our public schools, and through his active exertions and liberal donations the Shoch library, in honor of its patron, was established.

Colonel Shoch also took an active interest in local enterprises, and was at one and the same time president of the Columbia Gas and Water companies, the Old Public Ground Company, and the Marietta, Chestnut Hill and Washington Turnpike Road companies. He was also treasurer of the Reading and Columbia Railroad Company, but resigned in 1862, before going abroad on a continental tour. He was for ten years president of the school board of the borough of Columbia, during which period a spacious edifice devoted to the use of the public schools was erected. He served a term as director of the poor of Lancaster county, two terms as county auditor, was a trustee of the Millersville Normal School, and a director of the Wrightsville, York and Gettysburg railroad. If responsible official positions are a measure of public confidence, then Colonel Shoch was surely favored by his fellow-citizens.

He was always an active worker in the Sunday-school cause. In the early part of his professional career he was both a teacher and superintendent of the Sunday-school of the Lutheran church in Harrisburg. His zeal for the cause has been re-awakened, and his active services as a teacher of a Bible class in the Columbia Fifth Street Presbyterian Sunday-school, together with the erection, furnishing and endowment of their beautiful chapel, named “Salome,” in honor of his mother, attests the sincerity of his motives. In 1854, and for several years thereafter, he maintained at his own expense a public night school, employed teachers and furnished books, etc., for the benefit of apprentices and other young persons who could not attend school during the day, and was happily rewarded by finding the school well attended. Many of the pupils, since grown up, have become prominent and well-to-do citizens, who gratefully acknowledge the advantages they derived from the enterprise. In politics he has been uniformly and radically anti-Democratic, a great admirer of Thaddeus Stevens, and is in full accord with the Republican administration. His life has been an eventful and busy one, and he has the consciousness of knowing that he had neglected no duty or shirked no responsibility. Having faithfully performed the duties of cashier of the Columbia National Bank for a period of thirty-nine years he was, in December, 1878, elected its president.


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Transcribed by Marjorie Tittle for the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - 30 Oct 2000 Copyright 2000 - All Rights Reserved; Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.