Biographical and Genealogical information about George Gorton I
|George Gorton I||Dec. 25, 1825 - 14 June, 1888||born in Rochdale, England.
|Ann Buffham||Oct 21, 1832 - Oct. 16, 1862||born in Rochdale, England; George's first wife
|Elizabeth Buffham||April 8, 1838 - April 9, 1914||born in Rochdale, England; George's second wife
George I & Lizzie, date unknown.
A later (in life) photo of George I, date unknown
The passenger manifest for the ship Constellation, out of Liverpool, Oct. 2, 1850
arriving at the port of New York shows the following people were on said ship (and
The ages are off by 10 years (low) on Wm. & Mrs. Buffham, and by a
year for George Gorton I.
The most detail to be found about George I comes from
He emigrated in 1850 to Southport (now Kenosha), where he was a drug clerk
for a Mr. Robinson (possibly Hon. Frederick Robinson, based on a description in
[Port79]), who was a druggist
at that time. About 1851, George I relocated to Racine, and had a business
partnership with Philip Thorpe as Gorton & Thorpe, druggist and grocers.
This is listed as having continued until January, 1864, and is implied by
[Hist16] as being the
the first drug store of Racine. One rather surprising revelation about this
business comes from
[GG2mem], which notes that
Gorton & Thorpe exported BUTTER! to England.
|King (Kirkpatrick) Buffham||7|
Ann Buffham emigrated with her parents to Lake County, Illinois in October, 1850.
On 6 July, 1854, George I and Ann married, and had three daughters, Minnie,
Eliza, and Annie. Ann (George's first wife) died in October, 1862.
The obituary (22 Oct, 1862 Racine Weekly Advocate) describes: "Her health
has been quite feeble for 6 months past, but for some weeks previous to her death
she was apparently improving. Last Thur. eve., after hearing her little ones
say their nightly prayers, she sat down with her sister to sing the beautiful S.S
(Sunday School?) hymn "Homeward bound". As soon as the piece was finished,
she went toward the bed, sayingi shw was faint & falling upon it expired almost
instantly without a struggle or groan.
George married Ann's younger sister, Lizzie, on 9 May, 1864.
George II was born on 5 February, 1865. According to
[GG2mem], sometime in 1866-1867,
the entire family (sans George II, who was left with his grandparents Buffham
in Milbourn, IL) returned to England to find a home. They purchased a home
at Douglas, Isle of Mann, and after returning to Racine, packed everything
up and relocated to Douglas. The family stayed there for a bit more than a
year, at which time they re-emigrated to Racine. Apparently George I had
decided that moving to America had been a mistake, but after a year back
in England, both George and Lizzie came to the decision that "the opportunities
and chances for happiness were present in the United States" and moved back.
There is a notice in the Racine Weekly Advocate
on 23 Aug, 1865 that "George Gorton will leave Racine for several year's
absence about the 1st of Oct. He offers his house and lot on Pearl St.,
near the Presby. Church for sale. Stable and lot on Wisconsin St.; also
buggy and harness. A similar repeat of the notice also appeared in the Sept 13th,
Upon their return to Racine, they lived in a cottage on the 900 block of
13th street. This time, George I went into business with his brother-in-law,
William S. Buffham (as Gorton & Buffham) selling paints, oils, and wallpaper.
According to a newspaper article (probably Racine Journal Times) from 1 July, 1934,
(ref: archives of [RHM])
George I, and W.S. Buffham bought out Bronard & Heyer in 1870, and operated
as Gorton & Buffham until 1888; at that time, W.S. bought George I out, and
the firm changed its name to W.S. Buffham & Son. This business survived until
at least 1934, based upon a 45 page
About 1870, the family moved to a house at 1113 Thirteenth St, purchased
from John Tapley (of the J.I. Case company).
Sometime after George went into the paint business with W.S. Buffham, he made a large
loan to the Racine Basket Manufacturing Co.,
(then located at the northwest corner of Clark and 14th St.)
and when the company failed to pay back the original loan, he "was compelled" to
invest enough more money to acquire Racine Basket (
The basket company was housed in wooden buildings until completely destroyed
in a fire in 1878, at which time George I had the factory rebuilt out of
brick and stone. At the time of his death (14 June, 1888) Racine Basket
was apparently a rather prosperous firm.
describes the factory as having at least 45,000 square feet of manufacturing
space, as well as a storage area of 359,000 cubic feet, and employing (during
the 1891 'season') around 200 people.
George I was a Republican, and attended the Baptist church (presumably First
Baptist of Racine).
Photos of the Gorton and Buffham Paint company, circa 1885
George I died in Racine on 14 June, 1888 -
indicates this was a combination of "overwork and a nervous breakdown caused
by worry over a business transaction which put him considerably in debt through
no fault of his own."
Other misc. newspaper references (not verified)
These are all [News] items
referenced by 3x5 file cards in the archives of
Morning Advocate - 20 Sept, 1854. Partnership with Robison and Thorp
The article reads:
The partnership heretofore existing between Philip Thorp and F. Robinson, in
the business of Drugs, Medicines and Groceries, is this day dissolved by mutual
consent. The business will in future be carried on by Philip Thorp and George
Gorton, who are duly authorized to settle the business of the old firm.
Sept 7, 1854
F. Robinson, Philip Thorp, George Gorton
Advertisements in papers of the period have ads for a product called "Camphine"
carried by Thorp and Gorton.
Racine Weekly Advocate - 30 Sept. 1863 - listed as druggist and chemist at
148 Main St.
Daily Journal - 15 June, 1888. Obituary: died at home (1163 13th St.) of
"paralysis of the brain". For 16 years he was a druggist
at Thorpe & Gorton; Sole proprietor of Racine Basket Manufacturing Co. and
senior member of Gorton & Buffham Paint Co. Survived by a wife, 6 children,
2 sisters (Mrs. Holt and Mrs. McAllister of Chicago) and 3 brothers (Hugh and
Henry of Racine, James of Rock City).
The death registration also lists cause of death as "Paralysis of the Brain".
|Amazingly enough, the Racine Heritage Museum had original tax
reciepts for 1866 thru 1891 for the property of George Gorton I; some of the
early ones are for the same property, but for the owner prior to George Gorton.
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