Biographical and Genealogical information

George Gorton II, circa 1916
The original version of this web page, which contains a lot of information about George's career.

George Gorton II's early career

About 1874:
George II builds his first machine - a wood lathe. It was wind powered, made completely out of wood, and used tallow to lubricate the bearings. It was wiped out by a heavy windstorm just after being completed.
George II teaches mechanical drafting at the YMCA for some period of time.
After his father's death, (and with little experience) George II is forced to take over Racine Basket Manufacturing, Inc. The business is recorded as having more than 200 people in its employ (but unknown how many at that time)
1888 - 1893:
George II works for basket company as a salesman; eventually forced out by "a certain individual who wanted to acquire the now profitable basket factory."
George II, along with Fred Graham, are let go from Racine Basket, and form Gorton & Graham Machine Co.
Since business was very slow initially, Graham left the company in 1894-1895 to rejoin his father in the family contracting company. More details are available on the Company History page.
At a 1952 business association dinner, George III comments on his fathers work habits - in the early days, "his work day extended from 7 AM to 6PM and oftentimes again after supper until past midnight." And it was apparently not infrequent that a passing policeman would stop at the plant and insist that he go home (at 2AM). George III rigged the lights [in George II's office] such that they went off at 2AM, which would force George II to go home. (Racine Journal Times article, 15 April, 1952)
1975: George Gorton III publishes his Oklahoma memoirs. Tidbits about George II include that he liked Piper Heidsick plug tobacco.

George Gorton II's family

On November 28, 1900, George married Sophy Thorstenson. Sometimes spelled Tostenson. Sophy was born October 29, 1871 in Arendal, Norway, and migrated with her parents to Racine in 1873. It is probable that some of these pictures are of Sophy and her family.
George and Sophy had four children: A three page letter (written by Betty to Charles' wife, Dorothy, of some content transcribed from her mother's diary regarding Charles and James.

Here is Sophy's obituary for October 27, 1930. Cause of death unknown, but oral history has it to be lung cancer (Suzie; Dick)
On February 1, 1935, George remarried, to Katherine Bishop. "Aunt" Katherine was born March 4, 1897 in Luzerne, Pennsylvania. Here is George II's obituary from 1955. As well as a more extensive article: parts one, two and three. Katherine's date of death unknown (at least by this author)

Photos of George Gorton II

The image at the top of this page is from Hist16.
Another version of that photo has notations on the back of it being from Nov 1, 1924 (crossed out) and "Aug - 1930". But there is almost no difference at all (down to specific white hairs in the beard) between the two, so the notations on the larger print are likely the date when that print was produced, and not the date of the photo. Other notes say to "Return to Art Pierce at Gorton's Racine St. Plant" and there is an embossed stamp of "Hein" in the lower right corner of the other photo. This photo of George II was likely taken in 1869:

He appears to be in his teens in this (enlarged) photo:
On his 90th birthday, at work. Note that he is wearing his Army Navy "E" award pin.
This photo, taken on his 90th birthday (February 5, 1955) of George, and (clockwise from top right) granddaughters Ann, Betty, Patty, Bea. At the upper left is Katherine, his 2nd wife. Photo probably taken in his home.
A very brief obituary; and a much more lengthy obituary in 3 parts: part1, part2, and part3.

Various personal financial records

All of George II's income tax returns have survived, as well as some other personal financial records, such as the expenses incurred for the construction of Gorton Hall, a batch of bonds he purchased in 1916, and miscellaneous expenses for the years 1912 through 1922. The taxes make for an interesting read, if nothing other than to find out what the historical forms looked like, and what the rates were.
  • 1916 Bond purchases
  • Gorton Hall expenses
  • Expenses 1912-1922
  • Taxes: 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1917 (amended) 1918 1919
  • Taxes: 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929
  • Taxes: 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
  • Taxes: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
  • Taxes: 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
  • Miscellaneous artifacts

  • Family photos
    Betty, Charles (in the middle), and James. Year unknown.
    Betty, year unknown.
    James (in the back) with Charles 'driving'. Year unknown, photo postcard.
    Photo postcard with George III and Betty. Sept 21, 1907.
    Text is:We have been spending the day in Milwaukee. How do you like our pictures? With Love, Geo. + Betty.
    Back of above postcard. Relationship to Mrs. Chas. Johnson of Chicago is completely unknown.
    Christmas photo/card, dated Dec. 1924 (but it seems unlikely that the photo was taken in December...)
    And all of the signatures on the back. The chopped off content on the right hand side says: "Delay unavoidable"
    A photo postcard: James on the left and Charles on the right. The identities of the two women are unknown.
    Charles and George III, year unknown.
    Buildings in Cement, OK. Probably "Gortonville" area. Based upon the map on the inside front of George III's book, the well is probably the No. 1 Surbeck (oil) well, or possibly the No. 1 Wade (gas) well.
    Probably from March, 1921. A cropped version of this photo exists in George III's book, with the caption "Breaking a road through the drifts."
    Yes, the fuzzy/obscured thing on the left is a car. Someone was moving pretty quickly when they hit the drift. It also seems that there is someone watching from the door of the office building (marked "A").
    A letter from Sophy to Charles, possibly 1926
    The envelope from the family's 1929 christmas card.
    With two inserts inside, both signed by the family members.
    Table of contents to George's (unpublished) autobiography
    Some sketches for said manuscript
    His pocketwatch
    A chestnut given to John Gorton as a gift, dated Oct. 1, 1949

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