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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Gurley

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 1129-1131 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The first of this prominent Troy family to settle in America was William Gurley, a native of Scotland, born in 1665, in or near Edinburgh. There is no definite record by which his parentage can be traced. On his arrival here, when little more than a boy, he found a home in the family of Rev. Solomon Stoddard, of Northampton, Massachusetts. He was a good man, and enjoyed a reputation for sincere piety. He married, in 1684, Hester, daughter of John Ingersoll, of Westfield, Massachusetts. William Gurley died at the age of twenty-two years, being accidentally drowned in the Connecticut river. His widow Hester married (second) Benoni Jones, who was slain in the French and Indian war, together with his two infant sons. Hester, the mother, was captured at the same time, and carried to Canada, where she died.

(II) Samuel, only child of William and Hester (Ingersoll) Gurley, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, May 6, 1686. He was of North Coventry, Connecticut, afterwards of Mansfield, in the same state. "He was distinguished for piety, and was eminently useful in the cause of religion and humanity." He married, about 1712, Experience, daughter of Nathaniel and Mary (Atchison) Rust, and granddaughter of Israel and Rebecca (Clark) Rust, all of Northampton, Massachusetts. Samuel Gurley died February 23, 1760, and his wife died July 10, 1768; both are buried in the Gurley burying ground at North Mansfield, Connecticut, where gravestones mark their resting places. Children: Esther, Jonathan, see forward; Samuel, Lois, Eunice, Experience, Margaret, Mary, an unnamed daughter, and Abigail.

(III) Jonathan, eldest son and second child of Samuel and Experience (Rust) Gurley, was born in Mansfield, Connecticut, April 2, 1715. Like his father and grandfather, he was a devout Christian, and was deacon of the Mansfield church. He married Hannah, born April 9, 1709, daughter of Joseph Baker, of Tolland, Connecticut. Deacon Gurley died November 12, 1778, and his wife, May 16, 1796. They sleep in the Gurley burying ground at Mansfield, where their gravestones are yet to be seen. Children: William, Hannah, Jacob Baker, Jonathan, see forward; Daniel, Ebenezer and Titus.

(IV) Jonathan (2), fourth child and third son of Jonathan (1) and Hannah (Baker) Gurley, was born in Mansfield, Connecticut, April 10, 1744, died November 23, 1814. Living in the strenuous times in which he did, there is little wonder that his patriotism was aroused and led him to the army, in which he served with the rank of captain. The names of other Gurleys show on the rolls of revolutionary soldiers in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and a Phineas Gurley responded to the Lexington alarm from Mansfield. Captain Gurley married Jerusha, daughter of Joseph Bennett, of Mansfield. She died January 20, 1835, aged ninety-one years, having survived her husband twenty-one years. Children:

  1. Ephraim, see forward;
  2. Roger;
  3. Jonathan;
  4. Anna, married Abner Abbott;
  5. Jerusha, married Ichabod Griggs;
  6. Esther, married Isaac Hall;
  7. Olive, married Levi Goodell;
  8. Rebecca, married Captain Allen Stewart;
  9. Flavel;
  10. a son who died unnamed;
  11. Harriet, married Jacob Dunham.

(V) Ephraim, eldest child of Captain Jonathan (2) and Jerusha (Bennett) Gurley, was born in Mansfield, Connecticut, February 12, 1765, died September 2, 1845. He lived and died at Mansfield, where the gravestones of himself and wife may be seen in the North Mansfield burying ground. He married, March 20, 1788, Bethia Brooks, who died May 23, 1844, aged seventy-seven years. Children:

  1. Ephraim, see forward;
  2. Clarissa;
  3. Olive, died October 19, 1827;
  4. Marcia, married a Dunham;
  5. Lucius;
  6. Chauncey;
  7. Sophia, married a Winchester;
  8. Esther, died in April, 1830;
  9. Maria, married a Barrows.

(VI) Ephraim (2), eldest son and second child of Ephraim (1) and Bethia (Brooks) Gurley, was born in Mansfield, Connecticut, in 1789, died in Troy, New York, February 7, 1829. He was the first of the family to settle there. In the year 1813 he established an iron foundry in West Troy. Two years later he removed to Troy, where he has the distinction of being the pioneer iron foundryman of Rensselaer county. The business started in 1815 was in company with Alpheus and Truman Hanks, who share with him the honor of being father of this the most important business interest in the county. This foundry was known as the Hot Air Furnace. In 1821 Mr. Gurley became a partner of C. & N. Starbuck, the firm then becoming Starbucks & Gurley. Later, on the death of one of the Starbuck brothers, it was Starbuck & Gurley, manufacturers of machinery, plows, etc. He married, in 1812, Clarissa Sharp, of Willington, Connecticut. Children:

  1. William,
  2. Lewis E., see forward; and
  3. Clara A. Gurley.

(VII) Lewis E., younger of the two sons of Ephraim (2) and Clarissa (Sharp) Gurley, was born in Troy, New York, December 30, 1826. He was educated in private schools, and entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he completed the course. He did not receive his degree until years later, on account of his youth. In 1844 he became apprenticed to Jonas H. Phelps, manufacturer of mathematical instruments. In 1847 he entered Union College, from which he was graduated A.B. with the class of 1851. In association with his brother William, in February, 1852, he purchased the interest of Mr. Phelps, with whom William had been in partnership since 1845, and the firm became W. & L. E. Gurley. The firm prospered, enlarged, and as makers of engineers', surveyors' and mathematical instruments, became favorably known throughout the business world. Their factory was entirely destroyed in the great Troy fire of May 10, 1862, but they immediately rebuilt on a much larger scale, and were ready to resume manufacturing on December 10 of the same year. On January 10, 1887, William Gurley, the senior partner, died, but the name of the old firm was retained, Lewis E. Gurley becoming senior partner, with his son, William F. Gurley, and Paul Cook, son-in-law of William Gurley, associated with him.

Lewis E. Gurley had other and varied interests. In 1887 he was elected president of the Union National Bank of Troy. He was deeply interested in agricultural affairs, and for many years was president of the Rensselaer County Agricultural Society, and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity it afforded him of becoming intimately acquainted with the farming community. He also took an active interest in education, and with his elder brother was the means of saving to Troy the famous Emma Willard School, then the Troy Female Seminary. This school has benefited greatly through the friendship and liberality of the Gurley family. Clara A. Gurley, only daughter of Ephraim Gurley, was educated there, and after the death of William Gurley the thought of giving the school a larger and more modern building as a memorial to sister, brother and father, took form in the dedication, in June, 1892, of beautiful Gurley Memorial Hall, the furnishings being supplied by the generosity of the heirs of William and Lewis E. Gurley, the latter being president of the board of trustees for many years, and as prodigal of his time and labor in behalf of the school as he was generous with his means. In church affiliations Lewis E. Gurley was a Baptist, and for over forty years he was superintendent of the Sunday school of the Fifth Street Church. For twenty-five years he was president of the County Sunday School Union. He took a deep interest in the Young Men's Christian Association, and was particularly liberal toward the railroad branch of this work. Engrossed in business as he was, active in religious and philanthropic work always, yet he did not neglect his duties as a citizen, but rendered to his city efficient service in various positions, chiefly in connection with the public school system. In 1861 he was elected to the school board, and served for twelve years, part of the time as president of the board.

Mr. Gurley married (first) in 1856, Olive E. Barnes, of Brunswick, who died in 1874. In 1878 he married (second) A. Louise Brown. He was very domestic in his tastes, and in home and books found his greatest enjoyment. Children by first marriage:

  1. William F., see forward, and
  2. Grace, married J. L. Young, of Watervliet, New York.

Children by second marriage:

  1. May L. and
  2. Edith B.

(VIII) William Frank, only son of Lewis E. and Olive E. (Barnes) Gurley, was born in Troy, New York, June 11, 1860. He received his preparatory and academic education in Troy, entered Williams College, and was graduated therefrom with the class of 1882. Immediately after leaving college he entered the factory of William and Lewis E. Gurley as an apprentice to the machinist and brass workers' trade. He became thoroughly familiar with the practical side of the business, and on the death of William Gurley was admitted to a partnership with his father. He devoted himself with the same zeal to the managerial detail of the business, as he had to the manufacturing, and on the death of his father, Lewis E. Gurley, succeeded him as president of the company. The firm continues its successful career under his management, and retains its proud position at the head of the companies manufacturing surveyors' and engineers' instruments. Like his father, Mr. Gurley is interested in other lines of activity, both of a business and public nature. He is president of the Union National Bank of Troy, treasurer of Taylor Electric Truck Company, trustee of Troy Savings Bank, treasurer of Troy Cemetery Association, and actively interested in many other of Troy's business concerns. He has been a lifelong friend of the Emma Willard School, and besides the benefactions noted serves as president of the board of trustees. He was the first president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, and has always retained his interest and membership. He is an active member of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, of which he is treasurer. His club is the Troy. In political affiliation he is a Republican. He married, November 24, 1887, Grace B., daughter of John and Sylvia (Bowen) Ranken, of Troy (see Ranken II). Mrs. Gurley is an active worker in the cause of missions. They have one child, Helen Ranken.

(The Ranken Line)

Grace (Ranken) Gurley is a daughter of William John Ranken, and granddaughter of John Ranken, born February 26, 1810, at Woodbank, Garragh, Londonderry, Ireland, died on the family estate at Albia, Troy, New York, September 10, 1864. He came to the United States about 1830, and after brief residence in New York City and Troy, settled in Troy. He was familiar with woolen manufacturing and was all his life associated with that industry in Troy, first as employee of the Troy Woolen Mills, later as partner and owner of the Albia Mills. He had a most successful career, and rose to great prominence in the city. He sold his manufacturing interests and retired from business a few years prior to his death. He married Nancy McNally, born May, 1816, Londonderry, Ireland, died at Albia, Troy, March 20, 1890. Children:

  1. Hugh Fulton, sailed on a whaling voyage and was never again heard from;
  2. Hannah Delia, born October 8, 1836, married George Billings;
  3. Henry Stearns, May 26, 1838;
  4. William John, see forward;
  5. Robert Brown, January 2, 1842;
  6. David Molyneux, May 16, 1843, married Mary Morrison;
  7. Elizabeth Jane, March 8, 1845;
  8. Peter B., February 6, 1847;
  9. Sarah L., November 20, 1848, married J. McDowell;
  10. Mary, September 26, 1850.

(II) William John, son of John and Nancy (McNally) Ranken, was born at Albia, Troy, New York, 1839. He was well educated and fitted for his future business career. He was associated with his father, and uncle, Hugh Ranken, in their important enterprises, and with his brother, Henry Stearns Ranken, in Cohoes. He became a well-known and influential citizen, exerting a good influence in public affairs. He was a willing and efficient helper in all matters effecting Troy interests, and did much for the public good. He was a man of cultivated tastes, which he gratified in his beautiful country home at Albia, and in travel. He was an attendant of the Baptist church, and supported the Republican party. He married Sylvia Jennette Bowen, born in Adams, Massachusetts, died in Troy, March 24, 1905. Children:

  1. Grace B., married William F. Gurley; child, Helen Ranken, (see Gurley VIII);
  2. Emma Gertrude;
  3. William John (2), now of Seattle, Washington;
  4. Thomas Bowen, now of Toledo, Ohio, married Cora Hill, of Chicago;
  5. Herbert D., of Troy, unmarried.

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