[p. 444] one of the progressive and substantial citizens of Slippery Rock Township, is the owner of a valuable farm of 140 acres located about eight miles southeast of the city of New Castle. He comes of an old and respected family of Lawrence County, and is a son of Jacob and Nancy (Elliott) Van Gorder, and a grandson of Jacob Van Gorder, Sr.
Jacob Van Gorder, Sr., was born in New Jersey, and early in life moved west to Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he lived for a time. About the year 1800 he moved to Perry Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, and settled on a small farm which has since been known as the Van Gorder homestead, being at the present time owned by Alvi S. Van Gorder, grandson of this pioneer. The latter died on that place in the seventy-seventh year of his age.
Jacob Van Gorder, Jr., was born on the farm in Perry Township in 1805, having resided there all his life. He assisted his father in clearing the home place, and in 1839 bought an adjoining farm, which had been originally settled by a Mr. Allen. That same year be built a stone house of material quarried by a Mr. Maulin, and had one of the best residences in that vicinity for many years. He finished clearing the farm, set out a large orchard, and made his place one of fine improvements. He was a man of great energy and exceptional business ability. In 1844 he built a dam across Slippery Rock Creek and erected a sawmill, which he operated with unvarying success the remainder of his days. It was a day of development and improvements, and the demand for lumber for some years was very great. In 1859 he built a grist mill, which also flourished during the remainder of his career. He died in 1887, at the age of eighty-two years. He was united in marriage with Nancy Elliott, a daughter of Andrew Elliott, of Perry Township, and she lived to reach the age of seventy-four years, dying in 1884. Nine children were the issue of this union, namely: Andrew E., Israel, Margaret, Louisa, Elmira, Alvi S., James, Nancy Belle, and Robert S. Religiously, the parents of this family were Presbyterians. He was a Republican in politics subsequent to the war of the Rebellion, but prior to that time was a Whig.
James A. Van Gorder was born in Perry Township, Lawrence County, April 20, 1844, and was reared on the home farm, which is now owned by Joseph A. Van Gorder, a nephew. He attended the old schoolhouse in that district, it being equipped with the benches and desks running along three walls of the room, as characterized the schools of pioneer days. This schoolhouse was but twenty feet square and was much crowded, the enrollment of pupils reaching forty; his instructor during most of his time in school was Mr. J. R. Miller. After leaving school he turned his attention to farming operations, and upon the death of his father he inherited an interest in the home farm. In 1886 he settled on his present place, which he purchased in 1880. He erected a modern dwelling house and a complete set of buildings on the place, his barn being one of the largest and best in this section of the county. During his younger days he operated a saw and grist mill one mile above Wurtemburg with much success, but has since given his attention to general farming. He is now drilling an oil well on the farrm, it being the second drilled in the neighborhood.
Janes A. Van Gorder was joined in marriage with Narcissa N. Frew, a daughter of James and Eliza Frew, of Slippery Rock Township, they being old settlers and large landowners here. Of six children born to Mr. and Mrs. Frew, Narcissa N. is the only one living. To Mr. and Mrs. Van Gorder were born six children, as follows: William I., who is unmarried; Louisa Agnes, wife of Edwin F. Menser, by whom she has two childrenLouisa Elma and James Joseph; Emma Elmira, wife of Charles Wilson, by whom she has a son, Warren; Thomas J., and George Sherman, who died in infancy; and Theresa Jane, who died at the age of five years. In politics Mr. Van Gorder is independent, casting his ballot for the man he deems best fitted for the office at issue. Religiously, he and his wife are members of the Presbyterian Church.
20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens Hon. Aaron L. Hazen Richmond-Arnold Publishing Company, Chicago, Ill., 1908
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