There are two branches of our family who no longer use ‘Gorby’ as their surname. They now use ‘Gorbey’.
The first branch which uses this spelling are the descendants of Robert Cloud Gorby of Delaware Co, PA. Yes, this is the same Robert Cloud Gorby whose brother was our sole Confederate solder featured in the previous post.
Robert’s name is spelled both as ‘Gorby’ and ‘Gorbey’ throughout his life. Most of his children died at an early age, but by 1900, his son James Henry used the spelling ‘Gorbey’ exclusively.
Three of James’ sons had sons of their own, living south and southwest of Philadelphia in Delaware County and Chester County. One of James’ grandsons was also named James Henry Gorbey. He was mayor of the city of Chester in Delaware County from 1964-1967 and was nominated to the U.S. District Court by Richard Nixon and confirmed by the Senate in 1970. He served as a federal judge until his death in 1977.
There are now over 30 families, located primarily in eastern Pennsylvania that now use this spelling.
The second branch descends from David Elsworth Gorby who was born in Wetzel Co, VA in 1855. It took more than 10 years to finally nail down proof of who his parents were.
I was approached by Linda Dean Gorbey back in 2001. She had done quite a bit of research and was sure that David Elsworth Gorby’s parents were Henry Gorby and Hannah Lehew. Henry was born about 1824 and was a 4th generation Gorby (son of Jesse, son of Thomas, son of Samuel).
The problem we were never able to get around was that Henry’s name had never appeared on any census record. We only had the reference from the book “Peter Lehew of Front Royal, Virginia, and some of his descendants“, compiled by James Huston Le Hue and Edith Foster, Published by J.H. Le Hue, 1967, which states so clearly on page 72 :
“iii. Hannah Lehew, b. abt. 1836; m. Henry Gorby?”
Gotta love that question mark.
Back in 2004, it was noticed that on the 1850 Census, in the 33rd District, Marshall Co, VA, the household listed next to that of Henry’s parents, Jesse and Anna (Wade) Gorby was the same family on page 72 of the “Peter Lehew” book and that Hannah was listed with them, age 14.
But it wasn’t until this year, while doing detailed research tracing all of the ‘Gorby’ records available at West Virginia Division of Culture and History web site, that I ran across records from Wetzel County where the parents were “Henry and Hannah Gorby”.
In the birth records database were:
David Gorby, b. Mar 24, 1855. Parents: Henry Gorby & Hannah Gorby
Wm R Gorby, b. Nov 27, 1856. Parents: Henry Gorby & Hannah Gorby
In the death records database was:
Josephus Gorby, Age at death: 1 month, Place of Death: Rocky Run, Parents: Henry Gorby & Hannah Gorby
So now we had proof of Henry and Hannah being married and also that they had three sons. The birth date for ‘David Gorby’ on the database matched the birth date Linda had for David Elsworth Gorby.
Additionally, finding the birth record of David’s brother William R Gorby solved another problem. William appears on the 1870 Census living with Henry’s brother Dennis Gorby’s family, and is listed as ‘nephew’. We had never known which of Dennis’ brothers was William’s father.
David Elsworth Gorby used both the spelling ‘Gorby’ and ‘Gorbey’ throughout his life. He married Mary Kimble of Aleppo Twp, Greene Co, PA about 1875 and appears with her there on the 1880 Census. I have been able to document they had three children, though it is claimed they had as many as eight.
On the 1900 Census David is living in Marion Co, WV with his second wife Sarah McLaughlin, whom he married in Wetzel Co, WV in 1893. David and Sarah had six sons and one daughter, and every one of his sons spelled their last name as ‘Gorbey’.
Today there are almost 50 families, located primarily in West Virginia and eastern Ohio that now use this spelling.