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Willis A. Gorman was born January 12, 1816 in Fleming County, Kentucky, the son of David and Elizabeth Gorman. The family moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 1836 where Willis studied law at Indiana University. He was elected to the Indiana legislature when he was 23 and served five terms. He enlisted as a private in the Third Indiana Volunteers when the war with Mexico broke out and was elected a major in June 1846. After the regiment returned home he organized the Fourth Indiana Regiment, which fought in Mexico. After his return to Bloomington he was appointed to Congress (1849) and served two terms. In 1853 President Franklin Pierce appointed Gorman governor of Minnesota Territory; he arrived on May 13 and served until 1857, serving concurrently as superintendent of Indian affairs for Minnesota Territory. He began a law practice in St. Paul following his term in office.

In April 1861, when the Civil War began, Minnesota governor Alexander Ramsey offered the first regiment for the Union and made Willis A. Gorman a colonel in the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. On October 1, 1861 he was promoted to brigadier general. He served until he resigned December 14, 1863, and then returned to St. Paul where he died May 20, 1876.

W. A. Gorman married Martha Stone (d. 1864) of Bloomington, Indiana. They had five children: Richard L., James W., Louisa G., E. S., and Martha. He married his second wife, Emily Newington, in 1865.


CDV General Willis Gorman & Wife 1st Minnesota

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