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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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ABRAM ORRIS, Esq., a justice of the peace and a prominent insurance man of Frankford township, Cumberland county, was born April 1, 1852, on a farm near the Stone Church, in Frankford township, a son of George B. Orris and a grandson of Christopher Orris.

Christopher Orris was born in 178; and died in 1853. When he came first to Pennsylvania he settled in Perry county and then came to Frankford township, Cumberland county, settling on the farm above mentioned. His children were: George B., who died in Frankford township; Christopher, who died in West Pennsboro township; Zachariah, who died in Iowa City, Iowa; Annie M. and Maria, both of whom died in Frankford township; Catherine, who died in Mifflin township: and Rebecca and Sarah, both of whom died on the farm. The mother of these children was born in 1789 and died in 1878, in Frankford township.

George B. Orris, father of Abram Orris, was born Nov. 9, 1823, and died Dec. 7, 1889. He was engaged as a laborer when he was married to Rebecca Shambaugh, who was born April 21, 1832, and they lived one year at Stone Church and then moved to Bowman’s Bridge. After living there one year they settled on a farm near Greason, where they remained eight years, coming then to Frankford township. Here Mr. Orris bought a tract of 110 acres in 1866.

In 1864 Mr. Orris enlisted for service in the Civil war and he participated in the battle at Fort Steadman in front of Petersburg. He returned to his home safely but had a very narrow escape when, on April 2, 1865, a shell from the enemy’s battery tore a hole in his trousers and dropped into his boot. He was honorably discharged in 1865, at Camp Curtin, at Harrisburg. Before his return his wife died of typhoid fever. In 1866, as previously stated, he bought the old Jacob Fair farm of 110 acres and settled down to farming there. In 1868 he married Elizabeth Gotshall, who died in September, 1882. The children of the first marriage were: Abram; Anna M., born Feb. 19, 1856, a resident of Frankford township; and Alvina, who died in infancy, Sept. 1, 1859. By the second marriage there were no children.

Abraham Orris was educated in his native township. On Sept. 20, 1874, he married Jane M. Derr, who was born April 12, 1857, daughter of Amos Derr, of Middlesex township, and children as follows have come to this union: Annie M., born July 22, 1875; George A., Aug. 6, 1877; Bertha E., Dec. 11, 1881; Emma E., Oct. 7, 1884; Herman R., July 21, 1889, and Edna, April 20, 1893 all surviving. Annie M. is the wife of Harry Shenk and lives at Newville; George A. married Effie Waggoner in 1899, and located two miles south of Newville; and Bertha married Charles Baughman in 1901 and lives at Kerrsville, West Pennsboro township.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Orris went to housekeeping on the G. B. Orris farm at Frankford, where they remained five years, and then moved to Bloserville, where Mr. Orris bought a half interest in the general mercantile store of L. J. Shambaugh. After continuing there three years he then sold his interest to Francis Mentzer, Sr., and spent the next year in selling sewing machines and organs, at Bloserville. Then he bought one-half of his father’s farm, and in 1885 he built a fine barn on his property. However, he continued in the agency business. At the February election in 1887 Mr. Orris was elected justice of the peace, an office for which he seems particularly well fitted. He is a man of deliberate judgment and of keen understanding, and that his decisions have been in accordance with law and jurisprudence may be indicated by his re-election to this responsible position. He has had many duties to perform as administrator, and some of the estates have been very difficult to settle up satisfactorily, but in all cases Mr. Orris has brought order out of chaos. Among these may be mentioned the estates of: James D. Miller, Aug. 24, 1889; Joseph Myers, Dec. 7, 1889: George B. Orris, May, 1892; J. C. Mordorf, Dec. 17, 1895; executor of Jane M. Brehm, May 30, 1896; executor of Susan Holcomb, May, 1899; agent for the heirs of Israel Koser, deceased, March 5, 1901; executor of Frederick Myers, April 1, 1901; administrator of Caroline Minich, April 27, 1901; executor for Mary Worst, Feb. 20, 1902; executor of Henry Zimmerman, April 2, 1902; administrator of Mary A. Walter, Dec. 10, 1902; and executor of Sarah E. Arnold, Sept. 3, 1902. Mr. Orris had a very curious case, which gave him much concern, when he was called upon to be administrator of the late John Myers, who died without kindred except his widow, and with no will. The estate consisted of $3,200 worth of personal property, three farms, three tracts of timber land, and two lots in Bloserville. There was no precedent for action, it being the first case of its kind in Cumberland county. The satisfactory settlement of this and other cases has but increased the confidence and esteem in which Mr. Orris has long been held by his fellow citizens.

Mr. Orris has been a very active and prominent member of the Bloserville Lutheran Church, and was a member of the building committee, in 1891, which raised the funds and erected the present handsome structure. For more than ten years he has been one of the deacons, and for a like period has been the very efficient superintendent of the Sabbath-school.

In 1894 Mr. Orris took the agency for the leading fire insurance companies which he still represents: The Mutual of Mowersville, Franklin Co., Pa.; Patrons and Allen & East Pennsboro, of Mechanicsburg; and the North American Stock Co. He still resides on his fine farm, which is located a mile and a half east of Bloserville. His life has been one unusually full of interest. His many public duties have been performed with fidelity, and the respect in which he is held has been earned by an honest, upright life.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania published in 1905 by The Genealogical Publishing Company. 

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