Pages 536 to 538

The Laury family are of Scotch lineage, Michael Laury, the great-grandfather of David, having been a native of Scotland. He married Barbara Goodshall, born in Würtemberg, Germany, and with his wife emigrated to the United States in 1756. Among their children was Godfrey, born November 22, 1756, in Philadelphia, and married April 4, 1781, to Susanna Rockel, whose son, John, the father of David, was born September 12, 1784, in Lehigh County, and married in 1804 to Maria Magdalena Kuhns. Their son, David, was born June 1, 1805, in Lehigh County, Pa. He was raised as a farmer-boy, his schooling, which was in German, being quite limited. After attaining a suitable age he
learned the blacksmith trade, and during this time employed his leisure hours in study and reflection. While by self-application he gained in book-knowledge, he also educated himself by close observation, judgment of men and things, and keen perceptions. On the 12th of August 1827, he
was married to Maria Kline, a daughter of Jacob Kline, of Lowhill township, with whom he lived happily for a period of over fifty years, and during which time they were blessed with ten children, - four sons and six daughters, - of whom seven survive. In the year 1832 he moved to Laury’s Station, then called Slate Dam, and there engaged in the mercantile business in copartnership with Messrs. Rupp & Shifferstein. Later on the firm dissolved partnership, and Mr. Laury continued the business on his own account. Encouraged by his well doing, and believing that a grist-mill was a need in that section, he erected one. The enterprise proving a success, he established not only a business reputation, but also a credit which few men in those days enjoyed. In company with James Newhard he at the same time held the agency of the Union Slate Company, of Baltimore, Md., and did so well that in the year 1844 he associated with himself Hon. James M. Porter, Samuel Taylor, Thomas Craig, Sr., and Robert McDowell in the slate quarrying business at Kern’s Mill, in Washington township, the spot now known as Slatington. His business prospered amazingly, and when yet a young man he manifested an interest in politics. He also connected himself with the military companies of the county when the volunteer organization was a power, and afterwards held various commissions from captain to major-general. Being a warm democrat, his military association led him to an active participation in the politics of the county, and gradually he acquired considerable influence in his party, and ultimately shared its honors.

In 1846 he was nominated for the Assembly by his party for the legislative district then entitled to two members jointly, the Democrats of Carbon having at the same time put in the field Peter Bowman. Mr. Laury was, however, defeated. In 1850 he was renominated for the Legislature, and elected, and so also in the years 1851-53, in each instance contrary to his own wishes, and without opposition. In 1856 he was elected Presidential elector of the district, and on the electoral college meeting at Harrisburg, on December 3d of that year, he was present and recorded his vote for James Buchanan for President of the United States. In 1853 he was appointed postmaster at Laury’s Station, and held the position until after the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. A year later he was reappointed to the position, without his consent, by the very party that had charged him with disloyalty, and reaccepting the commission forwarded he held the position until his death. In 1865 he was elected justice of the peace of his township, and in 1867 was appointed by the courts of Lehigh and Northampton to represent the district in the Board of State Revenue Commissioners for adjusting the amount of taxation to be raised in the different sections and counties in the State. In 1868 he was elected associate judge of the courts of the county, and five years later, after the expiration of his term, was re-elected to the same position. In 1855 he was appointed express, freight, ticket, and station agent at Laury’s by the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, and held the position until his death.

In 1870 Mr. Laury was elected president of the North Whitehall Loan and Building Association, which he carried successfully through in less than nine years. In the year 1838 he and Robert McDowell established a Sunday-school, known as the Slate-Quarry Sunday-school. It was at first
exclusively English, though the exercises were later conducted in English and German. It was the first Sunday-school projected in Lehigh County outside of Allentown, and Mr. Laury maintained his love for the cause to the end of his days, having at the time of his death been the superintendent of the St. John’s Sunday-school near his own home. In the year 1844 he was foremost in having the common-school system adopted by his township, and aided in overcoming a strong and violent opposition to it. He was elected one of the directors of the first school board chosen, and being made its treasurer, he retained the position for six years successively. In 1872, he was made one of the building committee of St. John’s church, and gave much valuable assistance to the furtherance and completion of the project. He also manifested great interest in the projection of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He was called to discharge many responsible trusts, and every one proved faithful to
the letter. His career was interesting and extended. Perhaps no citizen of the county had more influence in public affairs during his life than he. In the Democratic party of the county he was when in his best years a power, - his reputation, sagacity, intelligence, and force of character giving him an influence that did much to shape its character and policy. He possessed enormous energy, and wonderful activity. He was a man of decided convictions and of great courage. He did not believe in concealing his convictions for policy’s sake. He never hesitated between two opinions. His personal welfare was never for a moment taken into consideration. That a thing was right was enough to commend it to his hearty support. That a certain policy was wrong was sufficient to
command his instant and unrelenting opposition. While in the Legislature he stood pre-eminent among the public men of this State for the peculiar straightforwardness of his views, for the tenacity with which he stood by them after having arrived at a conclusion, and for his unswerving fidelity to the doctrines of the Democratic party. A man well informed on public matters, he was notable for his interest in debate, and for the unmistakable directness of his arguments. He was characterized by quick perception, an excellent memory for facts, and an unusual correctness of judgment. He lived emphatically a blameless life, whether as a private citizen or as a public official. His religious convictions were as strong as his political convictions. He felt a deep interest in the welfare of his church, and was ever ready to give his time and means for its advancement. He was a man of genial, sociable disposition, formed strong attachments toward his friends and neighbors, and possessed those estimable qualities which endeared him to all classes. He was wonderfully liberal in his gifts to every deserving cause, but for doubtful objects he had nothing. He loved truth and manliness. He hated falsehood, humbug, and cowardice. He was not a man to regard with complacency anything which savored of evil. Dubious or immoral projects were always sure of his unrelenting hostility. But those movements which had for their object the advancement of religion and the benefit of humanity could always count upon his substantial aid.


The death of Mrs. Laury occurred March 12, 1878. From this great loss Mr. Laury never fully recovered. His death followed that of his wife on the 28th of September, 1883, in his seventy-ninth year.














The History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,


Alfred Mathews & Austin N. Hungerford

Published in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1884


Transcribed from the original during winter 2006


Shirley Kuntz



Proofing and web page by

Jack Sterling

May 2006