Louis White Gunby
One of the strong men in the business circles of the Eastern Shore at the present time is Louis W. Gunby of Salisbury. Mr. Gunby was born at Forktown, Somerset County, Maryland, (now Wicomico), March 5, 1854; son of John K. and Charlotte (Somers) Gunby. His father combined the occupations of merchant and miller. He was a man of excellent education for those days; served in the General Assembly as a representative from Somerset County and on the Governor's staff from 1845 to 1854. The Gunby family has been identified with Maryland since 1660, coming from Yorkshire, England. The name is an illustrious one in the annals of Maryland, due to the Revolutionary record of Colonel John Gunby, who was commissioned colonel of the Seventh Maryland regiment on April 17, 1777. Later he was transferred to the command of the First Maryland Regiment and led that famous organization in Green's Southern Campaign. At the battle of Guilford Court House in 1781, the First Maryland commanded by Gunby, with John Eager Howard as his lieutenant-colonel, bore the brunt of the battle. Gunby's supports failed him at the critical moment, and Green's lines were thrown into disorder. The main body of the British Army was thrown against the First Maryland. Gunby and Howard with their command made as stubborn a stand as is recorded in history. Three times the British charged, and three times they were met by counter charge. A little battery of two guns over which they were contending was taken and retaken three times, and the gallant and stubborn stand of the First Maryland Regiment enabled Green to reform his lines and draw off his larger forces in good order after having inflicted upon Cornwallis a much larger loss than that sustained by his own army. General Henry Lee in his memoirs of the war, always conservative in his expression, accorded high praise to the First Maryland Regiment and its commanding officers for its splendid service on that critical day. From this John Gunby, Louis W. Gunby is descended in the direct line. The family was founded in Maryland by three brothers: James, John and William Gunby, who came from Yorkshire about 1660 and settled on the Eastern Shore; James in Salisbury; John and William in Forktown (now Fruitland). Each had large families. The children scattered after maturity to other sections, and their descendants are now found as far west as Missouri, and as far south as Georgia. The larger fraction of the heirs, however, remained on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In the maternal line, Mr. Gunby is descended from the famous Somers family, of which Captain George Somers was the founder. Captain George Somers was a famous navigator in the early days, and while returning to England after bringing a shipload of colonists to Virginia, was wrecked on the Bermuda Islands. On board his ship were a number of hogs which were saved, and from these hogs came the hog- raising industry of the Bermuda Islands, and the first money used on the Islands was called "hog money". For generations the Bermuda Islands was called the "Somers Islands" in honor of the old sea captain who became profoundly attached to them and spent the remainder of his life there. Because of his great work in colonizing the western lands, the English government requested of him the privilege of interring his body in t Westminster Abbey when he should die. The captain agreed on the condition that his heart should be buried in the Bermuda Islands, and this was done.
Mr. Gunby therefore is descended from two famous colonial families. He was a healthy boy, reared in the country, and his earliest tendencies were toward a professional life. His father died in his early youth, and the lad after obtaining a moderate degree of education in the Salisbury Academy, took up work in order to be of assistance to his widowed mother. He was but fourteen years old when he began as a clerk in hardware store conducted by John H. White. In 1872, while yet a minor, he bought Mr. White out and has conducted the hardware business from that time to the present. Mr. Gunby developed superior business capacity. Year by year he extended his borders and enlarged his operations, until now he conducts the largest wholesale and retail hardware business south of Wilmington, Delaware. He also has a large machinery and automobile department. The business was run in his own name until 1903, when it was incorporated as the L. W. Gunby Company, and four of his employees taken in as stock-holders. Outside his business, his operations have been equally successful, and he now ranks financially as one of the wealthiest men of the Eastern Shore. He is president of the L. W. Gunby Company; president of the Salisbury Permanent Building, Loan and Banking Association, of which he has been a director since its organization in 1884; a director in the Farmers and Merchants Bank; the Salisbury Realty Company, and owner of the Poco-Wico Manufacturing Company, large manufacturers of crates and baskets for the fruit and trucking trade. He is also part owner of the Schooner Salisbury which sails out of Baltimore. Mr. Gunby is an active member of the Presbyterian Church, in which he is an elder, and for which he has been Sunday school superintendent during twenty years.
On September 18, 1876, Mr. Gunby was married to Fannie Alice Graham, daughter of Colonel Samuel A. Graham of Wicomico County. Nine children have been born of this marriage: Graham; Alice Somers; Louise Collier; Louis W.; Frances M.; Ruth Lyon; Louis W. (II); John Kirk and James Young Gunby. Of these, six are living.
The Gunby blood has lost nothing in martial ardor since the days of the old Revolutionary soldier. Mr. Gunby had two brothers and a sister, the brothers being John W. and Frank M., and the sister, Clara L. They were ardent sympathizers with the South during the late war. The sister was so pronounced in her Southern sympathies, that he was banished to the South, and went to Richmond, where she was received by PResident Davis and extended a great many courtesies by the leading citizens of the Confederate capital. The two brothers enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 and served until the close of the war.
The Gunby coat of arms is a blue lion rampant on a silver shield.
February 1997, Web Page Author George E. Richardson,III