Norman  Hurd  Strong

          For more than forty years the name of Strong has been familiar in the business world of Shelbyville.  During that time there have been changes in the business, the death of partners and going of clerks, but the head of the line of hardware still remains, conducting business at the grand old stand.  It is a story of earnest work, business sagacity, integrity of character and enterprise in the various pursuits of life that is well worth recalling.  The family originated in Connecticut with Walter Strong, who moved west at an early day and located in Ohio; there his son, Samuel, was born, and in later life removed to Northern Indiana, which was the scene of operations during his productive period.  He married Harriett B. Stillman, a native of Indiana, by whom he had six children, of whom three are living.  Charles is a Justice of the Peace in Elkhart county.  Walter is a furnishing goods merchant in Chicago.
          Norman H. Strong, the eldest of the children, was born in Elkhart county, Indiana, August 31, 1845.  He attended Wabash College for a while, and came to Shelbyville in 1869, shortly afterward engaging in the hardware business in partnership with his two brothers-in-law.  By the death of Thomas K. Wilson, the firm became known as that of Gorgas & Strong, under which name it stood for many years, as the leader in its line at Shelbyville.  Albert J. Gorgas, the senior partner, was one of the genial and popular men in the county.  Everybody liked him and his name was a talisman in drawing business to the store, which was long a landmark on the southeast side of the public square.  Albert J. Gorgas was elected Clerk of the county in 1882, on the Republican ticket, by a majority of over four hundred, which was decidedly revolutionary as up to that time Shelby county had not been in the habit of electing Republicans to office.  After his untimely death in 1888, Mr. Strong conducted the business alone for a few years, but in 1890 took his son, Frank, as a partner.  In one respect Mr. Strong may be considered a pioneer, as he is the only businessman in the city who has occupied the same room, No. 44 public square, since 1870.  The building is of two stories and a basement with a large warehouse in the rear, and the firm handles all kinds of heavy hardware.
          May 21, 1868, Mr. Strong married Emma A., daughter of Solomon A. and Mary (Vier) Gorgas, the latter a native of France, who came to Ohio when twelve years old.  Mr. Gorgas was a pioneer hardware merchant in Shelbyville and a man of the highest rank in all the walks of life.  Mr. and Mrs. Strong became the parents of two children:  Frank G., now his father's partner, married Emma Schroeder, of Shelbyville; Ursule, the only daughter, married Rev. B. M. Nyce, pastor of the First Presbyterian church in Muncie, Indiana and has two sons.  During the Civil war Mr. Strong enlisted in Company I, Forty-fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, under Capt. Albert Heath, and Col. Hugh B. Reed.  He enlisted when sixteen years old and was discharged for sickness.
          He is a member of the Dumont Post, No. 18, Grand Army of the Republic, and also belongs to the Masons, having taken degrees in the lodge, chapter, council and Baldwin Commandery, Knights Templar.  He is a director of the Union Building and Loan Association, and was its first treasurer.   At one time he served as a member of the City Council from the Second ward, though his tastes have never run in the direction of politics.  The family are members of the Presbyterian church.
Chadwick's History of Shelby County, Indiana, by Edward H. Chadwick, B.A., assisted by well known local talent, B.F. Bowen & Co, Publishers: Indianapolis, IN, 1909.
Submitted by Jane Fullington
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            Norman H. Strong, dealer in hardware, is a native of Elkhart County, Ind., and son of  Samuel S. and  Ann Harriet B. (Stillman) Strong, parents both natives of Ohio, the father born 1819, and the mother about the year 1821.  Norman H. is the third of a family of seven children, three of whom are at this time living.  He was born on the 31st day of August, 1845, received a rudimentary education in the common schools and subsequently entered Wabash College where he made substantial progress in the higher branches of learning.  In 1862, when but little more than seventeen years of age, he tendered his services to the Government to do battle in defense of its rights, enlisting in Company I, Forty-fourth Indiana Infantry, for the three years service.  He remained with his command for only eighteen months, having been discharged at the end of that time on account of sickness.  During the years 1866-7 [?], he carried on the dry goods business in Elkhart, and the following year came to Shelbyville, of which city he has since been an honored resident.  In 1870, he became a member of the hardware firm of  Gorgas, Strong & Wilson, which continued until 1871, when the style of the firm became Gorgas & Strong.  On the death of his partner in 1886, Mr. Strong succeeded to the control of the business, purchasing the entire stock a little later, being at this time sole proprietor.  He carries a complete line of all kinds of hardware demanded by the general trade, and in business circles enjoys more than a local reputation.  Politically he is an ardent supporter of the Republican party, and cast his first presidential vote for  Gen. U. S. Grant.  May 21, 1868, he was married to  Miss Emma Gorgas,  daughter of  Solomon and Mary F. Gorgas.  Mrs. Strong was born in Stark County, Ohio, June 11, 1844, and is the mother of two children,  Frank G.,  born November 17, 1869, and  Ursula V.,  born January 11, 1872.  Mr. Strong was made a Mason in 1872, since which time he has risen high in the order, having taken a number of degrees including that of Sir Knight, belonging to Baldwin Commandery No. 2.
History of Shelby County, Indiana, Brant & Fuller, pages 538, "Shelbyville Sketches".
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming

Strong  Hardware

Strong  Residence

Photos from  Boetcker's  Picturesque Shelbyville,  1909

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