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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  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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ALAN W. CORSON was born in Norristown, August 23, 1847, and has always resided in that borough. He attended the public schools, being graduated from the Norristown high school in the first graduating class of that institution in 1863. He stood first in the class of seven. He entered the University of Pennsylvania and completed a scientific course in 1866. He returned to his home in Norristown and entered his father’s office. Since that time he has been engaged as a surveyor and civil engineer. He built the East and West Airy street bridges in Norristown, and at least forty bridges on highways in various portions of Montgomery county during the years 1887 to 1900. He has been county surveyor and borough surveyor for Norristown, Choshohocken and Bridgeport for many years. In 1871 he was elected justice of the peace in the fourth ward of Norristown, and has held the position ever since. He was clerk of the town council for a number of years.

In politics Mr. Corson is an active Republican, and has served as delegate many times in county and state conventions. He married, October 9, 1869, Mrs. Delia Maguire, daughter of Thomas Maguire. She was born in Norristown, November 16, 1848. Her mother is of French extraction. Her father came from Ireland in boyhood. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Corson: Mary, born January 14, 1872, married William J. Mulholland, of Albany, New York, purchasing agent for the American Railway Company; they have one child, Ava Corson, born November 30, 1902. Burnside, born October 22, 1874, unmarried and resides in Philadelphia, where he is employed at Cramp’s ship yards. Norman Butler, born January 28, 1879, married and resides in Philadelphia, where he is a machinist in the elevator works.

Laurence Egbert Corson (father) was born in Whitemarsh township, April 26, 1819. He was born and reared on the Corson homestead, attending the school of his father, Alan W. Corson (grandfather), which was in existence from about 1810 to 1836. At the age of seventeen years, Laurence E. Corson went to Quakertown, and taught the Friends’ school there which had an attendance of two hundred pupils, ten of whom were over thirty years of age, and four over forty years of age. His father’s reputation as a teacher had much to do with the large attendance. In the spring of 1839 Laurence E. Corson removed to Norristown and began the study of law, but was, however, never admitted to the bar. He found the business of surveying profitable, and also very congenial to his tastes. Besides, his father was strongly opposed to his becoming a lawyer. In 1840 he opened a surveyor’s office in Norristown and was employed in that business continuously until his death, which occurred on May 8, 1872. His father also followed the business of surveying for more than thirty years previous to that time, and when Laurence E. engaged in the same occupation, the father handed over to the son his business, partly as an inducement to keep him from going on with the study of the law.

Laurence E. Corson was for many years the leading surveyor of Montgomery county. In 1849 he laid out Pottstown, the following year Conshohocken, and the next year Bridgeport. His father had in his time laid out all the additions to the borough of Norristown. In 1855 Laurence E. Corson was elected justice of the peace on the Independent ticket, defeating the Whig and Democratic candidates by more majority than both had votes. He held the office fifteen years, being re-elected twice. The last two elections he had no opposition. In 1853 he was elected by the county commissioners to lay out the new court house. This he did in such a manner as to cause John C. Trautwein, then considered the greatest civil engineer living, to say that he did not believe there was another surveyor in Pennsylvania who could have done the work so well or so correctly, notwithstanding the fact that he broke his instrument at the outset, so that he had only the use of his tape to do the work with. The most wonderful part of it was that not a mistake was made.

In 1828 Laurence E. Corson’s father superintended the building of the DeKalb street bridge, Norristown. In 1862 Laurence E. Corson tore it down and rebuilt it as it now stands. He also superintended the erection of the Swede’s Ford bridge in 1851, and repaired it in 1869, putting in a third arch to make it strong enough to carry a locomotive. In 1869 he rebuilt all the bridges in Norristown which were washed away by the great waterspout of July 20, of that year. He was afterwards chairman of the Republican county committee, and alternate delegate to the national convention which nominated General John Charles Fremont for president. In 1860 he represented the congressional district in the national Republican convention at Chicago, going there a strong Seward man, and returning an enthusiastic supporter of the immortal Lincoln, whom he had assisted in nominating.

Laurence E. Corson married, December 25, 1845, Mary Ann, daughter of Dr. Benjamin and Sarah (Jones) Johnson. She was born October 5, 1824, at Sumneytown, in Montgomery county. Their children: Alan W., born August 23, 1847; Sarah, born October 12, 1849; married Robert R. Garsed, who is now deceased; Mary, died in infancy; Leigh Hunt, died in infancy; Norman Benjamin, born February 16, 1859; Louis Linn, died in infancy.

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This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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