Senator Joseph R. Gorrell View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 5/25/1916
Birth Place: Warren, OH
Birth Country: USA
Party Affiliation:
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 25 (1894) - 28 (1900)
Home County: Jasper
Joseph R. Gorrell
Jasper County

MR. PRESIDENT — Your committee appointed to prepare resolutions commemorating the life, character and public services of Hon. Joseph R. Gorrell, beg leave to submit the following report:


Doctor Gorrell was the descendant of a fine old family of the Buckeye state, having been born near Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio, May 6, 1835, being the fifth of a family of ten children born to Joseph and Esther (Glass) Gorrell. Little definite information can be gleaned with reference to the origin and early history of the family, but the ancestry has been traced to continental Europe.

Doctor Gorrell passed his boyhood upon his father's farm, where he laid the foundation for a sturdy manhood by working in the fields during the crop seasons. When seventeen years of age he entered an academy for one year, then spent three years in a Presbyterian college at Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where he mastered the ancient classics and gained a thorough scientific education. He began reading medicine with Dr. J. R. McCleary, at Bluffton, Indiana, and later he took a course of lectures in the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, later entering the University of Buffalo, from which he was graduated in February, 1859. He had made a very creditable record at all these institutions and, thus well equipped, he opened an office at Newville, DeKalb county, Indiana, in August, 1859, and there he remained until the fall of 1863, enjoying a very satisfactory patronage. Then his patriotic impulses led him to offer his services to this country during the dark days of the great rebellion, entering the service as a surgeon of the One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, continuing in that capacity until the close of the war, performing his duties in such a manner as to reflect credit upon himself, to win the high esteem of his comrades and the hearty commendation of his superior officers. Seeking a new field for his operations, Doctor Gorrell came to Newton, Iowa, at the close of the war, where he resided until his death, May 25, 1916.

He enjoyed an ever-growing and lucrative practice and took rank with the leading physicians and surgeons of the state, always keeping fully abreast of the times in all matters pertaining to his profession. Being an assiduous student and an independent and vigorous thinker as well as a keen observer and a tireless investigator, he became one of the noted men in the medical profession of his day and generation.

Doctor Gorrell was married in 1860, while living at Newville, Indiana, to Frances E. Hendricks, of DeKalb county, that state, who survives him. She is the daughter of Dr. Joel E. Hendricks, a prominent physician of his day in that county during the time of his practice. Mrs. Gorrell is a lady of splendid attributes of mind and heart and has enjoyed a host of warm friends all her life. This union was blessed by the birth of two children: Carrie, born January 10, 1862, and is the wife of J. W. Hunter; Arthur R., who died October 23, 1911, was born in 1867, and graduated from the Iowa State University and the Northwestern University of Chicago.

Doctor Gorrell has ever acted upon the principles that he who serves his country serves his party best, and with this object in view his political efforts, although in the highest degree successful and influential, have been above the slightest suspicion of dishonor, and his career as a public servant has been eminently satisfactory to all concerned, irrespective of party alignment. Politically, Doctor Gorrell was an adherent of principle to the defiance of party demands and party affiliations. He was elected to the State Senate in 1893 on the Republican ticket and he was elected to this important office in 1897 on the Democratic ticket. Such a record is evidently criterion enough of his high standing in this district. He made a most worthy and commendable record, making his influence felt for the good of his county, and the state, and figuring prominently in the councils and debates among his colleagues, where his ideas were respectfully weighed and usually heartily endorsed.

Being of literary and philosophical turn of mind, his office and dwelling may be said with truth to have been the intellectual center of Jasper county, bringing together more of the thinkers of the locality than any other place or places. Here questions of science, philosophy and religion were discussed honestly and fearlessly and, above all, intelligently. Doctor Gorrell was himself a writer of force and great versatility, articles from his trenchant pen being copied far and near, and he has contributed to literature a small volume entitled, “Sins Absolved,” embodying his views on religion, interwoven with the thrilling story of the war in which he was an active participant. He was not a believer in the creed or doctrines of orthodox churches, but he was a liberal supporter of the gospel.

Suffcient has been said to indicate Doctor Gorrell’s character and high standing in the community and state where he so long resided, and it only remains to be said that throughout his entire professional and official career, he was animated by lofty motives, and made every personal consideration subordinate to the higher claims of duty. Broad and liberal in his views, with the greatest good of his fellowmen ever before him, his conduct was that of the lover of his kind and the true and loyal citizen, who is ready at all times to make reasonable sacrifice for the cause in which his interests were enlisted. He was, withal, a man of the people, proud of his distinction as a citizen of the state and nation for whose laws and institutions he had the most profound admiration and respect, while his strong mentality, ripe judgment and unimpeachable integrity demonstrated to the satisfaction of all, his ability to fill honorably, important official positions and to discharge worthily the duties of his trusts. In point of critical scholarship, keen intellectuality and professional success, he easily stood in the front rank, while in all that constitutes the upright man, the public-spirited citizen and the polished gentleman, his position in the social circle and the world of affairs has been firmly established and he stands today among the leaders of thought and moulders of opinion in a state prolific of great men.

Resolved, That the Senate of Iowa is deeply appreciative of the loss the state and community in which he lived has sustained in the loss of this honored and respected citizen who contributed so much to the nation and his adopted state.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be spread upon the Journal of the Senate and an engrossed copy be transmitted to the family of the deceased.