William Gisrial was the epitome of a self-made man. Born to an immigrant baker and leaving school at age 12, he made himself into one of Baltimore's leading citizens.
Gisrial was born on 29 March 1833. He was apprenticed at age 12, to Henry Shane's brass foundry. Later, he found work at Cavis & Watt's foundry and was placed in charge of the department where all the appliances for the Bell telephone were first manufactured. When that company went out of business, Gisrial bought it and made it a success. As he became a business leader, he was made president of the Maryland brass metal Works and of the Winks Railroad Safety Appliance Company; he joined the board of directors of the First National Bank in New Freedom, Pennsylvania. He helped younger men start several businesses in Baltimore. He was a member of the City Club and of the Merchants and Manufacturers Association.
Besides his business activities, Gisrial was a trustee of Asbury College and of Taylor University, also a trustee of the Pennington School for Boys, Pennington, New Jersey. He was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church and was instrumental in bringing religious conferences to Baltimore. He was a leading Mason.
Gisrial, at first, was a Democrat in politics, but on account of the Tariff and the Liquor Question changed to Independent with Prohibition proclivities. He was nominated by prohibitionists for city council, for mayor, for the orphans court, for the legislature, for Congress, and for governor of Maryland.
His native city is proud of M. Gisrial, not only as a fine type of progressive businessman, but as one who has caused his prosperity to minister to the welfare of the less fortunate, who has been actuated by a spirit of true benevolence, and who has, in all things, ever shown himself to be "one who loves his fellow men."
-- Anon (1912) -- Baltimore, It's History and It's People:
NYC, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, pp. 604-606.
Located by Adam Seaman.