My Contribution: I was a prominent political figure in the Eighth Ward and was elected second district supervisor of Republican party in 1872. I was a respected founding member of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 896, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. I was an active participant in community events around equality in the Eighth Ward, including the Fifteenth Amendment Celebration.
My Legacy: I cared deeply about the education of Black children and joined the Harrisburg School Board to help create better educational opportunities in Harrisburg’s Eighth Ward. A memorial commemorating me and my wife (Mary A. Gaitor) is located in Lincoln Cemetery. My advocacy for high-quality, equitable education remains relevant in Harrisburg today.
About Me: “John Gaitor, one of the original five founders [of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 896, G.U.O. of O.F.] …spoke of the great benefits which had been secured, and the progress which had been made, and gave great encouragement to press on in the good work.” — Harrisburg Telegraph, December 7, 1872.
“John Gaitor is one of the most intelligent and worthy colored men of the city. He is honest, capable and intelligent, and will make a good supervisor.” — Harrisburg Telegraph, February 14, 1876.
Full Name: John Gaitor • Birth Date: September 7, 1820 • Death Date: March 30, 1901 • Place of Birth: Virginia • Sex: Male • Race: “Mulatto” (1850 and 1860 Federal Censuses) and Black (1880 and 1900 Federal Censuses) • Places of Residence: Harris- burg, Pennsylvania: James and Elder Streets (1869), 435 State (1894), and 414 South Street (1897-1900). • Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Resident; worked and ran for political office in the Eighth Ward. • Family Members: Father: John Gaitor. Mother: Mrs. Amelia Gaitor. Siblings: Mrs. Sarah Wallace, Mrs. Tamson Fitzgerald, Mrs. Mary Jones, Mrs. Jane Snyder, and Mark Gaitor. Wife: Mary Anna Gaitor (d. January 27, 1900). Children: Richard Gaitor, Joseph Gaitor, Idella Gaitor, and Loretta Viola Gaitor. • Education: Could read and write according to federal censuses. • Occupations: Waiter. Confectioner. Fruit Vendor. Caterer. • Church Membership: Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church • Activism: served in numerous organizations: Wesley Union A.M.E. Republicans (vice president), Brotherly Love Lodge No. 896, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows (original founding member), Harrisburg School Board (vice president and chairman), and Union Republican Central Club (member); elect- ed Republican Supervisor of Second District. • Connections: Joseph B. Popel (A.M.E. Republican Committee), John Q. Adams and Cassius Brown (Brotherly Love Lodge No. 896), George Galbraith and George H. Imes (fellow Republican candidates), James H. W. Howard (School Board), and William Howard Day. A.R.