William J. Purman
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Born in Millheim, Centre County, Pennsylvania and attended the common schools before completing his studies at Aaronsburg Academy in Centre County, Pennsylvania. He taught school; studied law at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania; and during the American Civil War entered the Union Army as a private and served on special duty at the War Department until transferred to Florida in 1865. He was admitted to the bar in 1868 and commenced practice in Tallahassee, Florida. He was a member of the State constitutional convention in 1868. Purman narrowly escaped an assassin's bullet in 1869 which left his brother-in-law, a former surgeon in the Confederate Army, dead.
Purman served in the Florida State Senate from 1869-1872. He was appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State senate as secretary of state in 1869 but declined the position. He was chairman of the Florida Commission in 1869 for entering into negotiations for transfer of West Florida to the State of Alabama, a transfer that was not ratified by Alabama. He was assessor of United States internal revenue for the district of Florida 1870–1872; chairman of the Republican State committee 1870–1872; member of the Republican National Committee 1876–1880; elected as a Republican to the Forty-third United States Congress and served from March 4, 1873, to January 25, 1875, when he resigned; member of the Florida House of Representatives for one session and resigned when elected to Congress; elected to the Forty-fourth United States Congress (March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1877); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1876 to the Forty-fifth United States Congress; returned in 1878 to Millheim, Pa., and engaged in agricultural pursuits; moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1883; moved to Washington, D.C., where he lived in retirement until his death; the remains were cremated and the ashes deposited in a vault at Glenwood Cemetery.
- United States Congress. "William J. Purman (id: P000572)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.