Lewis B. Gunckle was born on October 15, 1826 in Germantown, Ohio which was founded by his grandfather, Phillip Gunckel in 1804. He graduated from Cincinnati Law School in 1851 and won the first case he tried.
Gunckle was Hiram Strong’s senior partner in the law firm of Gunckel & Strong. He developed a reputation as one of the most successful jury lawyers in southern Ohio and as a peacemaker who used his influence to settle controversies.
He was elected to the Ohio Senate and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. He was a member of the reception committee when Abraham Lincoln came to Dayton in September 1859.
In the Ohio Senate, Gunckle was the author of the soldiers’ voting law, of measures to send medical aid and supplies to the battlefields, and of bills to provide care for the widows and children of those killed in service of the Union.
In the middle of the Civil War he introduced a bill for the establishment of a state soldiers’ home and this became his pet project. He canvassed the state as a presidential elector for Lincoln in 1864, and in that same year Governor John Brough established a state soldiers’ home near Columbus with Gunckel as one of its trustees. The Honorable Lewis B. Gunckel was influential in the establishment of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers at Dayton. He picked the location and rallied the local citizens to get behind the move and donated $20,000 toward the land purchase. The first winter that the home was established, 750 soldiers were moved there. Gunckel would sit on the board for its first twelve years all without compensation. Today we know the home as the VA Medical Center.
In 1871 Gunckel was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as special commissioner to investigate frauds practiced upon the Cherokee, Creek and Chickasaw Indian tribes. His report was a milestone in the history of reforms in the Indian service.
He served in Congress as a representative from the 3rd district from 1872-1875 . Mr. Gunckel served on the Military Committee and even turned down a pay raise which he was entitled to under the law. He lost his bid for re-election and spent the rest of his life in the practice of law in Dayton.
The law firm of Gunckle & Strong became Gunckle & Rowe, his new partner being E.L. Rowe who had read law with him and became his partner in 1869. In 1890 the firm became Gunckle, Rowe & Shuey with the addition of Webster W. Shuey. The law firm had many name changes throughout the years and today the firm is known as Coolidge Wall.
In 1860 Gunckle married the daughter of Valentine Winters. When Winters and his son Jonathan founded Winters National Bank in 1882, Gunckle became of member of the bank’s first board of directors. He served for three years as the state bar’s delegate to the National Bar Association and served as its treasurer and a member of its executive committee.
Lewis B. Gunckel died on October 3, 1903 at the age of 77. He and his family are buried in Section 44 Lot 1008.