Amos Ellmaker was born in Leacock Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of Nathaniel Ignatious and Elizabeth (Fellenbaum) Ellmaker. He studied law at Princeton College in New Jersey. He attended Litchfield Law School, and continued his legal studies under the tutelage of James Hopkins, the same Lancaster attorney who trained James Buchanan. Ellmaker completed his studies in the Harrisburg office of Thomas Elder, whose daughter he later married.
In 1808, Ellmaker was admitted to the bar, and began practicing law in Harrisburg.
On Jan. 13, 1809, at age 21, Ellmaker was appointed deputy attorney general for Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.
He volunteered for the militia during the War of 1812 and served in 1814 as aide-de-camp to Brigadier General John Forster during the Chesapeake Campaign. While in this position, he was elected to the Fourteenth Congress from the congressional district consisting of Lancaster, Dauphin, and Lebanon Counties, but never filled that office. On July 3, 1815 Ellmaker was appointed Judge of the Twelfth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, composed of Dauphin, Lebanon, and Schuylkill Counties.
Ellmaker resigned from the bench in December 1816 to accept Governor Simon Snyder's appointment as Pennsylvania Attorney General. Governor William Findlay re-appointed him in 1818, and Ellmaker served until December 1819.
In 1817 Ellmaker declined an offer from James Monroe to serve as Secretary of War. During his career, he also twice turned down offers of appointment as Secretary of the Commonwealth, and twice as justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
In 1821 Ellmaker moved from Harrisburg to Lancaster, where he continued to practice law.
Pennsylvania Railroad Company
In 1823 Ellmaker was an original incorporator of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. In 1826 he was an original incorporator of the Columbia, Lancaster and Philadelphia Railroad, as was James Buchanan.
In May 1828 Ellmaker returned to the office of state Attorney General, and served until August 1829.
1832 Presidential Campaign
In 1832, Ellmaker was the candidate for Vice President on the Anti-Masonic ticket, with William Wirt as the candidate for President. Wirt and Ellmaker won in Vermont, and received seven electoral votes.
In 1838, the Lancaster Female Seminary was incorporated, with Ellmaker as one of the original 10 trustees.
In 1816 Ellmaker married Mary Rachael Elder (born 31 December 1799 at Harrisburg, PA; died 15 March 1866), the daughter of Thomas Elder. They had two sons, Nathaniel (born 28 April 1817 at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) and Levi (born 1828, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania).
Death and burial
Ellmaker died in Lancaster on November 28, 1851. He was buried in the churchyard of St. James' Episcopal Church in Lancaster.
- Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949 (1950).
- Egle, William Henry Pennsylvania Genealogies: Chiefly Scots-Irish and German (1896).
- Ellis, Franklin History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (1883)
Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans (1904).
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