Member Biography

William McCandless 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1867       1 Democrat
1868       1 Democrat
1869       1 Democrat

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


09/19/1835 - 06/17/1884

Colonel William “Buck” McCandless (D1) Philadelphia (Part) County 1866-1870 

Early Life: 

Colonel William “Buck” McCandless, born September 19, 1835, County Donegal, Ireland; son of Irish immigrants who died while he was a boy; immigrated, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, five years old, 1840; reared, uncle, Philadelphia police officer, John McCandless; public schools education; apprenticed, machinist, Norris Locomotive Works; attorney, Philadelphia bar, 1858; Colonel, Civil War, 1861-1864; elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1866-1869; toured, studied, European warfare, 1870-1875; married, Annie McCandless, 1871; elected, first Secretary of Internal Affairs, 1875-1879; died, June 17, 1884 (aged 49), Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; interment, Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. 

Early Career:

May 27, 1861, enlisted, private, 2nd Pennsylvania Reserves, 31st Regiment, October 1861; promoted, Major, October 22, 1861; action during three-year enlistment, 2nd Manassas, Mechanicsville, Peninsula Campaign, South Mountain , Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse; promoted, Colonel, August 1, 1862, preceding 2nd Manassas; wounded, bullet through the groin during battle, August 30, 1862, recuperated six months, joined General Burnside, Antietam.  

Gettysburg, Colonel, commanded, General Samuel W. Crawford’s 1st Brigade, leading the right flank of the famous Plum Run counterattack that secured “Valley of Death”; recommended, promotion, Major General, he declined.   

Wilderness (Spotsylvania) Division commander led another heroic charge, this time suffering capture. Escaped, Spotsylvania Court House, wounded shrapnel, broke his left arm and rendered the limb partially disabled; declined another promotion, Brigadier General, May 13, 1864, returning to private life, referred to as “General” for the rest of his life.  

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1st district, Philadelphia (Part) County, 1866-1869; committee assignments, Compare Bills, Federal Relations, Military Affairs, Public Printing.  

Unsuccessful, State Auditor General, 1871. 

Elected, first Secretary of Internal Affairs, May 4, 1875-May 5, 1879; Secretary of Internal Affairs of Pennsylvania, constitutional officer, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1875-1968. Created, Pennsylvania Constitution, 1874, elected statewide every four years until 1966; position, repealed, May 16, 1967. Secretary's duties as follows: 

The Secretary of Internal Affairs shall exercise all of the powers and perform all the duties of the Surveyor General, subject to such changes as shall be made by law. His department shall embrace a bureau of industrial statistics, and he shall discharge such duties relating to corporations, to the charitable institutions, the agricultural, manufacturing, mining, mineral, timber and other material or business interests of the State as may be prescribed by law. He shall annually, and at such other times as may be required by law, make report to the General Assembly. 

Democratic state convention nominee, Governor of Pennsylvania. 

Unsuccessful campaign, Congress 1878. 


Obituary composed at time of his death by the New York Herald read, “As an officer he had won great distinction, and was a favorite with his companions in arms, who now deeply feel his departure”. 

Established by an act of the Pennsylvania Legislature, Mount Moriah Cemetery Association of Philadelphia, incorporated, March 27, 1855, (1857 (1855) P.L. 729, No.732).

Act of February 17, 1865 (1865 P.L.172, No.163), ceded at least some portion of the Mount Moriah Cemetery to the Federal Government.

Mount Moriah Cemetery closed its gates in April 2011 and had no owner when the last member of the board of directors died. The Orphans Court of Philadelphia granted the Mount Moriah Cemetery Preservation Corporation, a receivership in 2014.


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members M"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

Smull’s Legislative Handbook, (1868). Smull, J.A., (Editor) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pages 276, 280-282.

Scharf, John Thomas (1884). History of Philadelphia, 1609–1884. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co. p. 2360. Retrieved 23 August 2019. moriah.

History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884 : Scharf, J. Thomas (John Thomas), 1843-1898 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive 

History and notable burials Mount Moriah Cemetery (Philadelphia) - Wikipedia

William “Buck” McCandless | Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery

William “Buck” McCandless (1834-1884) - Find a Grave Memorial