Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

HON. GEORGE L. HARNSBERGER - Hon. George L. Harnsberger was born in Cartwright township, Sangamon county, July 13, 1851, and back to an early epoch in the history of Virginian colony can his ancestry be traced. His paternal grandparents were Jacob and Catherine Harnsberger. The former was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, in 1781, and removed to Clark county, Ohio, where he was married, and where seven of his children were born. He afterward went to Clinton county, Indiana, where his wife and one child died. With three of his sons he afterward came to Sangamon county, Illinois, arriving August 29, 1839. His children were: Wesley, who lived to be about one hundred years old and died in Nebraska; Mary A., who was married in Indiana and died there; Philip, who died in the same state; Mrs. Jane Edwards, who lives near Frankfort, in Clinton county, Indiana; Mrs. Catherine Blystone, who died in Indiana; henry M., the father of our subject; George G., who was born in 1825, wedded Mary Scott and died in Macon county, Illinois; and Jacob S., who was born in 1829, married Sarah Starr, and died in Alabama. In the older generations of the family in Virginia were a number of physicians and lawyers, but in later years all became agriculturists. Henry M. and George G. Harnsberger made their home with Reuben Harrison in this county and were here educated, and Jacob S. also came to this county. Jacob Harnsberger, Sr., the grandfather of our subject, died in September, 1847, in Montgomery county, Alabama, whither he had gone to visit his son.

Henry M. Harnsberger, the father of our subject, was born in Clark county, Ohio, February 2, 1823, and was reared to manhood in Sangamon county. On the 18th of February, 1846, he married Miss Melinda A. Harrison, who was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, March 20, 1820, and came to Sangamon county with her parents, Reuben and Barbara Harrison. Her great-grandfather, Benjamin Harrison, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The family is of English lineage and the ancestry can be traced back through six generations to an Englishman who settled in the old Virginian colony in the Shenandoah valley. From the same ancestry comes the two presidents, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. The Benjamin Harrison who signed the Declaration was the father of Benjamin, William, Henry, George and Reuben Harrison.

Ezekiel Harrison, the grandfather of Mrs. Melinda Harnsberger, was born October 6, 1752, in Rockingham county, Virginia, and married Sarah Bryan, who was born in the same county, July 31, 1753. Their marriage occurred in 1775 and in 1816 they emigrated to Christian county, Kentucky. Nine children have been born unto them in the Old Dominion. On the 4th of November, 1822, with his wife, three sons and a daughter, Ezekiel Harrison came to Sangamon county, Illinois, settling in what is now Cartwright Township. Of his children Jesse, born May 24, 1777, married Rachel Harrison and came to this county, where he remained for two years and then went to Missouri. He died in Audrain county, that state, December 31, 1872. Reuben Harrison, the father of Mrs. Harnsberger, was the second of his father's family. Ezekiel B., the third, was born in 1786, married Ann Bell, and died in 1851. Lucinda B., born in 1792, became the wife of Rev. T. Sweet, and died in 1873. The father, Ezekiel Harrison, Sr., passed away in 1835, his wife in 1845.

Reuben Harrison, the father of Mrs. Harnsberger, was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, June 12, 1779, and was married in 1804 to Parthenia Harrison, by whom he had one child. The mother died in Virginia and he afterward married Barbara A. Harnsberger, November 29, 1810. In 1818 he removed to Christian county, Kentucky, and on the 4th of November, 1822, came with his father to Sangamon county. His son Leonard C., born of the first marriage, entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church at the age of eighteen years, and died in Summerfield, Alabama, in 1867. The oldest child of the second marriage was George M. Harrison, who was born in 1813, studied medicine with Dr. Jacob M. Early, and was graduated in the Rush Medical College in 1840. He was the second graduate of any medical college from Sangamon county. He practiced on Richland creek and met an accidental death by being thrown from his horse, September 1, 1873. In 1840, in Virginia, he married Maria B. C. J. Houston, and they had three children. She died in 1845 and in 1847 the Doctor married Mary A. Megredy, by whom he had nine children. John H. Harrison, born April 6, 1815, was married in 1843 to Sarah A. Conover and had eight children. He resided on the farm where his grandfather Harrison settled in 1822 and was an active agriculturist, but is now living retired. Sarah U., born December 20, 1817, was married in 1849 to Daniel Megredy and died in July of that year. Melinda A. is the fourth of the family and the mother of our subject. Mrs. Reuben Harrison passed away August 23, 1842, and Mr. Harrison died at Summerfield, Alabama, May 3, 1852.

After the marriage of Henry M. Harnsberger and Melinda Harrison - about 1854 - he purchased eighty acres of land and this was the nucleus of his later extensive possessions. He kept adding to his farm from time to time, has cultivated and improved it and now has a very valuable property. He began life a poor boy but by hard work and perseverance he has steadily progressed and now has over four hundred acres of fine land. For many years he was extensively engaged in raising, feeding and shipping stock, and he has led an active and useful life. In politics he is a Democrat and has held several local offices. A member of the Methodist Episcopal church, he has been one of its liberal contributors and has served on its official board. Unto him and his wife were born four children. Jacob J., the eldest, was educated in the Springfield Business College, was married in this county to Catherine Campbell, and is now living in Pearland, Texas. George L. is the second of the family. Amanda C. is the wife of Julius Hanback and they reside on the old homestead, caring for her parents. Virginia is the wife of L. H. Washburn, of Springfield, and has one daughter. Mrs. Hanback and Mrs. Washburn are graduates of the Woman's College, of Jacksonville, Illinois.

George L. Harnsberger, whose name heads this article was reared on his father's farm and attended the district schools, after which he spent a year in college at Jacksonville and was graduated in Lincoln University in 1874. He then entered the State University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, and was graduated in the law department in 1876. Returning to Sangamon county he then resumed work on the home farm, where he remained until 1892, when he came to Springfield. He formed a partnership with his father and they did an extensive business in raising and shipping stock, making large sales annually. Going to southern Illinois our subject would there purchase stock which he would then transport to the home farm, where he would feed them preparatory to shipment to the city markets. While in Lincoln University Mr. Harnsberger pursued the study of civil engineering, which he completed at Ann Arbor, and at intervals he has followed that calling, doing land surveying in this county and occasionally outside its borders. He owns a farm in Williams township of one hundred and sixty acres and eighty acres in Cartwright township, a part of which was included in the old home place, and he also has land in Kansas. His attention is now given to the supervision of his property interests, which yield to him an excellent financial return.

In 1890, in Menard county, Illinois, near Petersburg, mr. Harnsberger married Miss Adeline Houghton, a daughter of A. R. and Alvira Houghton, who were farming people of that county and both died there. Their children were: William, who is living on the home farm in Menard county and Mrs. Harnsberger.

Politically Mr. Harnsberger is an earnest and prominent Democrat. For twelve years he served on the board of supervisors and was twice its chairman. For some years he was a member of the Democratic county central committee, is now filling that position and has several times been a delegate to the state conventions of his party. On its ticket he was elected and served as a member of the fortieth general assembly of Illinois. Mr. Harnsberger is a supporter of church work and liberal in his charitable donations. He belongs to Percival Lodge, K. P., of which he is a past chancellor, and is a member of Diana Temple, No. 99, D. O. K. K. He has led an active and busy life and to some extent he yet follows civil engineering and deals in real estate. He has erected two houses in Springfield and has handled other property. Prosperous in his labors, he merits his financial advancement because of his capable management and untiring effort in former years. In the county where his entire life has been passed he is widely known and popular with a large circle of friends, who are familiar with his history and know him to be a man of intrinsic worth.

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