HARNSBERGER, JOHN JACOB, a successful agriculturist and cattle raiser of Sangamon County, Ill., who is cultivating a fine property consisting of 360 acres, on Section 27, Cartwright Township, was born on the farm now owned by John H. Campbell on Section 26, in the same township, January 29, 1848, a son of Henry M. and Melinda (Harrison) Harnsberger.
Jacob Harnsberger, the grandfather of John Jacob, was a native of Rockingham County, Virginia, whence he went to Clark County, Ohio. He was born in 1781 and was married in his native county to Catherine Harnsberger, there being two children born to this union in Virginia and seven children in Ohio, where Mrs. Harnsberger and one child died. The eldest son went to Wisconsin, where he was married, had one child and died. Two sons and three daughters located in Indiana, but Mr. Harnsberger and three sons came to Cartwright Township, Sangamon County, August 25, 1839.
Henry M. Harnsberger was born in Clark County, Ohio, February 2, 1823, and was reared to manhood in Sangamon County, Ill., where he was married February 18, 1846, to Miss Melinda A. Harrison, who was born in Christian County, Kentucky, March 20, 1820, and came to Sangamon County with her parents, Reuben and Barbara Harnsberger 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 has been traced back through six generations to an Englishman who settled in the old Virginian Colony in the Shenandoah Valley. From the same ancestry came two Presidents, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. The signer of the Declaration of Independence was the father of Benjamin, William, Henry, George and Reuben Harrison. Reuben Harrison, the father of Mrs. Harnsberger, was born on a farm in Rockingham County, Va., June 12, 1779, and was married in May 16, 1804, to Parthenia Harrison, by whom he had one child. The wife died in Virginia, and Mr. Harrison married a second time, Barbara Harnsberger, November 29, 1810. In 1818 the family removed to Christian County, Ky., and on November 4, 1822, came to Sangamon County. Mr. Harrison's son, Leonard C., born of the first union, entered the University of the Methodist Church, at the age of eighteen, and died in Summerfield, Ala., in 1867, and it was while on a visit, at his son's home, that Reuben Harrison passed away, May 3, 1852. The second Mrs. Harrison died August 23, 1842.
There were four children born to Mr. and Mrs. henry M. Harnsberger, namely: John Jacob; George Leonard, born July 13, 1850, educated in the district schools, Lincoln University and the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, where he took a two years' course in civil engineering, was for one year Deputy County Surveyor, and now resides in Springfield, Ill.; Amanda C., the wife of Julius Hanback, a farmer near Centertown, Ark.; and Virginia, who married L. H. Washburn, of Springfield, has one child, Anna, who is the wife of Charles I. Himlich. The mother of the above children died May 8, 1905, and her husband followed her to the grave in September of the same year. Both were consistent and lifelong members of the Methodist Church, in which they labored faithfully, giving their time and means towards forwarding any church movements, whether formed by their own church or by one of another denomination. Kindly and generous almost to a fault, the extent of their charities will probably never be fully known, and it is but just to say that both did a world of good in the community in which they spent so many years.
John Jacob Harnsberger received his preliminary education in the district schools of Sangamon County, and for a time attended the North Sangamon Academy and the Jacksonville Business College. He then returned to the old home where he took up his duties on the farm, and continued to lie there until his marriage, February 10, 1870, to Miss Nancy C. Campbell, who was born in Cartwright Township, July 25, 1851, daughter of Robert and granddaughter of Maxwell Campbell. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Harnsberger began life on a farm adjoining this township in Menard County, Ill., but in 1874 removed to Sumner County, Kan., where Mr. Harnsberger had the misfortune to be persecuted by the grasshoppers which came in such swarms even that on clear days they hid the light of the sun. In 1884 mr. Harnsberger sold out his Kansas property and moved to Gentry County, Mo., and had been very successful there, when, on April 3, 1893, a cyclone struck that county stripping the farm of everything and demolishing the new house which had been erected by Mr. Harnsberger and which was just ready to paint. He sold this property in 1897 and moved to Brazoria, Tex., where he purchased 200 acres of land and had gotten a nice start and had the farm well stocked, but ill luck had not yet deserted him, for he was again cleaned out by the great storm which destroyed Galveston. Nothing daunted by this series of misfortunes, Mr. Harnsberger started all over again, selling his farm in Texas in 1903 and buying 100 acres of land in Wright County, Mo., but six months later, on account of the serious illness of his parents, he decided to return to his home in Cartwright Township, where he took charge of 280 acres of the old homestead, which had been divided, and also rented eighty acres, and since that time has cultivated 360 acres, having a fine producing farm, well stocked with valuable livestock.
Mr. and Mrs. Harnsberger have had four children: Carrie M., born May 28, 1871, wife of Howard Ellenwood, of Canby, Minn., whom she married March 4, 1904, and they have two children, Helen Clarinda, born in May, 1905, and Leonard H.; Katie Irene, born November 23, 1873, married George Harkrider, a farmer in Callaway County, Mo., and they have six children - Lawrence E., Clyde F., Cora E., Catherine, Charles L. and Julius; Leonard J., born March 10, 1878, in Sumner County, Kan., residing in Kansas City, Mo., married Mae Willhoit in 1902, and they have one child, Ernest Vivian, born January 15, 1904; and Helen G., born July 26, 1894, near Stanberry, Mo., living at home.
In religious belief the family adhere to the faith of the Methodist Church. Mr. Harnsberger has always been a Democrat and is now serving as Director of the Plunkett School. He has been active along agricultural lines, as well as in his conduct as a citizen, and is looked upon as one of the good representative men of Sangamon County.