Biography of Harry R. Harshbarger

Harry R. Harshbarger of Sedan had found varied employment for his energies since he reached manhood, but is now chiefly engaged in the business of oil production, and had some of the most valuable properties of that kind in Chautauqua County.

He was born at Vermilion, Edgar County, Illinois, May 28, 1868. His father was John W. Harshbarger, long and favorably known in Kansas. John W. was born in Cabell County, Virginia, in what is now West Virginia, in 1835. His father, John Harshbarger, also a native of Virginia, died in the western part of that state three months before his son, John W., was born. Grandfather John Harshbarger was a blacksmith. His wife was a Miss Doolittle, of a Maryland family, and a sister of United States Senator Doolittle of Maryland. The Harshbargers originated in Switzerland and came to Baltimore in colonial days.

John W. Harshbarger was reared in Edgar County, Illinois. He also married there. While a young man he studied medicine and in 1861 he enlisted in Burgess’ Sharpshooters and participated in a part of the Missouri campaign and also was in some of the fighting cast of the Mississippi, but after the battle of Shiloh was discharged on account of disability. He then re-enlisted as a hospital steward in the regular army and for four years was stationed in that capacity at the Army Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his honorable discharge in 1866. Returning to Illinois he engaged in the drug business, but still more profitable were his contracts to furnish ties and wood fuel to the Indianapolis and St. Louis Railroad and individually he furnished most of the ties used during the construction of that road.

In 1874 John W. Harshbarger moved to Montgomery County, Kansas, buying a farm, was engaged in its cultivation four years, then removed to Cedarvale, where he was proprietor of a hotel two years, and returning to his old home at Vermilion, Illinois, took up the meat business. He again came back to Kansas and conducted a meat market at Chautauqua Springs until he retired in 1909. He died at Chautauqua Springs in 1910. In his early years John W. Harshbarger was a republican, but subsequently became a democrat. An interesting fact in connection with his early career is that during the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, which more than anything else gave Abraham Lincoln his national reputation and made him available as a candidate for President, Mr. Harshbarger was employed as one of the secretaries for Mr. Lincoln. Fraternally he was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

John W. Harshbarger married Amanda Stubbs. She was born in Preble County, Ohio, in 1843, and still resided at Coffeyville, Kansas. Her father, Samuel Stubbs, was a native of Ohio, and died in Edgar County, Illinois, in 1869. He was a pioneer settler there, followed farming and the trade of carpenter, and was a strict Quaker in religion. Samuel Stubba married a Miss Talbot, who was born in Ohio and died near Vermilion, Illinois, in 1878. The Stubbs family came out of England to Pennsylvania with William Penn. There were three brothers of that name, and from one of these brothers a branch of the family moved into Ohio. Ex-Governor Roscoe Stubbs of Kansas was a third cousin of Mrs. Amanda Stubbs Harshbarger.

The children of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Harshbarger were: Harry R.; Robert Burns, who is a worker in the oil fields and lives at Sperry, Oklahoma; Gay, who lives at Coffeyville and is teaching school, married F. H. Jay; Joseph W. is an attorney practicing at Sperry, Oklahoma; Roscoe is in the dray business at Sperry, Oklahoma.

Harry R. Harshbarger first came to Kansas as a small boy, attended the public schools of Montgomery and Chautauqua counties and received part of his education back in Illinois. At the age of eighteen he left school to become a worker in the business ranks, and for several years was employed in a meat market at Chautauqua Springs and in other places. In 1900 he removed to Holdenville, Oklahoma, where he was proprietor of a meat market and where he married. In the spring of 1902 he came to Sedan, and was engaged in the meat business there until 1910. In that year he moved to a farm, cultivated it three years, and then returned to Sedan. A number of years ago Mr. Harshbarger became interested in the oil business, and is one of the men who have been successful in handling oil leases and in development work. He now had seventeen producing wells near Sedan and is secretary and treasurer of the Dser Creek Oil and Gas Company.

Besides his residence at the corner of Spruce and the county road he owned a business building on Chautauqua Avenue occupied by the National Supply Company and a farm of forty acres adjoining Sedan on the southwest. Mr. Harshbarger is a democrat and had been serving in the city council of Sedan for four years. He is past noble grand of Sedan Lodge No. 141, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; a member of Camp No. 919 of the Modern Woodmen of America; of the Royal Nelghbors; the Rebekahs, Lodge No. 33, at Sedan, and takes an active interest in the affairs of the local Commercial Club.

In 1901, at Holdenville, then in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, he married Miss Clara Whitford. Her father, S. C. Whitford, was born in New York State in 1847 and died in Fayetts County, Illinois, in 1882. Mrs. Harshbarger’s grandfather Whitford was born in New York State in 1816 and was an early settler on a farm in Fayette County, Illinois, and died there in 1880. The Whitfords came out of England and were early setters in New York State. S. C. Whitford, who was reared and married in New York State, followed farming, and the year after his marriage moved to Illinois. He was a democrat in politics. He married Frances Babcock, whose ancestors were also of English descent. She was born in New York State in 1844 and now resided at Mount Vernon, Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Whitford had the following children: Lydia May, who resided at Pacific, Missouri, the widow of James McCasland, who was a cement contractor; Minnie Bell, who died in Chicago in 1896, was the wife of Mr. Wilson, a city mail carrier; Mrs. Harshbarger is the third in age; Catherine married E. O. Hunter, a farmer living at Godfrey, Illinois; Frederick, who died at the age of fifteen.

Mrs. Harshbarger received her early education in the public schools at Farina, Illinois. She is an active member of the Christian Church, a member of Lodge No. 33 of the Rebekahs at Sedan, of the Boyal Neighbors and of the Fraternal Aid Union.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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