GEORGE A. HARNEY. The biographer in his peregrinations over the country, hunting after the most interesting facts connected with the history of its people, finds almost invariably that the men of prominence and influence are those who have been the architects of their own fortunes - whose early opportunities were limited and whose finances, especially, were only such as they accumulated by their own industry. These sentiments are particularly applicable to the subject of this notice, who commenced life at the foot of the ladder as a farm laborer. Later, he officiated as a clerk in a dry-goods store, and then became interested in railroad matters. This latter seemed that to which he was well adapted, and in which he has been successful as the employee of the Jacksonville & Southeastern Company for a period of eighteen years, during which time he has held the position of Station Agent, at Franklin. In addition to the duties of this office he also operates largely in grain, wool and coal. He owns one of the finest residences in the village, and has a farm of 190 acres which is operated by other parties, but which is the source of a fine income to its owners.
Mr. Harney is a native of this county, and was born June 3, 1850. He pursued his first studies in the village school, and later, made himself master of the branches which would enable him to transact general business in a correct manner. He is the scion of a good family, being the son of William H. R. Harney, a native of Lexington, Ky., who came to Illinois in 1829, settled in this county, and for some years was occupied in farming pursuits. Later, he engaged in the manufacture of rope and twine for several years, in the village of Franklin, and finally retired from active labor, and spent his last days in peace and comfort, dying about 1882.
Mrs. Mary (Orr) Harney, the mother of our subject, was a native, was a native of Ohio, and came to this county with her parents at an early day. She died of cholera in 1851, when a young woman, and when her son, our subject, was less than a year old. The parental household included eight children, only three of whom are living, namely: Paulina D., Margery, and George A., of our sketch. The elder sister is the wife of John A. Wright, of this county; they have no children. Margery married F. G. Lombard, a gentleman of French birth and parentage, and who is engaged as a Collection Agent, in Waverly. He also owns a farm, and they have five children, Willie E., Frank, Joseph B., Margery and Caroline.
Francis M. went to New Orleans in 1856, and joined Walker's filibustering expedition to Central America, where he was captured by the natives, but escaped in company with a friend to North Carolina. When Beaureguard fired upon Ft. Sumter, he joined the Confederate army and was killed at Gettysburg, July 4, 1863. His remains were buried on the battle field, and afterward removed to the Confederate cemetery at Richmond, Va. Another brother, James P., enlisted in 1861, as a Union soldier in Company H, 32d Illinois Infantry; was slightly wounded at Shiloh, and after the expiration of his first term of enlistment veteranized and went with Gen. Sherman on the march to the sea. At the close of the war he started home, but was taken ill on the way and died at the general hospital in New York City.
Upon approaching manhood our subject occupied himself mostly at clerking, and when ready to establish a home of his own, was married March 25, 1874, to Miss Anna W., daughter of Dr. W. N. Tandy. Mrs. Harney was born in 1859, in Missouri, and was deprived of a mother's care when a small child. Her father died in Illinois, about 1885. Their family consisted of nine children, eight of whom are living, viz: Thomas S., Leonidas W., Edward M., Jessie M., Darian E., Mary B., Ella J. and Emma. Darian and Thomas are employed as teachers in the schools at Franklin; Thomas S. is a physician and surgeon for the Wabash Railroad, and makes his home in Kinderhook; Leonidas is also a practicing physician in Kinderhook.
Only one of the two children born to our subject and his wife is living, a son, Glenn W., who was born July 11, 1881. The other son, Harry C., died in 1880, when two years old. Mr. and Mrs. H. are devout members of the Christian Church. Mr. H. has been identified with the masonic fraternity for many years, and has held most of the offices of his lodge, being at present Senior Warden. He cast his first Presidential vote for Greeley, and thereafter, until the late (1888) Presidential election, affiliated with the Democratic party. As he is in favor of protection, he cast his last vote for Gen. Harrison. As a man and a citizen, Mr. Harney holds a position in the front rank. He is courteous and gentlemanly, and at once impresses those who meet him, as possessing those qualities of character naturally belonging to the gentleman born and bred. He has accumulated his property solely by his own exertions, and while he looks with contempt upon the idler and the drone in community, no man is more willing to extend a helping hand to those who try to help themselves.