Mifflin County Family Files
Harshberger Family of Mifflin County


This family, a noted one in the medical history of the Juniata Valley, descends from a German ancestry. The founder, a farmer, settled in Potter township, Center county, at an early date, leaving a large family, many of the name yet living in the same locality or near where their ancestor first settled.

(I) John Harshberger was born in Germany and came to the United States in the latter half of the eighteenth century. He became a farmer of Penns Valley, Center county, Pennsylvania, his farm lying in Potter township. There he lived until death, honored and respected. He died and two of his sons, Abraham and Henry, became eminent physicians of Juniata and Mifflin counties. The latter, born February 18, 1818, studied with his brother, Dr. Abraham, obtained his degree from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, and practised at McAllisterville, Pennsylvania, dying there January 28, 1883.

(II) Dr. Abraham Harshberger, son of John Harshberger, was born in Penns Valley, Center county, Pennsylvania, December 12, 1810, died in Milroy, Mifflin county, Pennsylvania, in 1893. He obtained a good preparatory education, read medicine with Dr. T. A. Worrall and Dr. William I. Wilson, of Potters Mills, in Lewistown, 1841 and 1842, and then entered Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia, whence he was graduated M. D., class of 1844. He married, and established in practice in McAllisterville, Juniata county, Pennsylvania, remaining until 1855, when he moved to Port Royal in the same county. Here he practised until September, 1861, then gave up all his plans and ambitions to enter the service of his country. He enlisted in 1862 and was elected captain of Company I, 49th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He did not accompany his regiment to the front, but deciding he could be of greater usefulness as a physician than as a soldier, he was commissioned assistant surgeon of the 124th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry, August 2, 1862, was promoted surgeon December 5, 1862, transferred to the 166th Pennsylvania Regiment, and November 9, 1863, to the 149th Regiment, serving with the latter regiment until the war closed, being mustered out June 24, 1865. His regiments were a part of the Army of the Potomac and the doctor was under fire at Antietam, Hatcher's Run, Wilderness, Stony Creek Station, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Yellow Tavern and other engagements. After the war Dr. Harshberger returned to his home in Juniata county, but his three years of absence had given other physicians the field and on September 4, 1865, he moved to Milroy, Mifflin county, and there continued in active, successful practise until his death in 1893.

Dr. Harshberger was a learned, successful physician and stood high in the medical fraternity. He was a member of the American Medical, Pennsylvania State Medical and Mifflin County Medical societies and kept pace with all medical thought and discovery, while his army experience had given him a skill in surgery unequalled in the county. He was a member of the Presbyterian church, and with his wife, rendered useful Christian service. While a member of both the Masonic and Odd Fellow fraternities, his humanities extended to all men and his charity was not bounded by lodge or church lines. In politics he was a Republican, but he never accepted public office, his profession being to him all-in-all.

He married in Penns Valley, Mary Ann McCoy, born there about 1822, died in Milroy, Mifflin county, in 1881, daughter of Alexander and Mary (McDowell) McCoy, both born in Ireland, but married in Center county, Pennsylvania. They settled on a farm in Center county, which they owned and cultivated until death. Their children were: John, Frank, Mary Ann, Margaret and Hannah, the latter the wife of Henry H. Van Dyke. Children of Dr. Abraham Harshberger: 1. Frances E., married Rev. John Butler, a missionary to China, both deceased. 2. Alexander Samuel, of whom further. 3. John, died aged four years. 4. Mary, died aged four years. 5. Annie C, died aged twenty years, unmarried. 6. Frank McCoy, a graduate lawyer, now engaged in the legal department of the Northern Pacific railroad, located at Tacoma, Washington.

(III) Dr. Alexander Samuel Harshberger, son of Dr. Abraham and Mary Ann (McCoy) Harshberger, was born at McAllisterville, Pennsylvania, January 6, 1850. He was educated at Airy View Academy, Port Royal, Pennsylvania, a graduate of the class of 1867, after which he read medicine with his father until March, 1869, when he entered the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, whence he was graduated M. D., class of 1870. For the first thirteen years of his professional life he practised in association with his honored father. Dr. Abraham Harshberger, gaining in actual sick-room practise and by association with the veteran army surgeon a most valuable experience. In August, 1884. he moved to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where he is firmly established in successful general medical and surgical practise. He is surgeon-in-chief and president of the board of directors of Lewistown Hospital, a position he has most capably filled ever since its erection in 1907. He is a member of the American Medical, the Pennsylvania State and Mifflin County Medical societies, and also contributes occasional articles to the medical journals, treating of special or unusual cases that occur in his practice. For fifteen years he has been surgeon to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company; has served on the state and local boards of health and in private practise is the oldest physician in Lewistown.

He has business interests outside his profession, including a directorship in the Mann Edge Tool Company. In political belief he is a Republican and for sixteen years has served his borough as school director. He is a member of Lodge No. 203, Free and Accepted Masons; Chapter No. 186, Royal Arch Masons; Commandery No. 26, Knights Templar; and Lodge No. 97, Independent Order of Odd Fellows and belongs to the beneficial order, Royal Arcanum. In religious faith he is a Presbyterian.

Dr. Harshberger married, December 27, 1872, Mary Elizabeth Brown, born in Mifflin county, Pennsylvania, daughter of James M. Brown. Child: Annie G., born December 24, 1879, was educated in Lewistovvn public schools and is a graduate of Swarthmore Preparatory School. She married William W. Cunningham, who is cashier of the Citizen's National Bank of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, and they have a son, Alexander Samuel Cunningham.


Portions of the above were taken from "The History of the Juniata Valley and Its People," J. Jordan, 1913





Return to Mifflin County, PA AGHP



2012 Mifflin County Pennsylvania AHGP