Dr. Harrison P. HUNTSINGER. One of the leaders of the medical profession in Pinekneyville is Dr. Harrison P. Huntsinger. He has passed a third of a century caring for the physical ills of the people of this community, but it is not always diseases of the body that he is called upon to minister unto, for he is often required to heal wounded hearts or to restore to health a mind diseased. He has not gone up and down their streets and in and out of their homes for these many years without having made for himself in the lives of these people a place that could never be filled by another. When the children have the chicken-pox or mother has a bad headache, one of the younger doctors is sent for, but if it should look like diphtheria or pneumonia, the "old doctor" is sent for poste haste; one of the younger men may be given charge of the case, but the family must have the spiritual support of Dr. Huntsinger's cheery courage and sympathetic presence. Notwithstanding his years as a physician, his four years spent in the army, during the cruelest scenes of the Civil war, and his activity in the field of politics, all of these experiences tending to show him all the weakness and frailty of human nature, and to make his belief in the goodness of the world a lacking quality, he remained sound to the core, the sweetness of his nature excusing those who fainted by the wayside, and in the strength of his belief in their innate goodness helping to their feet those who fell.
Harrison P. Huntsinger comes of sturdy German stock, his ancestors all being men who stood for the best, and were always prominent in the public affairs of the communities wherein they lived. His father was John Huntsinger, who was born near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1810, where his father, Henry Huntsinger, had settled on his advent from Germany. The latter was a man of sterling merit, and was a welcome addition to the many places where he lived. He, like so many of his countrymen, was a natural musician, and had had considerable training in the art, and he was well known all over the section as a singing school master. This was in the days when the singing school was the social center, and we owe many of our musicians of today to the inspiration that their mothers and fathers received at the hands of musicians of the old school. Henry Huntsinger finally drifted west and died in St. Joseph county, Indiana, at the age of eighty-four. He was a prominent member of the Missionary Baptist church, and all of his family were well grounded in the tenets of this belief. His wife was Catherine Kessler, also a native of Germany, who died in St. Joseph county, Indiana.
The children of these two were Ezekiel; John; Catherine, wife of Jesse Bell; Martha, who became the wife of John Elginfritz; Jane, who married Lewis Ireland; and Samantha, who married the latter's brother.
John Huntsinger received an education that was a mixture of the best that two races could give. At school he was taught lessons from books, receiving an English education, while at home he was thoroughly grounded in the high principles of German morality and received lessons in thrift and industry. As a young man he went to Michigan, where he became noted for his activity in favor of the abolition of slavery. He served for years as a kind of station agent of the "underground railroad," by which escaping slaves were aided to make their way safely into Canada. He was one of the original members of the Republican that he always loved to recall was when he with others raised a flagpole party, and was a Fremont committeeman for his precinct. An incident in honor of the first nominee of the new party.
Kiziah Pettit, a daughter of Henry Pettit, who in pioneer days had moved from Ohio to Michigan, was married to Mr. Huntsinger in 1836. In 1857 Mr. Huntsinger came to Bond county, Illinois, and there he died in 1872. His wife passed away in 1864, leaving a large family of children. The eldest, Mary Elizabeth, married Frederick Jones and died in St. Louis in 1907; Martha A. became the wife of Richard Brann and lives in Mound City, Kansas; Benjamin F., who is a resident of Brownsville, Minnesota; Dr. Harrison P.; Cyrenius, who died in Hot Springs, Arkansas, having never married; Charles A., of Perry county, Illinois; and Francis B., of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Harrison Huntsinger was born on the 3d of January, 1845, near Niles, Michigan, and here he grew up, attending the country schools and leading the life of a happy barefoot farmer's boy. He was no more than a youngster when the Civil war broke out, in fact he was still going to the school at the cross roads. This deterred him in no way from his determination to enlist and his mother, outwardly brave but with a sad heart, let him go. He enlisted in Bond county, Illinois, in Company C, of the Twenty-sixth Illinois Infantry, commanded by Captain George Keener. Later on Captain Dugger assumed command of the company, and he was killed at the battle of Jackson, Mississippi. John M. Loomis was the regimental commander and the regiment formed a part of the First Division of the Fifteenth Corps. The first time the boy smelled powder was in the engagement at New Madrid, Missouri, from thence the regiment proceeded to Pittsburg Landing and later to Corinth, Mississippi, taking part in the battles at both places. The siege of Vicksburg came next and the young soldier was in all the main engagements leading up to the capitulation of the stronghold. After the dispersal of General Johnston's army at Jackson he accompanied the advance on Chattanooga, the march being by way of Memphis. He was a participant in the capture of Lookout Mountain and in the bloody struggle of Missionary Ridge, and followed the Confederates in their retreat toward Atlanta. Then followed days of incessant warfare, the engagements at Resaca, New Hope Church, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, and on the 22d and 28th of July the fierce fighting around Atlanta. Following this came Jonesboro, and then Sherman's march to the sea. Back north through the Carolinas, skirmishing, fighting, plundering and devastating during the late winter and spring of 1865 came the army, on that march that is the hardest event in the whole war for a Southerner to forgive. On the 26th of April General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his army to the victorious General Sherman, and young Huntsinger was one of the army that made its triumphal entry into Washington in time to participate in the Grand Review.
This was the final act in the four years' drama, and the curtain fell on the last scene when the boy, who had entered the army at seventeen, had become a veteran at Scottsburg, Alabama, in July of 1864, was mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky, on the 5th day of August, 1865. He had passed through the severest fighting that had come to the lot of any of the Union armies, and the two scars that he bears serve as reminders of those days of desperate conflict. One of these came from the jab of a saber that he received in the breast in a fierce hand to hand struggle at Dallas, Georgia, the other is the mark of a bullet that bit its stinging way into his foot at Atlanta.
After the war Dr. Huntsinger went back to school, spending some time in the high school at Jacksonville, Illinois. He then decided to take up the study of medicine, and began his preliminary studies with Dr. J. J. King, of that place. He then attended Rush Medical College in Chicago and received his degree from that well known institution in 1877. The next two years he practiced in the city, and then came to Pinckneyville. He is the second oldest practitioner in the place now, and as he grows older is leaving the field more and more to the "boys" of the profession. Recently he has become interested in the drug business as a member of the firm of Huntsinger and Kugle.
The Republican party has always counted him one of their most loyal workers, and for twenty-five years he has served on the county committee of that party. During the eight years in which he was chairman of it he came to know many of the party leaders of the state of Illinois, and they in turn realized how valuable were his services. As a slight reward for his services he was appointed postmaster of Pinckneyville, by President McKinley, and served his fellow-citizens in that capacity until 1911.
Dr. Huntsinger is a member of the Masonic order being a Knight Templar. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and is a past commander of the local post. In his religious affiliations he is a Methodist. He has added materially to the up-building of the town by the erection of several business houses and residences, his own home being one of the most artistic and modern in the city.
On the 22d of February, 1884, Dr. Huntsinger was married in Perry county, Illinois, to Mary E. Baird. His wife is the daughter of Alexander P. Baird, a member of one of the old families of Southern Illinois and of Randolph county. The mother of Mrs. Huntsinger was Jane Henderson, and the children of Mr. and Mrs. Baird were Porter, a farmer of Perry county and the president of the County Fair Association; Luther, of Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Ida, who is the wife of Dr, W. S. Wallace, of Sparta, Illinois; and Mrs. Huntsinger, who is the eldest child. The only child of Dr. and Mrs Huntsinger is a daughter Clara, who is the wife of Dr. D. O. Mead, of Pinckneyville.