FLEMING, David, deceased, lawyer, of Harrisburg, Pa., was born in Washington county, Pa., July 17, 1812; was one of a family of eleven children and son of Samuel and Sarah (Beckett) Fleming. His paternal grandfather was of Scotch ancestry and a native of Ireland. He settled in Cecil county, Md., from Ireland, afterwards in Chester county, Pa., and subsequently at Bald Eagle, from which place, with his family, he was driven away by the Indians. In the attack one son, Samuel, father of our subject, was shot through the arm. He afterwards settled in Washington county and in 1812 removed to Dauphin county, where he spent the remainder of his active life, a farmer, in West Hanover township. The family attended and were members of the Presbyterian church there under the well-known clergyman, Rev. James Snodgrass.
David Fleming spent his boyhood on the farm, obtained his early education at the common schools and Harrisburg Academy, and for several years, alternating with attending school, he was a successful teacher here and in Baltimore county, Md., in the latter place teaching classics and the higher mathematics. On account of ill health he turned his attention to business pursuits and became a clerk for D. D. N. L. Reutter, a contractor on the Baltimore and Port Deposit railroad, and after a time took charge for him of the shipment of pine timber for the Navy yard at Washington, D. C., from North Carolina, making several trips by sea and greatly improving his health. In 1838 he returned to Harrisburg and for several years edited a local paper and reported the proceedings of the Legislature for four Philadelphia journals, including the United States Gazette. In 1839 he entered the law office of William McClure as a student, was admitted to the bar at Harrisburg in November, 1841, and was uninterruptedly engaged in the practice of his profession until his death January 12, 1890. Mr. Fleming practiced in the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth since 1843, and the reported decisions of that tribunal will show that he was concerned in a large proportion of the cases removed from Dauphin and other counties, many of them involving principles of great importance During his late years he attended to bankruptcy practice in the two Federal courts.
He closed his labors as newspaper correspondent in 1847 and was elected chief clerk of the House of Representatives and served during that session. He was nominated by the Whigs in 1848, but a tie in that body and the absence of one of his friends gave the place to the Democratic candidate by one vote. In 1854 he was elected district attorney, served three years and declined a re-election. In 1863 he was elected to the State Senate and served for three years in that body, being chairman of the committee on the judiciary during his second year and speaker in the closing session of his term. Outside his profession Mr. Fleming was identified in various ways with most of the leading interests of Harrisburg. He was one of the founders of the Harrisburg Car Works in 1853, subsequently obtained its charter and succeeded William Calder upon his death, in 1880, as president and also a member of the board and stockholder of the Foundry and Machine Company, which originated from the same enterprise; member of the board and counsel for the Lochiel Iron Company and assisted in the organization of its successor, the Lochiel Rolling Mill Company. He was counsel and one of the directors of the Harrisburg National Bank for many years and was one of the incorporators in organizing the First National Bank, of Harrisburg, for which he was a director and counsel. He was a director of the Inland Telegraph Company and afterwards of the United States Telegraph Company until its consolidation with the Western Union lines and has been counsel for the latter, as well as for the Atlantic and Ohio and the Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph Companies, the Columbian Oil Company and many other large corporations in several important suits, involving the taxation of these corporations by the State. He was one of the originators of the first Harrisburg Gas company and was president of the People’s Gas and Gaseous Fuel Company, of Harrisburg. Mr. Fleming was one of the founders and secretary and treasurer of the Harrisburg City Street railway and was a director. he was a trustee for the Home of the Friendless, of Harrisburg, and a member of the board of trustees of the Market Square Presbyterian church, of which he was president for many years. he was one of the oldest Sunday-school teachers in the city at the time of his death and always aided in any enterprise tending to better educate the rising generation. He was patriotic and rendered support to the Union cause by his influence and means in the Civil war. Mr. Fleming’s law partner with whom he was associated since 1870 is Mr. S. J. M. McCarrell, who read law with him and was admitted to practice in 1867.
He married, in 1852, Susan, daughter of Charles and Mary (Richmond) Mowry, of Harrisburg, who died October 19, 1895. her father published the first newspaper at Downingtown, Pa., and after his removal to Harrisburg he was appointed one of the first canal commissioners in the State, and conducted a newspaper in company with Gen. Simon Cameron. Their children were Charles M., a graduate of Princeton College and a member of the Dauphin county bar, recently deceased; Sarah, graduate of Vassar College, married Joshua W. Sharpe, of Chambersburg, Pa., June 3, 1889; David, a graduate of Princeton College, treasurer of the Foundry and Machine Works; George R., attorney-at-law, and Mary, born 1869, died in 1871.
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