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KUNKEL, John Christian, son of George Kunkel, was born September 18, 1816, in Harrisburg, Pa.; died October 14, 1870, in Harrisburg, Pa. He received a liberal scientific and classical education in the schools at Gettysburg and at Jefferson College, Cannonsburg, at which latter institution he graduated. After leaving college he entered the Carlisle law school under Judge Read, subsequently reading law with James McCormick, and admitted to the Dauphin county bar. After his admission to the bar he remained several years in the office with Mr. McCormick. He rapidly gained a large practice and a reputation which few members of the bar enjoy. He also became active in politics, and, in the earnest and exciting campaign of 1844, when the young men of the Nation had made Henry Clay, then in the zenith of his career, their standard-bearer, the best talent and most brilliant eloquence that ever graced the American rostrum was called into requisition. Amid all the magnificent display and power of logic, that of the orator of Pennsylvania, as Mr. Kunkel was recognized, was conspicuous as well for force of argument as for grace of delivery. The same year he was elected to the Legislature, re-elected in 1845, and again in 1850. In 1851 he was elected to the State Senate, and was chosen speaker of that body at the close of the first session of his term. As a legislator Mr. Kunkel was prominent for the wisdom of his counsel as well as for the power of his eloquence. His services at the capital added greatly to his already wide reputation as a pure statesman and accomplished scholar. In 1854 and again in 1856 he was elected to the United States Congress. During the four years he spent in Washington city, he was regarded throughout the country as one of the ablest statesmen at the national capital. In 1858 he retired from public life, and gave his exclusive attention to the practice of his profession, varying the course of his life by occasionally helping a friend in a political canvass, and, wherever he went he was always the favorite of the people. In 1868 he was stricken down with paralysis, and never fully regained his health, dying as previously stated. Perchance the loss of no member of the Dauphin county bar was so severely felt as that of Mr. Kunkel, if we are to judge of the glowing, sincere and fraternal tributes paid to his memory by his brethren in the profession at the time of his death. Mr. Kunkel married, October 20, 1857, Elizabeth Crain Rutherford, daughter of Dr. William Wilson Rutherford and Eleanor Crain; she resided at Harrisburg, Pa.


Historical Review of Dauphin County

Transcribed by Becky Tuszynski becky@voicenet.com for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription.

Date of Transcription: 12 Nov 2000

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