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STRANAHAN, James A., attorney-at-law, was born in Philadelphia, March 7, 1839. He is a son of Andrew and Eliza (Holliday) Stranahan, both natives of county Down, Ireland, of Scotch-Irish ancestry. They came to America about 1820 and remained in Philadelphia until 1851, when they removed to Mercer county, where they made their home. They were engaged in agricultural pursuits, and were honored residents of the county. The father died in 1869, aged eighty years; the mother still lives, at the advanced age of ninety-six years, residing in Mercer county. They were married in Philadelphia, and to them were born four children, three sons and a daughter. The daughter died in infancy. The sonns are: andrew, james A. and robert. Andrew and Robert still live on the old homestead in Mercer county. James A. received his primary education in the public schools of Philadelphia. When twelve years old he removed with his parents to Mercer county, where he completed his education in the township common schools, Mercer Union School and Westminster College, at New Wilmington, Pa., and was graduated at the latter institution. He began the study of law with Hon. John Trunkey, late justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and was admitted to the Mercer county bar in 1864, where he practiced until 1891, when he was appointed deputy attorney general by Governor Pattison, and filled this office for four years with much credit to himself and the entire State. While acting as deputy attorney general that department, from 1891 to 1895, was engaged in the settlement of complicated legal questions arising under the revenue laws of the Commonwealth, and he had to contend with the leading lawyers of the State, who were counsel for the corporations. Since his retirement from active practice at the Dauphin county bar he has been consulted in many prominent cases. The most noted was the mandamus proceedings against the secretary of the Commonwealth to test the sonstitutionality of the act of Assembly of 1895, as applied to the question of limited voting — whether a voter could be restricted to voting for six judges when seven were to be elected to the Superior Court. Although the decision was adverse to him in the court below he carries the case to the Supreme Court and had the decision of the lower court reversed, and thus established the principal of limited voting under the Constitution in Pennsylvania. From 1851 to 1864 he was engaged in work on his father’s farm, attending school in the winter months. In 1864 he enlisted as a private in company H, Second battalion, six monnths’ Pennsylvania volunteers, and was mustered in as second lieutenant, and occupied the position of post adjutant at Cumberland, Md., diring his term of service under Maj. Herman Kretz, now superintendent of the mint at Philadelphia, who was provost marshal at Cumberland at that time. He was mustered out at the expiration of his term of service, and finally discharged at Pittsburgh, Pa. He returned to Mercer and resumed the study of law. He was elected to the Legislature in 1873, and represented Mercer county one term. He was chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee in 1894. In political views he is a Democrat, and an active and influential worker in the party. Mr. Stranahan has been twice married. His first wife was Miss Mary E. Robinson, to whom he was married in Mercer county May 14, 1865. She was a daughter of Rev. William M. Robinson, pastor of the Second Presbyterian church of Mercer, and Eliza (Robinson) Robinson, To them wass born one child, Charles, who died in infancy. Mrs. Stranahan died March 31, 1868. In his second marriage, which took place at Hartstown, Crawford county, Pa., February 25, 1874, he was united to Miss Elizabeth Ewing, daughter of Benoni and Mary Ewing, a native of Crawford county, Pa. They have one child, Mary E., born May 6, 1876. Mr. Stranahan, wife and daughter are members of the Second Presbyterian church of Mercer. Mr. Stranahan connducts a general law practice in Harrisburg and enjoys a large, growing and lucrative business.

Historical Review of Dauphin County

Transcribed by Linda Mockenhaupt for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project -

Date of Transcription: 11 December 2000

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