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Harding, Abner C.

Born: 1807-02-10 Connecticut

Died: 1874-07-19 Monmouth, Illinois

Flourished: Monmouth, Illinois

In 1815, Harding moved with his parents from Connecticut to Plainfield, New York, where he spent his formative years. He received his schooling at Hamilton Academy in Clinton, New York. In 1821, he attempted to enlist in the United States Navy, but was rejected due to his physical size. From 1821 to 1826, he worked as a teacher, drover, and tin ware peddler. In 1827, he commenced reading law in Bridgewater, New York, and in 1828, he moved to Pennsylvania, where he earned admittance to the bar. He settled in Lewisburg, and in 1829, he married Rebecca L. Byers, with whom he had two children. Rebecca Harding died in 1833. In 1835, Abner won election to the Pennsylvania constitutional convention. In June 1835, he wed a second time to Susan A. Ickes. In 1837-38, Abner served in the Pennsylvania constitutional convention. In June 1838, Abner and his family moved to Monmouth, Illinois, where he commenced the practice of law. He also became interested in politics, becoming an adherent of the Whig Party. In 1847, Warren County voters elected him as a Whig to represent them at the Illinois constitutional convention. From January to November 1849, he represented Warren County in the Illinois House of Representatives. He also became heavily involved in railroad promotion and construction. In 1850, he was practicing law in Monmouth and owned real estate valued at $30,000. In 1851, failing eyesight forced him to give up his law practice, and from 1852 to 1860, he traveled extensively for his health and concentrated on his railroad business and farming. In 1860, he was farming near Monmouth and owned real estate valued at $20,000 and had a personal estate of $1,000. In 1862, he enlisted as a private in the Eighty-Third Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry. In August, he won election as colonel of the regiment, and in March 1863, he received promotion to brigadier general. In June, he resigned his commission due to failing eyesight. In 1864, he won election as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Gravestone, Monmouth Cemetery, Monmouth, IL; Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 462; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 217; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Warren County, IL, 95; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Monmouth, Warren County, IL, 163; Portrait and Biographical Album of Warren County, Illinois (Chicago: Chapman, 1886), 541-43; Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1159.