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Harkisheimer, Major William J.

    Was born January 11th, 1838, at Philadelphia, Pa.  His father, William Harkisheimer, was of German descent, and his mother, Margaret Douglass McLean, of Scotch ancestry.  He was the second child of five children; was educated in the Public Schools of Philadelphia.  At the age o sixteen was apprenticed to learn the trade of watch-case making.  So thoroughly did he measter this trade that in his eighteenth year he mar a watch case that was awarded the first prize at the exhibition of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.  He has carried the watch ever since and takes much just pride in showing it to his friends to this day.  The disastrous panic of 1857 almost ruined the watch case business, so he gave it up, and took a clerkship in the Philadelphia Department of Public Highways.  The stirring times which followed the nomination of Lincoln for the Presidency drew him into politics, and he took an active part in the campaign.  He was made Secretary of one of the Executive Committees which had the management off the campaign that resulted in the triumph of the Republican candidate.  Then the war came on.  At the first call for volunteers by the President, he was offered a lieutenantcy by Colonel George P. McLean, who was raising a regiment, but as he preferred to win his spurs before wearing them, he declined and enlisted as a private soldier, April 21st, 1861.  He was subsequently promoted through all the grades from Corporal to Major.  During this time he saw much service in the Shenandoah Valley and in the Army of the Potomac.  He was severely wounded in yhe batytle of Fredericksburg, December, 1862, and received honorable mention for gallantry in that battle.

    During his eight years of military service Major Harkisheimer held many positions of danger, honor and trust.  As an example:  While aide-de-camp on the staff of General William R. Montgomery, from October, 1861, to April, 1862, while the Army of the Potomac was being organized, he, staioned at Alexandria, Va., was appointed to the important position of chief officer to manage and control all traffic and intercourse with that army.  All persons having business of any kind in the lines of the Army of the Potomac, all persons traveling to or from the South, had first to be examined by him as to the nature of their business and their loyalty to the Government, and obtain a pass from him.  The chief part of this consisted of traffic, tradesmen supplying the army, which amounted to throusands of dollars every day.  Many of the asses issued by the Major at that time have been preserved as relics, some of which have come under his eye quite recently.  After two years service as aide-de-camp and Assistant Adjutant-General, he was ordered, in June, 1866, to duty at Columbia, S. C., where he remained until his retirement from the service in 1869.  By his humane and soldierly conduct at this station he won and still retains many warm friends in his "hotbed of secession."  After his retirement from the army he returned to Philadelphia, where he resided for several years, and in the Spring of 1876 removed to Jacksonville and engaged in the wholesale and retail grocery business, where he met with signal success.  His aim was to revolutionize the business by methods entirely different from and far superior to those in vogue when he came; nor in vain.  He has always taken a keen interest in public affairs and is ever foremost in any movement for the upbuilding of his adopted City.  He has not only never sought politcal referment but has persistently declined many offices that have sought him.  Although a Republican, he yet has the confidence and regard of the Democratic Council to such a degree that he was unanimously chosen by that body to succeed the late Judge Summers as a Police Commissioner.  It was only after much insistence that he was prevailed upon to accept the position, and then only because he regarded it as  duty he owed to the City.  He is associated with many public and private enterprises, to which he gives much of his time and energy.  Chief among these are the Building and Loan Associations, the first of which he established in 1884, and is now President of the Duval Building and Loan Association.  Also President of the Merchants' Steamship Company of Florida; Vice-President of the Savings and Trust Bank of Florida; a director in the National Bnk of Jacksonville, the National Bank of Fernandina, the Putnam National Bank of Palatka, the Seminole, Club, and Director and Treasurer of the National Peace River Phosphate Company.  He was also one of the originators of the Jacksonville Board of Trade.  He is a member of the military order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union Veteran Legion, and has been in the Masonic fraternity for thirty-two years.  He was married in 1868 to Miss Jennie E. Crane, daughter of Judge W. E. Crane, of Yonkers, N. Y.  Of four children, two survive:  Howard E., and Mattie R.  Major Harkisheimer has done much for Jacksonville, and with his fine character, his gentle and courtly manners and kindly disposition, he has greatly endeared himself to the people of the community, who hold him in the highest esteem.