The career of a dutiful, honorable and upright man, a gallant soldier, a thorough and diligent agriculturist and a useful, intelligent and patriotic citizen, is illustrated in the enviable life record of Captain Harrington, on of the old and honored residents of Groton Township. He has not only performed his own part in life well, but belongs to a family which in many intimate and useful ways has been identified with Erie County since the beginning of settlement in this section of Northern Ohio. In fact, the Harringtons are among the very oldest families of the county, having been represented in local citizenship for considerably more than a century. Its early members braved the hardships and privations of the wild unbroken district in the early years of the nineteenth century, and in all the generations those of the name have been looked upon as men and women of industry and honorable dealings who have contributed in large degree to the develop!ment and growth of their communities.
The birth of Capt. Jonathan F. Harrington occurred on a farm in Groton Township January 3, 1835. His parents were Ralph and Anna (Paxton) Harrington, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Kentucky. Ralph Harrington was a son of Seth Harrington, who was born in Rhode Island, and owing to his service as a captain of militia in early days of Ohio was long familiarly know as Capt. Seth Harrington. Captain Seth brought his family in 1812 to what is Erie County, Ohio. His settlement was on the banks of Pipe Creek in Groton Township. His simple home was in the midst of the wilderness and one of the chief sources of livelihood come from the wild game found in abundance all over the country. The life of the family in the early days was similar to that of other pioneers. Only the barest of necessities were obtainable, and the comforts and conveniences were not to be thought of. The Harringtons were typical of the sturdy, rugged and cheerful pioneers, who continued their labors forward to better circumstances, so that succeeding generations hove profited from their sacrifices and hardships. Capt. Seth Harrington died in Groton Township when he was past eighty years of age. Ralph Harrington was only about five years of age when brought with other member of the family from Rhode Island to Erie County. They made that long and tedious journey by wagon and team and camped out along the roadside as night overtook them. A century ago Indians were almost as numerous in Northern Ohio as white settlers, and not infrequently they caused considerable trouble and anxiety to the pioneers, who, when threatened by an Indian incursion would gather together under the protection of an improvised fort or blockhouse. Ralph Harrington, like his father, was a man of industry and high standing in the community. His death was a serious loss to the township and was the more lamentable owning of the fact that he was killed accidentally. One day while the Civil war was being fought he rode a young colt to the Seven Mile House postoffice, called for his mail, and in attempting to mount his horse was unable to overcome its resistance and temper and was kicked to death. He was familiarly known as Squire Harrington, having served as a justice of the peace in Groton Township, and had also filled the office of trustee. During the battle fought by Commodore Perry with the English, he was asleep on a large stone, which still lies along the highway about a mile couth of the Harrington home, and when he awoke is said to have remarked: I heard someone singing. He was but a child then, and slumbered on the stone while other members of the family were gathering hay.
Capt. Jonathan F. Harrington grew up in a time when Erie County was still partly in a pioneer condition. He was reared on the home farm, and secured his educational training in some of the early schoolhouses familiarly known only to the oldest residents now living. After getting the advantages offered by the schools in Groton township he also spent one year attending school in Detroit, Michigan. Since early youth he has been studious, and few citizens of Groton Township have read more widely and have kept themselves better informed on all subjects of current interest. His vocation since early manhood has been that of farming, and soon after getting started in that vocation he went away to fight the battles of the Union. Captain Harrington enlisted in May, 1861, in Company A., of the Seventy-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and his first duty was in recurting the company for that regiment. And after getting its quota mustered in he took his place in the ranks of a private soldier. A years later he was made second lieutenant, and later promoted to first lieutenant, and during the last two years of his service was captain of the company. He continued in the war four years until his honorable discharge in September, 1865. Captain Harrington saw much of the arduous service in the Western armies, fought in the great battle of Shiloh, participated in the siege of Corinth and also in the campaign ending in the fall of Vicksburg. At the close of the war his regiment was stationed at Memphis, Tennessee, and after getting his honorable discharge he returned home to Groton Township and was soon applying himself with characteristic vigor to his business as a farmer.
On January 1, 1868, Captain Harrington married Miss Sarah E. McKesson, who also represents some of the pioneer stock of Erie County. Mrs. Harrington was born in Margaretta Township of Erie County, a daughter of James C. and Marietta (Prout) McKesson. Her father was born in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, and her mother was a native of Oneida County, New York. Mrs. Harrington's great-great-grandfather, Rev. John McKesson, was one of the pioneer clergymen and missionaries of the Presbyterian Church in America, and had received his education in the University of Edinburg, Scotland. The McKessons were among the very early settlers of Margaretta Township, and Mrs. Harrington's maternal ancestors, the Prouts, were equally early in their settlement of Oxford Township. Throught her mother Mrs. Harrington is a great-granddaughter of two Revolutionary soldiers, whose names were Prout and holt. Captain Harrington and wife became the parents of one daughter, Anna Marietta, now the widow of Joseph Goebes, who during his life followed farming in Groton Township. Mrs. Goebes has a daughter, Florence M., who was born June 23, 1909. In the public capacity Captain Harrington has served his home community several time as township trustee, also as clerk of the township, and has been a stanch republican since the beginning of that party, having come of age just about the time the first republican campaign was being waged in 1856. As a farmer he owns a highly improved and valuable place of 155 acres, devoted to general agricultural lines, and he has for many years represented the best ideals of country life. He is now vice president of the Erie County Agricultural Society, an office he has filled for number of years, and has likewise held the post of director in that organization. The family are well known socially throughout the township and county. Captain Harrington is also a member of the Union Veterans Corps, which formerly had its headquarters in Clyde, Ohio.
History of Erie County, Published 1916