John Furnish, one of the prominent and highly respected citizens of Mill township, Grant county, Indiana, was born October 17, 1838, in what is now known as Fairmount township, Grant county, and is a son of James and Nancy (Higgins) Furnish, parents of four children, born in the following order: John whose name, opens this paragraph; Tamar Jane, deceased; Frances Q., widow of John Hinton; and Martha James, deceased.
James Furnish, father of the above named children, was born in Kentucky, and in 1818 came to Indiana and located in Franklin county, where he lived until 1837. He next lived in Jefferson township, Grant county, one year; and then moved to the township in which his son John was born, settled on a farm entered from the government by his father, Benjamin W. Furnish, judge of the probate court in an early day. The father of Benjamin W. was a soldier in the war of the Revolution, and the maternal grandfather, John Higgins, was captain of a company in the war of 1812. Milton Furnish, an uncle of John Furnish, fought through the Mexican War, and Mrs. John Furnish's great-grandfather and grandfather, John Garrison and Benjamin Havens, were also soldiers in the war of 1812, military ardor seemingly being an inherent essential in the nature of each family, paternal and maternal.
John Furnish was about six years of age when he lost his parents and was taken by his paternal grandfather to be reared. John assisted on his grandfather's farm until fifteen years old, and then began to learn the carpenter's trade, at which he worked five years, and then, at the age of twenty, rented his grandfather's old farm, which he cultivated until the spring of 1861, when he removed to another farm in Fairmount township.
August 6, 1861, John Furnish enlisted in Company F, Thirty-fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered in at Anderson, Indiana, and assigned to General Buell's command. Later he was transferred to the Second Brigade, Third Division, Thirteenth Army Corps. His first engagement was at New Madrid, Missouri, but he later fought at Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, siege of Vicksburg (as a sapper and miner), and Carrion Crow Bayou, his last engagement taking place in March, 1863. While in camp at Algiers (opposite New Orleans, on the Mississippi river), in February, 1864, Mr. Furnish was wounded by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of a comrade, the result being the amputation of the left arm at the shoulder, the operation taking place at the New Orleans University Hospital March 11, 1864, when he was honorably discharged.
On his return to Grant county, the same year, John Furnish was elected the assessor of Fairmount township, and in the spring of 1863 he entered Purdy University or Business College, at Indianapolis, was graduated and returned to Fairmount township, where he taught school from 1865 to 1867. Mr. Furnish then served twelve months as deputy sheriff under Alexander Buchanan, and was appointed, the next year, deputy auditor under William Neal, which position he filled three years; from 1869 to 1872 he served as sergeant-at-arms in the state senate of Indiana; in 1870 was census enumerator for Grant county, and then moved to Delaware county, served as deputy auditor under Abraham J. Buckles for four years, and in 1875 moved to and lived on a farm in Delaware county two years; he next bought a farm in Montgomery county, Kansas, on which he lived until the fall of 1878, when he was elected township clerk for two years, but in 1879 moved to Wichita, Kansas, where for a few months he conducted a hotel, then sold out, but continued his residence there for two years; he then went to Kingman county and entered one hundred and sixty acres of land, on which he lived until 1889, and while there served as doorkeeper of the house of representatives from 1885 to 1887, and was also railroad commissioner in 1887.
In 1890 Mr. Furnish returned to and settled in Jonesboro, Mill township, Grant county, Indiana, where he is now living in quiet retirement. It was in this town that John Furnish married, December 29, 1859, Martha J. Garrison, a native of the town, and a daughter of Reuben and Levina (Havens) Garrison, and this union has been blessed with five children, viz.: James W., Nancy A., Minnie B., Reuben S. and Thomas G.
Mr. Furnish has been an Odd Fellow since 1865, and is also a member of Magnolia Post, G. A. R., of Jonesboro. The Furnish family is one of the most highly respected in Mill township. and all are honored for their individual merits.
Benjamin F. Furnish, and uncle of John Furnish, was drafted into the United States service during the Civil war and served one year, and while traveling by railroad was injured and was soon afterward discharged from service.
Mrs. Furnish also had two brothers that enlisted in the Civil War, John and Henry W. John was a member of Company F, Thirty-fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and died in the service; and Henry W. was a member of Company A, Eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and served four years and four months, and is now a resident of Jefferson township, Grant County.
Biographical Memoirs of Grant County, Indiana (Chicago: The Bowen Publishing Company, 1901), 1884-86.
Submitted by: Victor Paul Furnish