As a leading citizen of Springfield, in its professional, business and social life, lending eminent strength to her bar, to her finance and grace to her society, A. Harrington commands attention from the historian who would wish to do the city justice. He is one of the ablest of attorneys, and has few, if any, peers in his comprehensive knowledge of State and International law, and has conducted many cases to a successful issue. While a born orator he does not solely rely upon the rhetorical finish of his sentences, upon his fervid declamation or upon his rich imagery, but he has a substantial foundation upon which to build, and the result is not only charming to mental sensibility but convincing to the reason of his hearers.
Mr. Harrington was born in Greene County, Missouri, December 25, 1849, and soon after his parents moved to Springfield, that county. When little more than an infant he was left motherless, and was reared by his father with the help of an old Negro cook. While but a boy his father died, and he was left to fight his own battles in life. When but ten years of age he went to live on the old home place of his parents, nine miles west of Springfield, and after remaining there for some time with a brother he wandered off to make his own way in life. He worked for some time on a farm, but later was in the Massic Iron Works in Missouri, where he remained until the spring of 1861. Although only thirteen years of age at the breaking out of the war, when he heard the fife and drum of Sigel’s command his patriotism was aroused, and on the last of June of that year he enlisted for three months. August 25 of the same year he reenlisted in the Twenty-fourth Missouri Volunteer Infantry and served three years and two months, being mustered out October 14, 1864. He fought bravely for the old flag and participated in a number of the most important engagements, among them Tupelo, Carthage, Pleasant Hill, Vicksburg, fall of Ft. Durance, etc., and to this day carries scars from wounds received in those fierce engagements. He still suffers from these wounds, too. Although so very young when he entered the army, Mr. Harrington was patriotic and loyal to the heart’s core and was an excellent soldier. He now has in his possession a letter written him by Gen. Sigel in 1885. After cessation of hostilities he returned to Springfield and followed farming in the vicinity of that city for some time. He was married to Miss Nancy M. Merritt, daughter of Nathan Merritt, and as he had never attended school a day in his life, he learned to read and write while his family grew up around him. In 1876 he commenced reading law at his home fireside and in 1879 was admitted to the bar. It is said that poets are born, not made, and so are orators, and among those who are wayers of the human emotions by the right of natural inheritance must be classed this able criminal lawyer of Springfield. He combines with his forensic genius the talent of painstaking and accurate analysis and careful arrangement of facts in almost impenetrable order and solidity, a talent which not all orators have. In 1880 he made a race for prosecuting attorney of Christian County but was defeated by a small majority. Later he moved to Ozark, opened a law office, and was elected to the office of prosecuting attorney on the Greenback ticket by an overwhelming majority. For two years he filled that position and continued practicing law in Ozark until 1888, when he moved to Springfield. For some time he was a partner with George Pepperdine, another prominent criminal lawyer of the city, but since November 24, 1890, he has carried on the practice alone. He has had a great many murder cases, and in fact has been identified with all the important cases in the county. He is a member of the I. O. O. F., Findley Lodge No. 156, Ozark, and a member of the G. A. R. post. The following named children have been born to his marriage: M. J. became the wife of William Stevens, of Springfield; William married Miss Belle Thomas and resides on a farm near his father; W. P. died when three years of age; Mary E., Leithe E., Almus C., L. C. and Ray F. All the family attend the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Harrington has ever taken a deep interest in politics and his vote was cast with the Republican party until the formation of the Greenback party, to which he has adhered since.