Biography of Thomas M. Harkness
North Central Ohio Biographies

Thomas M. Harkness. Among the leading business men of Ashland is Thomas M. Harkness, who is identified with the Harkness & Leed Insurance Agency. He was born at Knoxville, Ill., Sept 12, 1863, the son of Horace H. and Nancy (Campbell) Harkness.

Horace H. Harkness was born in Ohio in 1829, and his wife was born in Orange Township, Ashland County, Jan. 16, 1827. Throughout his life he followed the trade of a harnessmaker and lived at Nankin. He died Jan. 17, 1911, and his wife died in 1867. Both are buried at Nankin. They were the parents of four children: Dora Jane, born Aug. 27, 1854, lives at Nankin; Samantha Ann, born April 26, 1859, died Aug. 7, 1862; Thomas M., the subject of this sketch; and Barton C., born June 3, 1873. The latter is a half brother of Thomas M. Harkness.

The boyhood of Thomas M. Harkness was spent at Nankin, where he was educated. He was employed by Irvin Stentz, of Nankin, who was a dealer in produce, and in 1887 went to Mansfield, where he spent a year in business. He then came to Ashland and for seven years was a clerk in the Freer Brothers Clothing Store. Later he was associated with the dry goods business of Kunkel & Good, and spent eight years as assistant postmaster of Ashland under Clifton G. Ducomb. In May, 1916, Mr. Harkness became interested in the fire insurance business, at that time having purchased the agency of A. G. Beers, on West Main Street. He removed to his present location in the Myers Building in 1913, and since 1924 has been associated with Earl E. Leed, as operators of the Harkness & Leed Insurance Agency. They handle all types of insurance. In 1909 Mr. Harkness produced the largest amount of live stock insurance in the State of Ohio for that year, and in the following year was given supervision of 27 counties in Northeastern Ohio. When the Hartford Live Stock Insurance Company took over the interests of the Indiana and Ohio Live Stock Insurance Company in 1916, Mr. Harkness was made State Agent in Ohio. In 1923 he was also made State Agent of Michigan. Mr. Leeds is in charge of the local interests of the agency.

On Aug. 22, 1894, Mr. Harkness was married (first) to Miss Blanche Kunkel, who died in Ashland, April 26, 1922. She was the daughter of Christian and Margaret (Jackson) Kunkel, who were natives of Knox and Ashland counties respectively. Mr. Kunkel died in 1927, and his wife died in 1920. Both are buried in Ashland. Mr. and Mrs. Harkness had no children.

Mr. Harkness was married (second) March 26, 1925, to Alene (Smith) Fluke, of Ashland, the daughter of George B. and Jessie (Southerland) Smith. The former is deceased and the latter lives in Ashland.

Politically, Mr. Harkness is a Republican. His wife holds membership in the Presbyterian Church and he belongs to the Knights of Pythias, and Chamber of Commerce. He was an active member of the old Ashland Board of Trade, and was acting secretary when the Faultless Rubber Co. located in Ashland.

History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931

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