Harry Edwin Buffington, attorney-at-law, Lykens, Pennsylvania, was born at Lykens, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, 2 May 1867. He is a son of George W. Buffington and Susanna [Lenker] Buffington. He was educated in the Lykens district school. At nine years of age, he began to work in the mines. His first job was picking slate in the breaker of the Big Lick mines for two years. He then worked for Edward Martin on a farm in Washington Township for one year, after which he returned to Lykens and worked in the Short Mountain Coal Mines. When fourteen years old he drove a team, hauling coal and freight. In the fall of 1883 he learned tailoring with William H. Smith, at Lykens. In the meantime he devoted his leisure hours to study. In this way he continued working and educating himself, until he had saved $50. With this sum he was enabled, by boarding himself, to spend three months in the public school of Lykens. For the remaining nine months of the year he worked, until in the following year spent three months more in Lykens High School, after which he attended the Berrysburg Seminary for two terms, and in the fall of 1887 entered the preparatory school at Waynesboro College, Green County, Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1888 Mr. Buffington was compelled to leave college for want of means. He worked at the tailor trade, and earned and saved money enough to pay his expenses at college the next year. Thereafter he paid his way by selling Dr. Chase’s Receipt Book in vacations. While at college he was the recognized leader, and was regarded by teachers and students as a diligent worker. He completed the six years’ classical course in less than four years, and was graduated from college in the class of 1891 with the first honors of the class, being the first student east of the Allegheny Mountains to take the honors of Waynesboro College.
For two years Mr. Buffington studied law in the office of J. C. McAlarney, and was admitted to the Dauphin County bar in 1893 at Harrisburg. He at once opened a law office in Lykens, and succeeded in building up an extensive practice in Dauphin and adjoining counties. His politics are Republican. He takes an active interest in the P.O.S. of A., and composed a funeral ode for the order.
THE MURDER OF BENJAMIN ZEIDERS
Harry Edwin Buffington, though a young man, was engaged as the leading counsel for the defense in the celebrated Zeiders murder trial, 9 March 1896, at Pottsville. The trial came to a sudden termination in one day by the peculiarly shrewd and keenly penetrating cross-examination of the young practitioner. Frank Adams, Isaac Bendigo, and Charles Bendigo, of Reiner City, Schuylkill County, were indicted for the murder of Benjamin Zeiders, an aged huckster, from Perry County, who, on Christmas night of 1895, had his scull crushed in by a stone shortly after a quarrel. Zeiders lingered unconscious for eight days and died without recovering consciousness, considerable pus having formed on the brain beneath the wound. A post-mortem examination also revealed marked symptoms of pneumonia, three-fourths of one lung being inflamed. Young Buffington “took the cue,” and by a long and extensive research on the diseases of the brain and lungs, framed an elaborate and ingenious defense. The Commonwealth trustingly relied on the testimony of three head physicians to prove the corpus delicto. The first unsuspecting physician gave damaging testimony on direct examination. But Buffington met him with such a hot fire of technical cross-examination and medical authorities as to completely break up the Commonwealth’s case and to establish the theory of the defense. The two other expert witnesses of the Commonwealth followed the defendant’s pneumonia theory and a verdict of “Not guilty” was rendered without the jury’s leaving the box. Frank Adams, however, was detained on the same indictment, and a verdict of simple assault and battery was rendered against him. The defendant was admitted to bail, and the case appealed to the Superior Court, before which Mr. Buffington made the chief argument. Mr. W. J. Whitehouse was associate counsel. A decision has not been rendered. [Note: The Harrisburg Telegraph of 21 July 1896 reported that “H. E. Buffington… wins his first case against the Superior Court. Frank Adams is once more a free man….”].
Harry E. Buffington was married at Tower City, 17 June 1896, to Miss Elizabeth A. Wilson, daughter of Dr. R. B. Wilson and Annie [Mathias] Wilson, of Tower City. Mr. Buffington is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
The career of Mr. Buffington shows how a young man with noble aspirations can win his way through all difficulties to an honorable position and qualify himself for influence and usefulness.
The family name is English. The first English child born in Pennsylvania was a Buffington. George Buffington, great-grandfather of Harry E. Buffington, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in February 1759, and was a son of Benjamin Buffington, also a native of the state. In 1783, George Buffington married Barbara Hoffman, and had eleven children; the fifth of these was George Buffington Jr., grandfather of Harry E. Buffington. The parents, George Buffington and Barbara [Hoffman] Buffington, both died in Pennsylvania.
George Buffington Jr., was born 10 May 1795 in Lykens Valley. He was a miller, and lost his mill, which cost him $7000, by a cyclone which passed over the valley in 1855. He married Catherine Yeager, of German descent, born in Lykens Valley. Their children were twelve in number. They were: Cyrus Buffington, born 30 December 1821; Amanda Buffington, 28 May 1824, is deceased; Elias Buffington,23 December 1825; John G. Buffington, 31 January 1828, died 27 July 1884; Henrietta Buffington, born 9 September 1930, died 22 May 1832; George W. Buffington, born 23 December 1832, died 26 January 1871; Catherine Buffington, born 3 November 1834; Elizabeth Buffington, born 3 December 1836; Leah Buffington, born 23 December 1838; Jeremiah Buffington, born 23 November 1840, died 14 November 1843; Peter Buffington, born 11 April 1843, died at the age of seventeen; Aaron Buffington, born about 1846, died aged eighteen. The father died in Lykens Valley. He was a Whig and a member of the Reformed Church.
His sixth child, George W. Buffington, was the father of Harry E. Buffington, and was born in Lykens Valley. He was a distiller and a contractor for hauling logs and timber to the mines. His wife, Susanna Lenker, was the daughter of Lewis Lenker, farmer, of Dauphin County. Their children are: Harvey C. Buffington, who died young; Charles F. Buffington, who resides in Colorado; Benjamin F. Buffington, tailor, residing in Indiana, and Harry E. Buffington. Mr. George W. Buffington was a Republican, and was a member of the Reformed Church.
The above information was modified/edited from Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County, published in 1896 by J. M. Runk and Company of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. A free download is available from the Internet Archive.