Member Biography

John Christian Kunkel 


09/18/1816 - 10/14/1870

John Christian Kunkel (Whig8) Dauphin and Northumberland Counties 1851-1854

Early Life:

John Christian Kunkel, born September 18, 1816, Harrisburg, Dauphin County Pennsylvania; son of George and Catharine née Ziegler Kunkel; common schools of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Jefferson College, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania (later Washington and Jefferson College, Washington), 1839; Dickinson College, 1842; admitted, Dauphin County bar, 1842; elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1845-1846; elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1851; elected, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1852-1854, elected, Speaker of the Senate, April 19, 1853; elected, United States Congress, 1855-1859, not a candidate for reelection, 1859; married, Elizabeth C. Rutherford, 1859, three children; died, October 14, 1870, Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania; interment, Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, Dauphin County, 1845-1846.

Elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, Dauphin County, 1851.

Elected Pennsylvania State Senate, 8th district, Dauphin and Northumberland Counties, 1852-1854; Judiciary Committee (Chairman) three years of his term; elected, Speaker for one day, April 19, 1853, resignation, Thomas Carson, Speaker the day prior; left office May 9, 1854.

Continued Government Service/National Politics: 

Elected, Opposition Party, United States House of Representatives, Thirty-fourth Congress, 1855-1857; chairman, Committee on Militia; reelected, Republican, United States House of Representatives, Thirty-fifth Congress, 1857-1859.

Official Website - PA House Archives Official Website (


The Honorable John Christian Kunkel returned to Harrisburg after political life and resumed practicing law. 

Grandson, John Crain Kunkel (1898- 1970), United States House of Representatives nine terms, 1939-1951 and 1961–1966, Dauphin, Cumberland, Lebanon, Perry, and Juniata counties. Dauphin County Commissioner, 1952-1956, helped establish the Harrisburg International Airport, Middletown, Penn State Harrisburg Campus, Middletown. Due to his philanthropic and humanitarian service to the Harrisburg area community, a Foundation was established in his name, as well as an elementary school in Middletown, Pennsylvania. John Crain Kunkel Foundation


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members K"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

John Christian Kunkel (1816-1870) - Find a Grave Memorial


Congressional Biography

After 4 session(s) serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, John Christian Kunkel  went on to serve in congress