ROBERT P. HUNTER, M.D., the oldest physician now engaged in practice at Leechburg, Armstrong county, has in the forty and more years of his residence in that community so thoroughly identified himself with the general welfare that he is recognized as one of the most public-spirited and prominent men there. He is at present representing his district in the State Legislature, has long been active in public life, has taken part in religious work and in all other movements for the moral uplift of his fellow men, and has been an influential factor for good whose impress cannot fail to be permanent.

Dr. Hunter was born in Blacklick township, Indiana Co., Pa., Jan.23, 1837, and his grandfather, Robert Hunter, was one of the pioneer settlers in that county. Robert Hunter was born in 1782 in Westmoreland county, Pa., and died in 1861 at Jacksonville, Indiana county, at the age of seventy-nine years. His wife, Mary (Lawrence), a native of New Jersey, was born in 1781 and died in 1868, at the age of seventy-seven. They were the parents of fourteen children, most of whom reached maturity.

John M. Hunter, son of Robert, was born June 12, 1807, in Indiana county, Pa., where he passed all his life, dying at Blairsville, March 28, 1868. He followed the trade of shoemaking for the most part, though during 1854 and 1855 he was engaged as a foreman on the Pennsylvania canal, of which his son-in-law, W. F. Boyer, was then superintendent. On May 30, 1830, he married Annie Reese Banks, who was born in Pennsylvania, Oct. 10, 1810, and died Aug. 16, 1875, at Leechburg, where she was living with her son. Mr. and Mrs. John M. Hunter had children as follows: Joshua Banks, born Nov. 5, 1832, who served in the Civil war; Mary A., born Oct. 23, 1835, now deceased, who was married in 1855 to W. F. boyer; Robert P.; William I., born Sept. 29, 1839, who is deceased; Flia M., born Aug. 16, 1842, who married Dr. W. H. Kern, of McKeesport, Pa.; Morgan R., horn April 4, 1844, who served as a soldier in the Civil war; Dr. John A., born Aug. 20, 1846, who was elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature on the Republican ticket (lower house) in 1874 and died shortly afterward (he was a soldier in the Civil war, and J. A. Hunter Post, No. 123, G. A. R., of Leechburg, was named in his honor, Dr. Hunter having been a very well-known and highly respected man); Dr. Milton C., born Aug. 7, 1850; J. Irwin, born June 19, 1852.

Robert P. Hunter attended the schools of the locality in which he was reared, and in his young manhood taught school for five years during the winter terms. For two years he was employed on the Pennsylvania canal under his father In 1862 he began the study of medicine with his uncle, Dr. M. R. Banks, of Livermore, Pa., and in 1864 began to attend lectures at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. He began practice before finishing his course, on May 9, 1865, opening an office at Leechburg, where he practiced four years before he was able to complete his studies. He had devoted all his surplus to the furtherance of his preparation for practice and finished the full course at Jefferson Medical College, graduating with high standing March 13, 1869. He has been located at Leechburg ever since, and has been highly successful in his professional work, winning and retaining the confidence of a large patronage. He has taken advantage of his wide acquaintanceship throughout this territory to exercise his influence for good whenever possible, and though busy with his practice has found time for other things he con siders just as necessary to a useful life among his fellow men. He has always shown his willingness to support any good movement started in the locality, and thus his interests have been very diversified. He was among the first-in 1878-to bring shorthorn cattle to Armstrong county, giving the farmers the benefit of improved stock. He has long been an ardent Prohibitionist, and on June 29, 1882, was made president of the Armstrong County Prohibitory Amendment Association, a temperance organization which met in Kittanning upon that date. In 1873, he was one of the organizers of the Leechburg Bank, and served as one of its directors until 1880. For two terms he served as chief burgess of Leechburg, and in 1911 he was elected to represent his district in the State Legislature; he is taking an active part in the work of that body, serving upon the committees on Congressional Apportionment, Counties and Townships, Railroads, Ways and Means, Educational, Retrenchment and Reform. For twenty years he was a member of the Leechburg school board, during most of that period being president, and it was during his incumbency that a fine high school was erected. Dr. Hunter was one of the organizers of the Apollo pension board, became its first president, and has continued to hold that position to the present time. He is serving as a trustee of the Soldiers and Sailors' Home at Erie, Pennsylvania.

On Dec. 29, 1875, the Doctor received a commission from Governor Hartranft as surgeon in chief on Gen. Harry White's staff, 9th Division, National Guard of Pennsylvania, and served in that capacity during the Pittsburgh railroad and labor riots.

Dr. Hunter is a leading member of the Presbyterian Church at Leechburg, of which he has been an elder many years. He served a long period as superintendent of the Sunday school. In 1887, he was a delegate from the Kittanning Presbytery to the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church which met in Omaha, Nebr. In 1863, he was made a Mason in Loyalhanna lodge, No. 275, F. & A. M., of Latrobe, and now holds membership in Leechburg Lodge, No. 577, of which he is a past master; he is also a member of Orient Chapter, R. A. M., at Kittanning.

On May 18, 1875, Dr. Hunter was married to Rebecca Hill, who was born in Armstrong county, June 30, 1853, daughter of Daniel and Eliza (Kuhns) Hill. They have had the following children: John A., born June 18, 1876, died May 27, 1892; Lida A., born Jan. 10, 1878, died Nov. 2, 1897; Robert K., born Oct. 19, 1879, graduated from the Leechburg high school, took a business course at Clarion, Pa., and is now in the government employ at Freeport, Pa.; Marion D., graduated from the Leechburg high school and later studied at the Lake Erie Seminary, a school for girls.

Source: Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed September 2001 by Laurel Morris for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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