John Franklin Farnsworth (1820 - 1897)

‹ Back to Farnsworth surname



0 11 3
Adds mother, more complete birth place, death place, story and sibling(s).

View John Franklin Farnsworth's complete profile:

  • See if you are related to John Franklin Farnsworth
  • Request to view John Franklin Farnsworth's family tree


Birthplace: Eaton, Canada
Death: Died
Managed by: Doug Robinson
Last Updated:

About John Franklin Farnsworth

John Franklin Farnsworth (March 27, 1820 – July 14, 1897) was a seven-term U.S. Representative from Illinois and a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.


Farnsworth was born in Eaton, Canada, but moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan as a young adult. Admitted to the bar in 1841, he moved to St. Charles, Illinois and established a private law practice. About 1852, he moved to Chicago and was active in the local political scene as a Democrat. Switching parties (partially due to his abolitionist views), he was elected as a Republican to Congress for two terms (1857–61). He was unsuccessful in gaining the party's nomination for a third term.

Early in the Civil War, Farnsworth organized the 8th Illinois Cavalry at President Abraham Lincoln's direction and was commissioned as its first colonel. Through his political influence, he was able to help secure a lieutenant's commission for his 24-year-old nephew Elon John Farnsworth, who was destined to die at the Battle of Gettysburg. John Farnsworth also was instrumental in raising the 17th Illinois. He led the 8th Illinois Cavalry during the Peninsula Campaign, seeing his first action at the Battle of Williamsburg, then during the Seven Days Battles.

In September 1862, Farnsworth led a cavalry brigade in the Army of the Potomac during the Maryland Campaign, sparring with Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart and Wade Hampton in a series of minor engagements near South Mountain and Middletown, Maryland. He became a brigadier general of volunteers on December 5, 1862. He resigned his commission in March 1863 to resume his duties as a congressman (this time from the district including St. Charles), serving until 1873. He was a member of the Committee on Post Office and Post Roads.

Farnsworth was closely aligned with the Radical Republicans and a strong supporter of their extreme Reconstruction policies. He voted in favor of the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. He was defeated for renomination in 1872 as the political climate had shifted towards more moderation. Being beaten again two years later in yet another attempt (this time as a Democrat), he resumed practicing law in Chicago. He moved to Washington, D.C. in 1880 and continued as an attorney until his death. Farnsworth was interred in North Cemetery in St. Charles.

view all

Gen. John F. Farnsworth (USA) US Congress's Timeline

March 27, 1820
Eaton, Canada
Age 34
Saint Charles Kane County Illinois
July 14, 1897
Age 77
North Cemetery Saint Charles Kane County Illinois