Samuel Agnew (1777-1849)

Samuel Agnew

Samuel Agnew was born August 10, 1777 in Millerstown, near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the son of James and Mary Ramsey Agnew. He studied first under the Rev. Matthew Dobbin near his home and then entered Dickinson College in Carlisle. He graduated with the class of 1798 and began studies in medicine with the prominent Franklin County doctor John McClelland of Greencastle. He then went on to Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania receiving his medical degree in 1800.

Agnew returned to Gettysburg to open a practice but moved to Harrisburg in 1807. His long career as a respected practitioner in that city gave him the opportunity to publish in the scientific literature of the day and maintain his contacts with Philadelphia. He served as a surgeon in the War of 1812 between 1812 and 1814 and returned to Harrisburg when his service was over.

Agnew remained an active Presbyterian all his life; he served as Elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg for fifteen years, worked for temperance, and was elected a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He also was elected to the board of trustees of Dickinson College, serving from 1827 to 1832.

Agnew married Jane Holmes Grier of Carlisle in 1803 and the couple had six children, four of whom survived childhood. One of his sons, James Holmes Agnew, graduated with the Dickinson class of 1823 and became a minister and one of his daughters married John Robinson Agnew, no relation, who graduated with the Dickinson class of 1829 and also worked in the Presbyterian Church; still another son became a judge in Missouri. Samuel Agnew died in Harrisburg on November 12, 1849. He was seventy-two years old.

Image citation:  Alfred Nevin, Men of Mark of Cumberland Valley, PA. 1776-1876 (Philadelphia: Fulton Publishing Company, 1876), 27.

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Dickinson College Archives
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