John Peter Gingrich, of Burlington, Iowa, now leading a retired life at his pleasant home, 1720 South Street, was born in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania, in June, 1826, a son of Jacob and Catherine (Miller) Gingrich. He was educated in the common schools of his native State, and his father being a captain and owner of a freight boat on the canal, he also entered that employment, at which he was engaged from the age of nine years to his eighteenth year. He then began working on a farm, so continuing until 1862, when, on September 12, he enlisted at Harrisburg, Pa., in Company E, Seventeenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and served until July 5, 1865, when he received honorable discharge at the city of Cincinnati. Mr. Gingrich was a member of the Army of the Potomac, and was in battle shortly after enlistment, the occasion being an attack by the Confederate forces near Washington. The attack was sudden, and he accompanying his captain in a hasty rush to the skirmish line, the officer made his way along a small valley, while Mr. Gingrich took the higher ground, and being visible to all the hostile forces scattered over a vast expanse of surrounding country, became the central target of a heavy musket fire. Hundreds of bullets whistled and hummed about his ears, but he arrived at the scene of action untouched. Afterward he took part in the attack on Washington which was led by Early, the Southern general, and in many other skirmishes and fierce engagements, but received no wound. He was one of the body guard of Abraham Lincoln at Washington, D. C., for six months acting as guard during Lincoln's trips in the country, where he spent many nights.
Mr. Gingrich has been twice married, first to Miss Mary Ann Galbach, daughter of Gabriel and Marian (Marquardt) Galbach. Mrs. Gingrich died in 1861, survived by one child, Clara Ann. On Dec. 17, 1868, he wedded Miss Margaret Applegate, daughter of Robert and Rebecca (McMonigle) Applegate, and to them have been born four children, as follows: Elizabeth; Ida; Coretta, wife of Andrew Phillip Mesmer; and Minnie May, wife of Emil Zimmer; Mary Ada died at age of one year and nine months.
Mrs. Gingrich was born in Brown county, Ohio, April 19, 1836, and removed with her parents to Burlington in 1848. Her father, who was by trade a cooper, and also did farming, died May 15, 1852, and her mother March 27, 1852, both aged forty-two years. Mrs. Gingrich had a brother, Andrew, who enlisted at Keokuk in the Civil War in the Second Iowa Infantry. He was in the battle of Corinth and with Sherman on his grand "march to the sea." After serving to the end of the war, he was honorably discharged. Mr. Applegate used to be pilot on the Mississippi, but later passed away. The name of John Peter Gingrich is one to which high honor attaches for his faithful service to the nation in time of her peril, and for duty conscientiously performed in days of peace.