John Augustus Fritchey

John Augustus Fritchey, M.D. (September 25, 1857 - August 25, 1916) was an American physician and politician, who served three terms as Mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

John Augustus Fritchey
Mayor of Harrisburg
In office
Preceded bySamuel W. Fleming
Succeeded byMaurice C. Eby
Mayor of Harrisburg
In office
Preceded byJohn D. Patterson
Succeeded byVance C. McCormick
Personal details
John Augustus Fritchey

September 25, 1857
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 25, 1916 (58 years old)
Resting placeHarrisburg Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Formative years


Born on September 25, 1857, Fritchey was a son of a middle-class butcher. He attended the Harrisburg Academy and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.



Endorsed by the Harrisburg Patriot during the 1887 Harrisburg Mayoral Race, he was initially hailed as a "young man of ability and integrity". From his first term, he established the Harrisburg Bureau of Police and ambulance services, but was reported as extorting speakeasies, gambling houses and brothels for police protection, and was subsequently was held responsible when an audit determined that the city government was missing funds.

When Mira Lloyd Dock presented her ideas for the City Beautiful movement, he showed tepid support, leading J. Horace McFarland to refer to him as "the unspeakable Fritchey."[1] Despite private feuds, Fritchey was popular amongst all classes, including the largely Republican city at the time; he won his third reelection by a large majority.[2]

Fritchey was also elected multiple times as chairman for The Dauphin County Democratic Committee and was considered well known in national and state politics.[3][4]

As a practicing physician, he was notable for providing abortions at a time when they were illegal in the commonwealth; women from out of town would ride the train into Harrisburg to receive the procedures in secrecy.


  1. ^ "The "Unspeakable" Fritchey: Corruption in Harrisburg? Eh, nothing new". TheBurg. 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  2. ^ "Dr. John A. Fritchey". Defiance Democrat. 2 March 1899. p. 8. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  3. ^ "Dr. John A. Fritchey". Chicago Examiner. 26 August 1916. p. 15. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Democratic Chairman Re-elected". The Philadelphia Record. 2 April 1901. Retrieved 29 August 2021.