Henry H. Harper

HENRY H. HARPER was born in Marion County, Missouri, June 9, 1843, and made his home there until after the war. In 1871, with his wife and child, he drove to Kansas in a wagon, and after many and varied experiences arrived at his destination, where he purchased 80 acres of "Joy" land from the railroad in section 12, township 33, range 22, in Lola township. There were only a few pole houses in the vicinity and between his farm and Columbus. The country being so new, there were no roads, and when starting out across the prairie, one could take any direction, or make a short cut, to suit his convenience. Rattlesnakes abounded and Mr. Harper killed numbers of them. Out in this seeming wilderness of prairie, a box house, 12 by 14 feet in size, was erected, and the family took possession, glad to leave the camp life in the wagon, and be in more comfortable quarters. Here they lived until 10 years ago, when the new dwelling, a substantial farm house, was completed, and they moved once more, this time into the comfortable home where they now reside. Good outbuildings and fences here bespeak he thrifty farmer.

Columbus was a convenient market, and there also the farmers got their mail. One drawback was experienced in the chills and malarial fever that were prevalent, and the family with the exception of Mr. Harper, suffered in consequence.

During the war Mr. Harper saw active service as a member of the 1st Reg., Missouri National Guards, in which he enlisted in Lewis County. He served under many prominent leaders, among them being Col. Moses E. Green, and Lieut.-Col. Joseph Porter, of the Confederacy. He was in many skirmishes, the most important being at Athens and Lexington, Missouri, under General Price. After the battle of Pea Ridge, he was discharged on account of ill health. One of his experiences during the war was a two-months' imprisonment in a Federal prison in St. Louis, with three others; he escaped by jumping from an upper window. After the war he spent some time in Quincy, Illinois, before migrating to Kansas.

Mr. Harper is a member of the Christian Church and is active in church work. In politics, he was a follower of Cleveland, and later has been a champion of Bryan. He served two terms as deputy sheriff under J. C. Babb.

The Harpers, who are of English descent, came to America in colonial times. The grandfather of Mr. Harper was a slaveholder, and at one time sold 10 slaves in order to pay a security debt. He died one year, after going to Missouri, leaving a widow and 14 children, and many slaves. The grandmother died in Quincy, Illinois, during the Civil War, at the age of 90. She was born in North Carolina, was of German descent, and became one of Kentucky's pioneers. Among her varied experiences was that of flying to forts for refuge when the Indians made their raids. At one time, in company with a sister, she was captured and held seven years by the Indians.

George Washington Harper, the father of Henry H., was a native of Bourbon County, Kentucky, where he died at the age of 67 years. He was a veteran of the "Florida War," where one of the greatest battles against the Indians was fought, and many brave officers were killed. Missouri found him among her settlers when she entered the Union as a State. The mother of Henry H. Harper, Martha Gassaway, was born in Kentucky, between Lexington and Frankfort, and was the youngest of a large family of children. She died in Lewis County, Missouri, at the age of 55 years. She had seven children, four of whom lived to maturity, namely: Henry H.; William, of East St. Louis, Ilinois[sic]; Mrs. Mary A. Zimmerman, of Lewis County, Missouri; and George W., who died at Hot Springs, Arkansas. George W. Harper was principal of schools at Galena, Kansas, for many years.

On February 21, 1864, Henry H. Harper was married to Mary E. Rardon, a native of Missouri, who died there July 16, 1865, leaving one child, Mrs. Lizzie Lee, of Hannibal, Missouri. The children of a second marriage, in 1869, to Arminda Blair, of Missouri, are George, who resides at home, is married and has one child; and Martha A. and Mary W., also living at home.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 3/11/97.


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Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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