Philander L. Harper
CRAMER, DIXON, EVANS, HARPER, LAVELLE SIGLER, STEWART
Posted By: Deborah Brownfield - Stanley (email)
Date: 11/12/2005 at 09:59:50
A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and New York
PHILANDER L. HARPER, retired banker living at Chariton, is a native son of
Iowa, and a citizen of whom the state may well be proud, because of his career
as a business man and citizen with a rich and varied experience and a long
record of constructive activities both in his home state and in the adjoining
State of Nebraska.
Mr. Harper seems to have inherited the instincts of the pioneer, the urge to
explore new countries, and help carry on the work of civilization, the founding of new communities. In a way he had some satisfaction of these instincts in Iowa, but more so in Western Nebraska, where he is still remembered as a
town builder and one of the outstanding men of prominence in Lincoln County.
Mr. Harper was born at Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa, February 20, 1852, son of John W. and Salina(Dixon)Harper. His parents grew up near Crawfordsville, Indiana. The Dixon family came originally from Kennett Square, Chester County, Pennsylvania. John W. Harper in 1848 established his home at Knoxville, Iowa, and was a merchant in that town until his death in 1855. His widow survived him many years and passed away at the age of seventy-one, while
visiting her daughter at Portland, Oregon.
In 1861, when Mr. Harper was nine years old, his mother settled on a large
farm near Osceola in Clarke County, Iowa. Through this region passed the
great emigration bound for the western states and territories, and furnishing
supplies to stock shippers and westward bound emigrants was a very important
part of local commerce, and it was through a working connection with these
interests that Philander L. Harper acquired his fundamental business training, a
knowledge that proved of increasing value to him in his later years.
At an early age was impressed upon him the significance of the growing West. In 1867, when he was about fifteen years old, he rode out over the country on horseback to the place that later became Corning, Iowa. He recalls his thoughts as he rode over this high country, covered with tall, wild grass. He endeavored to vision for himself the future, wondering if he would ever live to see this district under cultivation and improved with farms and village communities. As a matter of fact it was not many years before this anticipation was realized, and in its realization he had the personal satisfaction of knowing that he had helped bring about the upbuilding of Corning as a thriving little city. Mr. Harper had completed his education in the public schools at Osceola in 1868 and then graduated from the Bryant and Stratton Business College at Burlington. Returning to Corning, he was associated with his brother-in-law, Mr. Sigler, in the mercantile business, and after a few months he assisted Mr. Sigler in organizing the Bank of Corning, and became cashier of that bank, which for a number of years was the only banking institution in
Adams County. He held that position for ten years, ill health finally compelling him to give up his duties as a banker in the fall of 1879. He then moved to a large farm near Osceola, where he and his mother owned a section of land, operating it as a stock farm. During the next four years he lived outdoors and took part in a rather strenuous program as a farmer and stock man, and in the fall of 1883 moved into Osceola and for two years was engaged in a horse and cattle business, shipping stock in all directions.
In 1886 Mr. Harper transferred his active interests from Southern Iowa to
what was then a thoroughly typical western community, Lincoln County, Nebraska.
As an associate member of the Lincoln Land Company he established the town
of Wallance and also founded the Wallace Security Bank of Wallace, Nebraska.
Following the panic of 1893 he liquidated the Wallance Security Bank by
paying the depositors in full and surrendering its charter to the banking board,
after which he established the Citizens Security Bank of Wallace and served
as its president, while Z. S. Harper was vice president. The history of this
thriving and progressive Nebraska community could not well be written without
repeated references to Mr. Harper's activities and influence. In addition to
being the leading banker, he established, in 1895, the Wallace Elevator
Company, and for over forty years has been interested in farming and ranching
lands in that vicinity. Some of his lands are located in Perkins County,
Nebraska. For many years he gave his personal supervision to his live stock
holdings in that state. Mr. Harper has always been a stanch Republican in
politics, and most of his political activities were in the State of Nebraska. He was
a member of the first town board of Wallace, served as treasurer of the school board, was vice chairman of the Lincoln County central committee and because of the absence of the chairman presided over the committee in most of its
meetings. He was a delegate to numerous county and state conventions, and in any list of influential Republican leaders of Nebraska during the past forty years the name of P. L. Harper would be included. He was a member of the
building committee of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Wallace and has always derived a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that the church building was paid for in the panic year of 1893, when churches and nearly all other institutions in the West were having a difficult struggle to exist at all. He served for a great many years as a trustee of the church of Wallace, and from
1890 to 1896 was a trustee of the Nebraska Wesleyan University of University Place, Nebraska, and contributed of his wisdom and experience as a financier and business man to solving many of the problems confronting that splendid school.
Mr. Harper married at Chariton, Iowa, in January, 1889, Miss Zora Stewart,
who was born at Albia, Iowa, and was about a year old when she was taken to
Chariton by her parents, George Judson and Amanda (Cramer) Stewart. The Stewart family have lived in Iowa since territorial times. Mr. and Mrs. Harper have two daughters. The older, Eloise, is the wife of Robert V. Evans, of
Wallace, Nebraska, and has four sons, Stewart Harper, John Robert, Frederick Smith and Donald Evans. The daughter Helen is the wife of Peter M. LaVelle, also of Wallace, Nebraska, and their three children are Franklin Harper, Peter Clayton and Barbara Ann.
Mr. and Mrs. Harper now occupy the fine old homestead at Chariton which for
many years, was the home of Mrs. Harper's parents. It stands as a landmark
of an old generation in Iowa affairs and is one of the very beautiful places
in Chariton. Mrs. Harper is a woman of intellectual attainments and business
ability and is a fine representative of the pioneer element of Iowa
While Mr. Harper has been active in politics his ambition has not been
satisfied by the rewards of public office, but by the broad constructive service
he could render through his qualifications as a business man. In this way he
has been able to wield an influence in the changing destiny of several
prosperous localities in the Middle West, and in a career that has in every way
reflected material success he has also enjoyed those intangible rewards given to
a man in the form of the honor and respect paid by a community to those who
exemplify integrity, the high character of public honesty and responsibility.
Now dividing his time between the two states, his career reflects credit on
his native State of Iowa, and on the newer State of Nebraska, where his
children and grandchildren are active citizens today.
*Check your facts, don't know how accurate.
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