JAMES HARPER belongs to
the list of successful men of Delaware county. He is
familiar with pioneer life in Iowa, and knows what hard
times meant in the "fifties." He has by his industry and
hard work transformed three hundred and forty acres of
raw prairie land into one of the finest and most
productive farms in the country.
Mr. Harper is a native of Huntington county,
Pa., and was born near a famous old English fort December
15, 1812. His father, Robert Harper, was a native of
Ireland. He came to America in 1790, when quite young, and
settled in the Keystone State, where he died in 1845. He
followed agricultural pursuits throughout life. He lived a
consistent Christian life and was a zealous member of the
Presbyterian church. The mother of our subject bore the
maiden name of Rosana Moreland. She was a native of Ireland, but came
to the New World with her parents when a child. She died in
1847. She was a bright example of a Christian lady, kind,
generous and hospitable, always ready to help the poor, the
unfortunate and the distressed, relieving their wants and
speaking kind words of comfort and hope. She had hosts of
friends and not an enemy in the world. A faithful wife and
devoted mother, her death was mourned not only by her relatives,
but also by a large circle of friends, to whom she was greatly
endeared. She was the mother of six children, three of whom
still survive her.
James Harper was reared on a farm and his
limited education was obtained in the old-fashioned log
school-house with puncheon floor, slab seats and large
fireplace, with chimney made of sticks and clay.
He remained at home until he became
of age, and then went to Wisconsin, where he spent thirteen
years in the lumber camps of that state. He owned one sawmill,
and did an extensive business.
In 1850 he returned to his native
state, where he was engaged in farming for four years.
In 1854 he removed to Delaware
county, Iowa, settled in South Fork township, where he purchased
land and where he has since lived. Settlers were few and far
between in those days and wild game was plentiful.
Mr. Harper married in Pennsylvania in
1852, taking for a life companion Miss Matilda Jefferies, a
native of that state. She is a daughter of David and Elizabeth
Wilson Jefferies, both of whom were natives of the Keystone
State and descendants of William Penn's colony. The father was
a farmer and a man of considerable prominence, having been
justice of the peace for many years. He was a zealous member of
the Presbyterian church and respected by all who knew him.
The union of Mr. and Mrs. Harper was
blessed by the birth of two children, Elizabeth (now deceased)
Mr. Harper lost his first wife in
1857, and six years later he married Julia Larabee, a native of
Maine. The result of this union was six children, five of whom
are now living, viz.: Ada J., Lavinia, William, James and
Mr. Harper was reared a democrat and
affiliated with that party for twenty years, but has since been
a stanch republican. While he has never sought office, he has
been called upon to fill some important positions of public
trust. He was a member of the board of county supervisors one
term and has filled other minor offices.
He has lived a Christian life for
many years and is a regular attendant at the Presbyterian
church, of which he has been a member for a few years.
He owns a fine estate of three
hundred and twenty acres of highly cultivated land, equipped
with all modern improvements. He is one of the leading farmers
of South Fork township, and is deservedly popular in the