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Delaware County, Iowa

 Biography Directory


James Harper




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) and Matilda.


      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 George.


      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 community.

~ source: Biographical souvenir of the counties of Delaware and Buchanan, Iowa; Chicago : F. A. Battey, 1890. Page 274-275; LDS microfilm #985424

~ contributed by Thom Carlson