Volume I

Editor - Marsha L. Fuller

Spring 1996


Welcome to The Harper Family Newsletter! It's been such a pleasure receiving all your letters and phone calls over the past year. I loved hearing from all of you and loved hearing your memories about our family. Writing this book and meeting new relatives has been a deeply satisfying experience. It has enriched my life immensely. If you have written to me but have not yet received a reply, be assured that you will. I haven't had time to reply to all of your letters, but I promise I will soon. A terrific thing which I hadn't expected was the amount of response I received from other branches of the Harper family. Many, many family members who are descended from Philip Harper the Pioneer got in touch with me. In one of the future newsletters, I'm going to devote a great deal of space to laying out the FULL tree of Philip Harper the Pioneer. It is quite clear that a common characteristic of the members of the Harper family is their strong desire to research their family roots and to stay in close touch with other family members!

While visiting my sister in Southern California, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some more Harper relatives for the first time. We held the 1st Annual West Coast Harper Reunion on September 7, 1995. Elma Lawrence Hatch, Jackie Harper Bassler and Jack Councilman were there. I borrowed my sister's camera and took a picture of all of us, but the film didn't come out. Oh well, better luck next time! It was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again next year with additional family members.

Just to let you know - the main Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) at Salt Lake City, Utah purchased a copy of The Harper Family History. They have microfilmed each page of it and are permanently storing the mocrofilm in their vault under the mountain to ensure that it is protected in the event of a natural (or man-made) disaster. The book has been placed on the shelves of their research library so that anyone who is researching our family will have access to it and will know how to contact us.

Thanks to the wonderful "elephant memory" of June Harrison Reed, daughter of Delphia (20th Child), I now believe that Jacob C. and Susan McDonald Harper moved to Allegany Mountain in Randolph County much earlier than we had previously believed. It has long been thought that they didn't take up residence there until 1866, but evidence now points to their being there as early as 1861. Here are the reasons for this conclusion: June Reed relates a story told to her as a child by her grandmother, Susan McDonald Harper. Grandmother Susan told June that the Indians came one time and she had to grab up her firstborn child and run into the woods to hide from them. This story seems to indicate that she was alone in the house. Her husband could have been away, driving the cattle to market, or out in the fields laboring over the crops. We know from the 1860 Census, conducted in August or September of that year, that Jacob and Susan were living with Jacob's parents in Pendleton County. This was a few months before the birth of their first child, Jeremiah, on December 31, 1860. Sometime during the year 1861, the young couple must have moved to Allegany Mountain with their first baby. Their second child, Adam was born at the beginning of 1862. Since Susan said that she only had one child to grab up and run into the woods with, this must have occurred sometime in 1861. Also, since she indicated that she was alone in the house, they couldn't still have been living with Jacob's parents. There would have been ten people living in the house at the time and she would have said "we all had to run into the woods to hide." An additional piece of supporting evidence comes from a Parsons, West Virginia newspaper interview with Susan in the 1920's (see book pg. 77). She told the reporter that she and Jacob C. moved "to within four miles of Harman in 1861. 'We lived there when the great Civil War broke out and were shocked to hear of the war between the states.'" So, apparently, all of The 20 Children were born in Randolph County except for the first child, Jeremiah.

Twyla Harper Stemple, granddaughter of Walter (15th Child) said she was told a long time ago that Jacob C. and Susan lived in their spring house when they first moved to Randolph County, while they were building their house. Although the present spring house does not look much like a place where a small family could live (see photo on book page 65), it may be that the original building was somewhat different. History of Tucker County by Hu Maxwell, 1884, tells us that "...the spring, the milk-house, with its fresh butter and cool milk, the open fire place to purify the room by carrying away foul air, as well as to lend a cheerfulness by its light and heat, and the wholesome, well-done corn bread, rendered a doctor more ornamental than useful a few years ago." Maybe a spring house wasn't such a bad place to live back then.

Another item of interest from the memories of June Reed: Jacob C. Harper was on the road a lot driving his cattle to market and carrying home the large sums of money he received as payment from the sale of his cattle. He frequently stayed in inns while he was thus traveling. One night he woke up to hear two men in the next room plotting to kill him for his money. He quietly got up, dressed, and left the inn. Our family is certainly lucky that he was a light sleeper that night...or many of us might not be here!

Just as Elma Lawrence Hatch remembered the death of Jacob C. Harper (see book pg. 79), so too did Bill Wood write and tell me of his memory of the passing of Susan McDonald Harper: "I remember my great Grandmother Susan. I sat on her lap as a child and counted the buttons on her dress. She wore these dresses that had little buttons all down the front. I also remember when she died and was lying in the coffin in my grandfather's living room. I went in when no one else was around and just stood and stared till my mother came in. I asked if I could kiss her and my mother said, 'Yes, but she will be cold.' I didn't kiss her after she told me that because I remembered the warm kisses I got when she was alive." [For those of you too young to remember, it was the custom then to "lay out" the deceased person in the living room or parlor of a close family member. People came to the house to pay their respects.] Bill's grandparents were Ambrose Lawrence and Mary Harper Lawrence (7th Child).

Kathryn Degler Arbaugh, granddaughter of Henry (10th Child), remembers her grandmother, Clara Bland Harper, riding her horse out Canaan Valley and taking Kathryn home with her. Clara had two riding horses and was very fond of them.

Speaking of riding horses, I was told that Grandmother Susan used to stay out on her horse in the fields...until her labor pains started! She'd just ride home, go into the house and have the baby!

A great-granddaughter of Peter (3rd Child), Merrilee Thomas of Beaver City, Nebraska, has gained some attention as an author and photographer of note. On April 23, 1989, a massive tornado swept across their farm. Merrilee braved the elements (from a safe distance!) to take some award-winning photographs of it. One of these photos hung at Epcot Center at DisneyWorld. The National Geographic Society purchased one to place in a book entitled, Raging Forces, and "Nebraskaland Magazine" just purchased it for a special edition on Nebraska weather. Merrilee says, "God knows I'm no photographer, so these are a special gift from Him. Thanks, God."

Mary Lee Harper Eye and her daughter, Christina Eye Clapsadle, were kind enough to send me the program from the Grave Marking and Stone Dedication Ceremony for Mary's grandfather, Nicholas Miles Harper, held on August 19, 1995. This Civil War soldier served with distinction in Company A, 18th Cavalry, Virginia, CSA and is buried in the Harper-Simmons Cemetery #6 in Riverton, West Virginia. [They are descended from Adam Harper, the uncle of Jacob C. Harper.]

Gary D. Johnson, great-grandson of Albert (4th Child), wrote a fascinating article about his hunting trip to Montana and sold it to "Safari - The Journal of Big Game Hunting." It was published in their November/December 1995 issue. Congratulations, Gary!

Wilma Montoney Lund, granddaughter of Virginia (19th Child), has sent me tons of wonderful, old photographs. I'm going to feature these in next year's newsletter. She also wrote me about Virginia's trip to visit her in California in 1971: "The morning we had the biggy earthquake - Feb. 7 - early in the morning, I was so frightened I couldn't move out of bed. I was so concerned about Grandma. Her walker was leaning between her bed (where she could easily reach it) and the wood sliding closet door. As soon as we quit shaking, I hurried to her room to see about her. After the good morning I asked how she was and if she slept well. She said, 'Oh, yes. but the cat was in here a few minutes ago and made the darndest noise with the walker.' I told her it wasn't the cat - we had had an earthquake. She said, 'Well, I swan' and was not at all disturbed or, if she was, it didn't show. Relatives told me she was still talking about her trip to California and all the things she did and saw two years later."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO Nannie Harman Muse Yost WHO WAS 99 YEARS OLD ON MAY 1st! Nannie is the daughter of Elmira (12th Child).

Avonell Painter of Morgantown was kind enough to send me a cutting from an Angel Wing Begonia plant that was originally owned by Elmira Harper Harman (12th Child). It is beautiful and thriving on my dining room windowsill. Thanks, Avonell!

There are many, many more Items of Interest to share with you...but we've run out of room. Stay tuned for next year's issue. Future Newsletters: An account of the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and landing in Philadelphia by the immigrants; a letter from Peter Harper (3rd Child) to his son, written in the 1920's about our family's history; more memories sent in by family members; and lots more photographs!

Donations to cover the costs of printing and postage of the newsletter will be appreciated by The Harper Cemetery Association. J

Countdown: Only 4 more years until our Philip Harper the Pioneer Reunion in 2000.

Remember that story in the book about Jacob C. and Susan going to the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893? (See book pg. 76) Erma Teal, daughter of Virginia (19th Child), presently owns the organ they bought on that trip. She was kind enough to send me a photo with Delphia (20th Child) standing beside it.

Our prayers are with the family of Jacquelyn Hayley Blatterman. I just received a note from Jackie Blatterman telling me of the loss of this beloved granddaughter.

Our prayers are also with Kathryn Degler Arbaugh who has been battling cancer for several years. She is now facing another flare-up. We know you'll win, Kathryn!

Elsie Susan Harper Flanagan, the delightful woman whom everyone knew as "Tudie," passed away on April 3, 1996. We will miss her very much.

FAMILY TREE (Refer to book pages 104-105 and 138)

Philip Harper the Pioneer / \ \ Nicholas Philip, Jr. Jacob 1. Henry 1. Adam 1. Henry 2. George 2. Philip, III 2. Adam 3. Peter 3. Elias 3. Jacob,Jr. 4. Peter 4. Nicholas 5. Moses & 6. Leonard

Copyright 1996 Marsha L. Fuller.  All rights reserved.

Return to The Harper Family Homepage