John Harper

by Bruce Whitaker

John Harper was born in February 1756 in either Berks or Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Thomas Harper Sr. (1731–1822 ca.) and Mary Stenson (1726 ca–1761 ca). He was raised on his father’s farm in Lancaster County. He had at least two brothers and at least one sister. John’s mother, Mary Harper, died while John was still a young boy, and Thomas Harper was left to raise his young children by himself.

John Harper joined the American Army in late October or early November 1775. He was a private in the 1st Regiment of the Continental Army under Captain Jonathan Jones Company and Colonel DeHaas, Pennsylvania Regiments. John Harper spent his first winter in service at the disastrous siege of Quebec. He was also at the battle of Three Rivers in Canada.

Harper served under George Washington at the Battle of Trenton. At midnight on December 25, 1776, Harper was with George Washington when he crossed the Delaware River during a snowstorm. They landed nine miles north of Trenton early on Christmas morning and moved quickly southward to the city. The army attacked the city just before dawn to capture the town from the drunken British and Hessian soldiers who had been celebrating Christmas Eve. Harper received his discharge from the Army at Philadelphia in May of 1777.

John Harper married Barbara Struble around 1778. Barbara Struble was born in Pennsylvania in March 1756. John and Barbara Harper had at least six children, of whom four were born in Pennsylvania. In about 1791 John and Barbara Harper moved to the Jersey Creek section of Rowan (now Davidson County), North Carolina. John Harper’s father Thomas Harper and brothers Thomas Jr. and Samuel moved to Jersey Creek at or around that same time.

Lot Harper (1781–1866), son of John Harper and the ancestor of all the Fairview Harpers (including myself), moved to Fairview in the mid-1790s. Lot was in his early teens at the time. He moved to the farm of Revolutionary War veteran Adam Cooper (1760-1830) and remained in the Coopers’ home until he married Mariam Whitaker. This story is widespread in both the Harper and Cooper families; it is supported by the 1800 Buncombe County census, which list a male 16 to 26 living in the Adam Cooper home. Lot would have been 19 years old at the time. It was said that Lot served as a farmhand for the badly disabled (from war injuries) Adam Cooper. Why Lot left his parents as a young teenage boy to move to Fairview and live and work with Cooper has never been explained. Some thought Lot had a falling out with his parents John and Barbara Harper; others thought John Harper may have owed money to Cooper. Adam Cooper was from the same area of Pennsylvania as the Harpers and he may have been a relative of John Harper or his wife Barbara Struble.

John and Barbara Harper moved to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, in 1814. They lived in the Hunt settlement of Quality Valley near Penrod. All of their children except Lot Harper moved to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, at about the same time. In 1818, John Harper applied for a Revolutionary War Pension. It was eventually approved in 1821 and was retroactive to 1818. The pension was for eight dollars a year.

John Harper died in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky on September 4, 1834. His wife died a short time later. John and Barbara Harper had six children:

David Harper was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania around 1779. He married Lydia Engler. David died in Butler County Kentucky in 1850.

Lot Harper was born in Pennsylvania on November 23, 1781. He moved to Fairview and married Mariam Whitaker (1786-1824). She was the daughter of Peter Whitaker Sr. (1733-1815) and Mariam F. Kent (1745-1826). Lot Harper was married again to Susannah Whitaker (1777-1866), the sister of Lot’s first wife. Lot died on October 13, 1866 in Fairview. He and both his wives are buried in Cane Creek Cemetery in Fairview.

Mary Harper was born in Pennsylvania around 1788. She married Samuel Wiseman.

Lucy Harper was born in Pennsylvania about 1790. She married Elijah Hunt in 1816 in Kentucky.

John D. Harper was born around 1795 in Rowan (now Davidson) County, NC, and married Charity Lynn in Kentucky. He died in 1826.

Jeanette “Jane” Harper was born around 1797 in Rowan (now Davidson) County, NC. She married George Penrod in Kentucky. She died in 1885.

Local historian Bruce Whitaker documents genealogy in the Fairview area. You can reach him at 628-1089 or email him at
[email protected].

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