Biography - Samuel Harper

SAMUEL HARPER resides on section 16, of Rural Township, Shelby County. His resideuce in this county dates from 1854. He was born in Beaver County, Pa., December 28, 1834, and is a son of James and Margaret (McFarland) Harper, both natives of County Antrim, Ireland.

The father of our subject, James Harper, came to the United States about 1825. At that time he had one brother in this country, John Harper, who had come here from the Emerald Isle in 1800. Our subject's maternal ancestors were also natives of County Antrim, Ireland, and of the three children in the family, two sons, John and Robert McFarland came to the United States, where they prepared a home, and their parents and one sister followed them hither two years after their advent into this country. Their sister, Miss Margaret McFarland, was a highly educated lady, and on coming to this country, she occupied herself in the sacred work of teaching the young to grow into noble men and women. She met and married James Harper, merchant of Fairview, Beaver County,. Pa., the father of our subject, about 1832. Both parents died in Beaver County, Pa. The mother passed out into the unknown in 1838, and the father in 1849, at the age of sixty-nine years. They had three children, only one of whom, our subject, lived to attain manhood.

The original of our sketch was reared in the mercantile business, receiving a practical business education which fitted him for commercial life. He is a graduate from a commercial college of high standing. Coming to Illinois, he stopped for a short time in Shelby County and then went to Texas, after which he returned to his native state, Pennsylvania, but finally accepted the advice of Horace Greeley, and came West, settling here in Illinois in 1860. Soon after his settling in this state he was attracted by the charms of one of the sweet girls of the Prairie state, and on December 27, 1860, was married to Mary J. Armstrong, who is a daughter of Edward and Margaret (Graham) Armstrong, settlers in Shelby County, from an early day, having come here as pioneers about 1827. They were natives respectively of Knox County, Ind., and of Kentucky. Mr. Armstrong was born in 1814. His wife was two years younger. They were married in Washington County, Ind., but their home was soon after established in Shelby County, this state, where they located on a farm in Ridge Township. There the mother died in June, 1853. The father followed her a number of years later, his decease taking place March 7, 1870.

Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong were the parents of seven children, six of whom lived to be grown. Their names are Mary Jane, Helen, Richard, Emma, William and Iona. Mrs. Harper's father was twice married after the death of Mrs. Harper's mother. By his third wife he became the father of one child whose name is James C. Mrs. Harper's maiden name was Mary Jane. She was born in Ridge Township, January 25, 1841, and was married to our subject, Samuel Harper, December 27, 1860.

After marriage our subject engaged in active service in the War of the Rebellion, enlisting in Company G, of the Thirty-second Illinois Infantry, October 18, 1864. He served until the close of the war, participating in the battles of Bentonville, the siege of Savannah, and was one of the army who was with Sherman in his noted march from Atlanta to the sea. He was a First Sergeant in his regiment and also received a commission as First Lieutenant. At the close of the war he returned to Shelby County and resumed farming. Here he owns eighty acres of land, which is under a good state of cultivation.

Mr. and Mrs. Harper have had six little ones who have come to their hearts and homes as promises of comfort and support to their declining years. Most of these children are now grown and have families of their own and are respected and honored members of society. Maggie is the wife of Thomas W. Cortmell; Lincoln G. resides in Cheyenne, Wyo.; James Edward and Carrie are engaged in the work of teaching, and have made themselves fine reputations in their chosen calling. Richard G. and Samuel McFarland make their homes with their parents. Two children died in childhood.

Politically, our subject is a Republican and the issues that are vital with his party are those that are likewise most important to him. He has been elected to several positions in township offices, having been Assessor and Township Clerk. Mr. Harper is one of the charter members of the Rural Township Farmers' Mutual Insurance Company, and has been the Secretary of the same since its organization. It is extremely gratifying to him, as to other officers and promoters of the organization, that success and financial standing is assured.

Extracted 17 Dec 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 559-560.

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