Biography - JOHN B. HARPER

The owner of one of the best farms of its size in Johnson county is John B. Harper, of section 15, Bloomfield township, who for forty years has been carrying on operations on the same tract and who is widely and favorably known among the agriculturists of this section. He has been a witness of the marvelous development of Johnson county, and has participated in the changes that have brought this locality from a practical wilderness into one of the garden spots of the state. Mr. Harper was born October 27, 1848, on a farm in the state of Alabama, and is a son of Jesse and Leannah (Busby) Harper, natives of that state.

Mr. Harper's mother died during the same year that he was born, and his father migrated to Johnson county, Illinois in 1852, settling near old Reynoldsburg. Shortly thereafter, however he went to Arkansas, and it is probable that he died there, as all trace of him was lost. Mr. Harper's only sister. Mrs. Leannah Elizabeth Birdwell, died in 1899, in Johnson county. His uncle. "W. E. Harper, fought during the Civil war, enlisting at Eldorado, Saline county, as a member of the Third Illinois Cavalry. After the death of his mother Mr. Harper was reared by his grandparents, John and Betsy (Gocher) Harper, who migrated to Johnson county in 1852 and settled on a farm of forty acres, purchased under the "bit" act, at twelve and one-half cents an acre. Later they sold this property and settled in Saline county, near Eldorado, where they continue to reside until their deaths, in 1862. Mr. Harper continued to reside with his grandparents as long as they lived, and then hired out as a farm hand in White county for two years. Locating then in Williamson county, he secured employment in a livery stable, but in 1865 came to Johnson county and again took up farm work, continuing to be thus employed until 1870, at which time he was married. He then began operations on his own account on his present farm, a tract of eighty acres located about three and one-half miles north of Vienna. This farm, which is second bottom land, with five springs, is highly productive, and Mr. Harper has raised eight hundred bushels of corn on thirty acres, with wheat and other farm products in comparison. A skilled agriculturist who believes in using modern methods, he has been very successful in his work, and the prosperous appearance of his farm testifies to the presence of able management. Each year has found him adding to the buildings and improvements on his land, his stock is of the best grade, and his farming machinery is of the latest and most highly-improved manufacture. Although he has reached the time of life when most men are willing to retire and shift their burdens to the shoulders of younger men, Mr. Harper is still hale and hearty, and fully able to do as large a part of the farm work as he was years ago. Having led a clean, temperate life, he has never known a day's sickness, and has reared. a healthy, intelligent family of children. Mr. Harper has never cared for public office, but has discharged his duties as a good citizen by serving his township as school director and trustee.

In 1870 Mr. Harper was married to Miss Sarah A. Cooper, daughter of John and Betsy (Harrold) Cooper, who came to Johnson county at an early day from North Carolina and took up government land. Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Harper, as follows: Mrs. Leannah Elizabeth Taylor, who has five children, Lloyd, Blanche, Lee and Lawrence, twins, and Sarah; Martha Adeline Clayton, who has three children, Elvira, Hazel and Pleasant; Mrs. Nora Taylor, who has three children, Vivy, Louisa and Charles; Cora Pennina; Mrs. Delia Leannah Taylor; and Fred, who married Miss Jobe and has three children, Philip, John and Gerrel. The family is connected with the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and Mr. Harper has been a liberal supporter of religious and charitable movements.

Extracted 07 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George Washington Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1539-1540.

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