James Hansel Harper, my fourth great-grandfather, was born about 1822 in Tennessee…no, South Carolina…no…we really don’t know. He said on most census records that he was from Tennessee, but also said South Carolina. His children placed his birth also in North Carolina and Virginia. Thanks, guys, you’re all a big help 150 years later! Ugh.

I have searched and searched for this Harper family with no luck. Perhaps someone somewhere knows something?!

There is some speculation about two possible sisters for James: Elizabeth Harper Bennett & Mary Ann Harper Mosier. All three were married within two months of each other in Davidson County, Tennessee. They also lived next door to each other on the 1850 census for District 25, Davidson County, Tennessee. (This area later became Cheatham County, Tennessee, better known as the Sycamore Mills area.)

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Update: August 11, 2017
There are three important updates since this article was originally posted in April 2017.

  1. James Hansel Harper’s daughter, Ida, married Fountain Stone. Her information and census records have now been added to the timeline. (Thank you, Melinda McMeans, for finding this information about Ida!)
  2. I have added John Thomas Harper, born in 1832, to the timeline. I believe he is James Hansel Harper’s brother.
    • Through DNA testing, I match a couple of John’s descendants. They match James Hansel Harper’s known descendants. The Harper family is also related to the Jordan family through marriages over the years. This can skew results, but one lady I match with descends from John with no clear Jordan ties. Another lady, even though also descended from the Jordans, has been able to find a match to one of James Hansel Harper’s daughters, Ida Harper Stone. This lady has no Jordan ties that we’ve found.
    • John Thomas Harper is also the name of one of James Hansel Harper’s sons.
    • John’s parents are also a mystery.
    • John lived in the same area as James – Cheatham & Davidson County.
  3. After re-examining census data in Davidson County, the Elizabeth Harper on the 1830 census is NOT the same Elizabeth on the 1840 census.
    • In 1830, Elizabeth was 50-59, with two children, presumably Mary and Nathaniel Harper. They are whom I refer to in my “Leatherwood Creek Harpers” blog post. This group of Harpers are not kin to James, at least not immediate family. Her daughter married Alexander McDonald in 1833. On the 1840 census, I believe Elizabeth was the 60-69 year old female living with Alexander McDonald.
    • In 1840, there was an Elizabeth Harper age 40-49 with three children: a male 10-14, a male 15-19, and a female 15-19. James would have been 18 and Elizabeth Harper (Bennett) 17, so those two fit. However, John would have been 8, which is close to 10. Mary would be 13, and she’s not listed. Mary may not be a sister, and related a different way. Maybe Mary was omitted in error or even living with a neighbor.

      There is a chance this Elizabeth is not their mother at all, but I analyzed neighbors to the three Harper “children” in 1850 to compare them to Elizabeth’s neighbors in 1840. The same neighbors include: Squire Jones, Jacob Mayo, Joshua Carney, Ennis Carney, Alex Biggs, and Mary Taylor (to name a few). I believe the Harpers must have lived in the area for at least a few years prior to their marriages. It is odd three Harpers married local Sycamore Mills residents within two months of each other. After examining neighbors, I believe Elizabeth is their mother.


Another thing to note is that James’ daughter, Mary Jane, typically gave her place of birth as Illinois. This is around the time James’ family disappears from the census in 1860. Did they move to Illinois then move back to Tennessee? So many questions.

I created a timeline of events & records for the Harper family. In the records below, you’ll see that James and Elizabeth had at least six children:

  1. Angeline Eunice “Eunie” Harper who married Chesley Washington Taylor
  2. James William “Bill” Harper who married Lucy Stringfellow (my third great-grandparents)
  3. Mary Jane Harper who married James Johnson
  4. John Thomas Harper who married Icy Stump and Rutha Davis
  5. Ida Harper who married Fountain Stone
  6. Pleasant Comb Harper who married Serena/Dena Duncan

Timeline

1840 – Census, Davidson County, TN: Elizabeth is age 40 – 40; one male 10-14; one male 15-19; one female 15-19. Immediate neighbors include: Alexander Biggs, Mary Taylor, Jacob Mayo, Squire Jones, Alce Carney, Jesse Carney, and William Carney. Elizabeth could be the mother of James, Elizabeth, Mary and John.

26 Feb 1846 Elizabeth Harper [sister of James] marries Thomas Bennett in Davidson County, Tennessee.

12 Mar 1846 James Harper marries Elizabeth Satterfield in Davidson County, Tennessee.

9 Apr 1846 Mary Ann Harper marries John Mosier in Davidson County, Tennessee.

4 Jul 1848 Daughter Angeline Eunice “Eunie” Harper is born.

1850 Census, District 25, Davidson County, TN: James, 28, born abt. 1822 in Tennessee; Elizabeth is 23; Uny is 2
1850 Census, District 25, Davidson County, TN: Elizabeth Harper & Thomas Bennett live next door to James Harper. Elizabeth is 27, born abt. 1823 in TN.
1850 Census, District 25, Davidson County, TN: Mary Harper & John Mosier live a couple of houses away from James Harper & Elizabeth Harper Bennett.
1850 – Census, Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, USA: John Harper [possible brother of James] is 18, born about 1832 in Tennessee. He is a printer. He lives with newspaper editor, Harvey Macgee Watterson, and Harvey’s family.

20 Oct 1852 Son James William “Bill” Harper is born in Tennessee.

May 7, 1854 – John Thomas Harper [possible brother of James] marries Mary Elizabeth (Nancy) Demumbran in Davidson County, Tennessee.

7 Sep 1855 Daughter Mary Jane Harper is born. Later records state she was born in Illinois.

1856 – Tax list in Cheatham County lists James Harper in District 2, same district as John Mosier.

16 Oct 1857 Son John Thomas Harper is born in Tennessee.

1860 – James, Elizabeth and children are NOT FOUND on a census.
1860 – Census, District 1, Cheatham, Tennessee: John [possible brother of James] is 28, born abt. 1832 in Tennessee. Lives with wife, N.E., and two children.

Abt. 1863 Daughter Ida is born. 

10 Oct 1863 Eunie Harper marries “Chas Washington” Taylor in Davidson County, Tennessee.

13 Mar 1866 Youngest child, son Pleasant Comb Harper, is born in Cheatham County, Tennessee.

1870 Census, District 1, Cheatham County, TN, post office Ashland City: James, 47, born abt. 1823 in Tennessee; Elizabeth is 40; John is 13, Schie or Ida is 9, Pleasant is 4. All born in Tennessee.
1870 Census, District 1, Cheatham County, TN, post office Ashland City: Jane Harper is 15, born abt. 1855 in Illinois, living with sister, Angaline (Harper) Taylor and her family. Angeline is 21, born abt. 1849 in Tennessee.
1870 – Census, District 1, Cheatham County, TN, post office Ashland City: John T [possible brother of James] is 41, born abt. 1829 in Tennessee. He lives with wife Nancy E and four children.
* James, John, and the Taylors all live in the Sycamore Mills area of Cheatham County.
1870
Census, Scates Mill, Christian, Kentucky: Elizabeth Bennet [sister of James] is 46, born abt. 1824 in North Carolina; husband is Thomas; they have six children.

29 Dec 1871 William Harper marries Lucy Stringfellow in Cheatham County, Tennessee.

3 May 1873 Mary J Harper marries R J Johnson in Cheatham County, Tennessee.

1880 Census, District 24, Davidson County, TN: James, 58, born abt. 1822 in South Carolina, parents from SC; “Sarah” is 45; Ida is 17; Pleasant is 15. Children & wife born in Tennessee. Sarah is Elizabeth.
1880 – Census, District 24, Davidson County, TN: Jane Johnson, 24, born abt. 1856 in Illinois, married to James, living with step-daughter Sarah, and daughters Fannie and Tennessee. They are living next door to James and Elizabeth.
1880 Census, District 1, Cheatham County, TN: EA Taylor (Eunice Angeline) is 32, born abt. 1848 in TN, father from NC, mother from TN; husband is CW, they have six children.
1880 Census, District 10, Cheatham County, TN: William, 28, born abt. 1852 in Tennessee, father was born in NC, married to Lucy, living with five children.
1880 Census, District 24, Davidson County, TN: John [son of James] is 21, born abt. 1859 in TN. Father born in Virginia & mother born in TN. Living alone.
1880 – Census, District 9, Cheatham County, TN: John [possible brother of James] is 51, born about 1829 in Tennessee, lives with wife Nancy and children.
1880 Census, Scates Mill, Christian, Kentucky: Elizabeth Bennett [sister of James] is 58, born abt. 1822 in North Carolina, parents are from NC; husband is Thomas; 2 children live with them.
15 Jun 1880 Agriculture Census, District 25, Davidson, Tennessee, USA: James Harper

abt. 1882 – Ida Harper marries Fountain Stone, according to the 1900 census.

10 Feb 1885 John T Harper [son of James] marries Icy Stump in Cheatham County, Tennessee.

23 Dec 1894 Pleasant “P C” Harper marries Dena Duncan in Perry County, Tennessee.

20 Oct 1897 John T Harper [son of James] marries Rutha Madison Davis in Cheatham County, Tennessee after the death of his first wife, icy Stump.

1900 Census, Civil District 1, Cheatham County, TN: Angeline is 51, born Jul 1848 in TN with parents, husband is CW Taylor, she has eight children but only one living with her – Samuel
1900 Census, Civil District 9, Cheatham County, TN: Mary Johnson is 47, born October 1852 in Tennessee; husband is James; listed with six children and with mother, Lizzie Harper. Lizzie is 63, born May 1837.
1900 Census, Civil District 9, Cheatham County, TN: William is 48, born October 1857 in TN along with parents; wife is Lucie; four children.
1900 Census, Civil District 9, Cheatham County, TN: John [son of James] is 42, born Oct 1857 in TN along with parents; wife is Ruth; their family.
1900 – Census, Civil District 9, Cheatham County, TN: John [possible brother of James] is 70, born March 1830 in Tennessee, is widowed. He lives with his daughter, granddaughter, and grandson.
*Note these families all live in District 9 of Cheatham County.
1900 – Census, McLeansboro, Hamilton, Illinois: Ida is 37, born Feb 1863 in TN, living with husband, Fountain Stone, and four children.
1900 Census, Coon Creek, Perry County, TN: Pleasant C Harper is 34, born March 1866 in TN, parents from TN; married to Serena or Dena; 2 kids; 90 year old aunt Elizabeth Morgan on wife’s side

9 Dec 1906 Journal of Clayborne Hooper states Mrs. Harper, Elizabeth (Satterfield), has died. Also referenced in family Bible of John Thomas Harper [son of James].

Before 1910 – There is no record of John Thomas [possible brother of James] Harper’s death. He is not on the 1910 census.

1910 Census, Civil District 1, Cheatham County, Tennessee: Eunie Taylor is 61, born abt. 1849 in TN along with mother, father born in NC, widowed, lives with son and grandchildren on Big Marrowbone Road
1910 Census, Civil District 13, Cheatham County, Tennessee: Janie Johnsen is 54, born abt. 1856 in Illinois, living on Sulpher Creek Road; husband is James; they live with 3 children.
1910 Census, Civil District 10, Cheatham County, Tennessee: William Harper is 58, born abt. 1852 in TN along with parents, living on Sulpher Creek Road and Ashleys City (Ashland City); wife is Lucy; one daughter, Lucy.
1910 Census, Civil District 10, Cheatham County, Tennessee: John Harper [son of James] is 53, born abt. 1857 in TN along with parents, living on Dry Creek Road; with is Ruth Tennessee, four children.
1910 – Census, McLeansboro Ward 2, Hamilton, Illinois: Ida is 46, born abt. 1864 in TN, living with husband, Fountain Stone, and three children.

1920 Census, Civil District 1, Cheatham County, Tennessee: Eunie (Euna) Taylor is 60, born abt. 1860 in TN, parents from TN, living on Big Marrowbone Road with son, Sam
1920 Census, Civil District 5, Cheatham County, Tennessee: Jane Johnson is 63, born abt. 1857 in Illinois, living on Griffintown Road and Sulphur Creek Road; Jane’s mother was born in TN and her father born in NC; married to James, son Gus and his family live with them.
1920 Census, Civil District 5, Cheatham County, Tennessee: William Harper is 68, born abt. 18552 in TN, living on Griffintown Road and Sulphur Creek Road; wife is Lucy.
1920 Census, Civil District 5, Cheatham County, Tennessee: John Harper [son of James] is 62, born abt. 1858 in TN, parents from TN; wife is Rutha, son is John.
1920 Census, Civil District 4, Perry County, Tennessee: Pleas is 53, born 1867 in TN, both parents from TN; wife is Dina; living with six children.
1920 Cheatham County Census: William Harper is 68, both parents born in North Carolina.
1920 – Census, East St Louis Ward 1, St Clair, Illinois: Ida is 56, born abt. 1864 in TN, living with husband Fountain Stone and two children.

16 Jan 1924 Mary J. Johnson dies in Cairo, Alexander, Illinois and is buried in Villa Ridge, IL. Father listed as James Harper, born in Nashville, TN. Mother born in TN.

7 Jan 1929 Eunice Angeline Taylor dies at age 80. Her death certificate says her and her family are from TN. Parents are GM (Jim) Harper and Elizabeth Saterfield.
4 Apr 1929 John [son of James] passes away at age 71. Death certificate lists birth as Tennessee and parents as Jim Harper and Eliza B Satterfield, both born in Tennessee.

1930 Census, District 5, Cheatham County, Tennessee: James W. Harper is 78, born abt. 1852, born in TN along with parents, living on Harpeth River Road; lives with daughter Rhoda Hedgepath and her family
1930 Census, District 4, Perry, Tennessee: Pleas is 64, born 1866 in TN, Father born in VA, mother born in WV; living with 2 single sons.
1930 – Census, East St Louis, St Clair, Illinois: Ida is 67, born abt. 1863 in TN, living with husband Fountain Stone and grandson.

May 8, 1939 – Ida Harper Stone passes away in East St Louis, St Clair, Illinois at age 76. Her birth city is Nashville, Tennessee. Her father is listed as “John Harper”. (John could be in error; it depends on who the informant is.)

15 Feb 1950 William Harper passes away in Charlotte, Dickson, Tennessee at age 98. Parents aren’t listed.

30 Jul 1953 Pleasant Comb Harper passes away at the age of 86 in Rural, Perry, Tennessee. He was born in Cheatham County, Tennessee. Father is James Harper and mother is Elizabeth Satterfield.


If you have any information about the Harper family, please contact me at downhomegenealogy@gmail.com.

Records from Ancestry.com.

Last updated: August 11, 2017

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