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Biography of Samuel N. Harper
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Samuel N. Harper. Many of the men of Kansas whose closing years of life were devoted exclusively to the peaceful pursuits of agrionlture, had seen much adventure in earlier times and on many occasions had proved as heroie as any knight of romance or history. Thus may be brought to notice the late Samuel N. Harper, for many years one of Menoken Township’s most esteemed and valued citizens. A survivor of the great civil war, afterward one of the courageous and hardy men who dared Indian treachery on the frontier and engineered great wagon trains through the mountains, and still later a developer and organized in the section in which he chose a home, Mr. Harper’s entire life was one possessing interest to all who cherish memories of early Kansas.
Samuel N. Harper was born on a farm near Gaysport, Ohio, the second born in a family of four children. His parents were Joseph and Nancy Harper, the former of whom was a man of consequence, owning a farm, a salt mill and a hotel. Samuel Nelson assisted his father in these enterprises until October 6, 1862, when he enlisted for service in the Civil war, entering Company D, Seventy-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry for a term of nine months. He was honorably discharged July 14, 1863, having safely passed through many minor battles and the great siege of Vieksburg.
In 1864 he was induced by his older brother, James Harper, to go to Missouri, and there he entered the service of the United States Government, in the quartermaster’s department in the western army and he continued in this department for five years, spending two years in New Mexico under the famous Captain Bradley. He was one of General Custer’s wagon masters and conducted his long transportation trains in Custer’s campaign of 1867 from Missouri to Fort Riley, Kansas. It was a rough and dangerous life and the time came when he decided to return to civil life once more and become a farmer, marry and assume the responsibilities of domestic life and private citizenship. He was able to secure 160 acres that now comprise a part of the home farm in Menoken Township, buying the land from George Young, who was a leader once among the Pottawatomie Indians. The purchase was in 1866.
In 1870 Mr. Harper was married to Miss Mary Barber. She was born and reared in Muskingum County, Ohio, and came by railroad to Kansas to be united in marriage with Mr. Harper. They had long been attached to each other and they were married at Topeka by the late Reverend Barrett. To this union seven children were born: Nancy M., who resided at home; Sarah Margaret, who married Thomas P. Vanorsdal; George B., who lives in Silver Lake Township; William G., John B. and Ada M., who reside on the old home farm, and one who died an infant.
After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Harper settled on the farm he had bought and in the course of time he built the present farm residence. They met with many discouragements in early days when Kansas suffered from drouth and the grasshopper pest but they were frugal, resourceful and courageous and lived to see their early hopes realized and peace and comfort around them. Mrs. Harper was a member of the Presbyterian Church. Her death occurred May 25, 1896, and the care of the younger children fell to the eldest daughter and nobly had she discharged this duty.
Mr. Harper continued to add to his acreage and at the time of his death, which occurred July 6, 1913, he was the owner of 400 acres, which is still intact, his son William now operating it for the family. Mr. Harper in his early years here was a democrat and took considerable interest in public affairs and frequently was called to serve in township offices and was a member of the first township board after the formation of Menoken Township. He was a strong advocate of public education and gave his children advantages and for thirty years was a member of the district school board.
William Harper, a son of Samuel Nelson and Mary (Baker) Harper, was born on the home place in Menoken Township, October 23, 1880, and had spent his life on this place. Before and ever since his father’s death he had managed the farm and success had attended his work. He is a stockholder in the Shawnee State Bank and is one of the county’s substantial men. In his political views he was in accord with those of his father, a strong republican, but had never consented to hold any political office, although he is ever ready to help promote movements for the general welfare and especially those promising to improve agricultural conditions. He is master of the township Grange. He belongs to the advanced branches of Masonry and attends the Blue Lodge No. 51 at Topeka. He is a worthy son of a worthy father.
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