William Harper, Esq., Genealogy
William Harper was born at Belfast, Ireland in the year 1750.
About 1770 he married Elizabeth whose surname is believed to have been Johnson.
She was likewise born in the North of Ireland in 1750.
The exact date of their emigration to America is not known although it was after
Feb. of 1786 and prior to 1796 as they were living near Carmichael Town, Pa.
when tax lists were made for the latter date.
About 1797 they removed, with their younger children, to Marietta, Ohio and
William Harper joined the little band of pioneers which left there in canoes to
explore the Hock-Hocking valley in quest of a site for a new settlement in the
Ohio country. They landed at a location where the town of Athens now stands and
prepared a few log cabins in anticipation of removing their families there.
After looking over the field, William Harper decided to locate one mile west of
the present site of Athens, on the opposite bank of the river and there
establish a ferry.
Isaac Barker Sr. likewise built his cabin there, but on the north bank of the
Hock-Hocking. As soon as the log cabins were ready for occupancy William Harper
brought his family from Marietta. A few other cabins were soon erected and the
settlement was named Elizabethtown, for Mrs. Harper who was the first white
woman to establish a home in that immediate vicinity.
William Harper was a man much interested in local affairs. He was one of the
first trustees of Athens township, also serving in that capacity in 1808, 1812,
1815 and 1816. He was the second treasurer of Athens county (1806) and served
also in that capacity from 1809 to 1811. In 1811 he was elected a justice of the
The early land entries of the county show that William Harper was an original
land holder with 146 1, acres.
He owned and operated a ferry known as Harper's Ferry, one mile west of Athens
on the Chillicothe road from the year 1797 until his death Dec. 24, 1830. His
eldest son John Harper who came from Fayette county, Pa. in 1812 was associated
with his father and continued to operate the ferry for some years following his
Elizabeth Harper preceded her husband in death, dying Sept. 9, 1825. They are
buried in the old West State Street Cemetery at Athens, Ohio.
The last Will and Testament of William Harper is of record in Athens
County Will Bk. 2 P. 126 as follows:
"I, William Harper of the township and county of Athens and
State of Ohio, considering the uncertainty of this mortal life and being of
sound and perfect mind blessed be Almighty God for the same do make and
publish this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following:
Item 1 - first it is my desire that my farm may be disposed of in the manner
and way as my executors think best to suit my heirs.
Item 2.- I devise that all the moveable property that I am possessed of may be
sold in the manner and way above mentioned.
Item 3 - I desire that whatever notes or accounts may be found belonging to me
may 1-be collected and when the full amount of all the debts that will be
coming from my estate, that the same may be added together and then divided
between my seven children equally that is John Harper, Charles Harper, William
Harper, Elizabeth Harper Abbott, Isable Harper Barker, Christian Harper Barker
and Alexander Harper.
I do also appoint and nominate Calvary Morris and Edmund Dorr executors of
this my last Will and Testament revoking all others.
Given under my Hand and Seal this 29th day of May A.D. 1827
In presence of William Harper seal
Wareham Gibbs Proved 11th day of Mar. A.D. 1833
Issue of William and Elizabeth Harper:
John Johnson Harper, b.
in 1771 in Ire.
Charles Harper, b. Mar. 4,
1775 in Ire.
William Harper Jr.,
b. 1776 in Ire.
b. Apr. 16, 1780 in Ire. Twin
b. Apr. 16, 1780 in Ire. Twin
b. Sept. 19, 1783 in Ire.
b. Feb. 5, 1786 in Ire.