Harper Genealogy Data


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 peace.

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 father's death.

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
Joseph Seaman
Wareham Gibbs Proved 11th day of Mar. A.D. 1833

Issue of William and Elizabeth Harper:

  1. John Johnson Harper, b. in 1771 in Ire.

  2. Charles Harper, b. Mar. 4, 1775 in Ire.

  3. William  Harper Jr., b. 1776 in Ire.

  4. Elizabeth Harper, b. Apr. 16, 1780 in Ire. Twin

  5. Isabelle Harper, b. Apr. 16, 1780 in Ire. Twin

  6. Christiana Harper, b. Sept. 19, 1783 in Ire.

  7. Alexander Harper, b. Feb. 5, 1786 in Ire.



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