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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



JOHN S. HARPER, editor and proprietor of the Le Roy Eagle, has been a resident of the Prairie State since 1840, and an interested witness of its growth and development. He was born in Lexington, Ky., Oct. 27, 1832, and is the son of Cyrus A. Harper, who was a native of Vanceburg, Lewis Co., Ky. His grandfather, John Sterling Harper, of Virginia, removed to Kentucky while a young man, and became the intimate friend of Daniel Boone. He was a cooper by trade, and carried on a large business in that line.

Cyrus A. Harper, the father of our subject, became a merchant of Lexington when a young man, and carried on business there until 1836. He then came North to Galena, Ill., where he opened a large store and also established a smelting furnace. He was joined by his family in 1840. While there in business he also started a store in Dubuque and another in Potosi. In 1838 he shipped the first boat load of flour ever sent up the Mississippi River, and sold it at Galena at 120 per barrel. He removed from this latter place to Elizabeth, Ill., where he carried on mercantile business and mining for eight or ten years, whence he went to Carroll Co., and was engaged in the same enterprise, mining near Mt. Carroll. He lived there for eight or nine years, but unwisely went security for different parties, and was thereby financially ruined. He remembered that a few years previous he had purchased land in Madison, Wis., which had been sold for taxes. This, in the meantime, had become valuable, and he took steps to recover it, receiving therefore $15,000. He then went to Lyons, Iowa, and established a general store, which he operated two years, and was afterward a resident of Keokuk and Davenport, whence he returned to Lyons. Upon the breaking out of the Rebellion, he enlisted in an Illinois regiment and served three years, and upon his return from the army, settled in Amboy, Ill., where he died in 1867, from disease contracted in the army. He left a wife and four children; the former now lives in Monroe, Iowa. The mother of our subject, before her marriage, was Miss Harriet Sterling, of Virginia, who, by her union with Cyrus A. Harper, became the mother of four children, of whom John S. is the eldest; Margaret, Mrs. DeLare, lives at Moberly, Mo.; Charles is proprietor of the Madison House, Chicago; Mary, Mrs. Brown, lives at Glenwood Springs, Col.

John S. Harper was a lad of eight years when he removed with his mother to Galena. Three years later he returned to Kentucky, and entered the office of the Louisville Journal, as an apprentice to the art preservative, " under the instruction of the now well-known George D. Prentiss. He lived in the family of the latter for three years, working at his trade, and then returning to Illinois, he entered Mt. Morris Seminary, where he pursued a thorough course of study for another three years. Then, going to Freeport, he set type in the Journal office for two years, and since that time has been connected with various newspapers in the West, and earned the distinction of being the founder of more newspapers than any other man in the world, having started 152 in the States of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. These include the Freeport Journal, the El Paso Journal, Virginia Enquirer, Columbus Statesman, and Farmer City Republican, all of which were small offices compared with others now running. Mr. Harper came to Le Roy in the summer of 1886, and in his management of the Eagle has displayed excellent judgment, and met with success. He is a strong and forcible writer, with a good command of language, and both in his supervision of the mechanical and literary departments of the paper, has indicated rare judgment and good taste, and accordingly the paper has become a power for good in the community, and prospered.

Mr. Harper was married in November, 1860, to Miss Hannah V. Capper. Mrs. Harper is a native of Ohio, and by her union with our subject became the mother of two children, of whom only one, John M. C., grew to manhood. He was born in Marion, Iowa, Nov. 17, 1861, and died at Springfield, Ill., Oct. 29, 1883. He was a young man of great promise, a graduate of Virginia Seminary in Cass County, Ill., and at the time of his death was local editor of the Springfield Daily Republican. He was a worthy member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and prominently connected with the Young Men's Christian Association.

Upon the outbreak of the late war, Mr. Harper enlisted as a Union soldier in July, 1862, becoming a member of Co. G, 72d Ill. Vol. Inf., and serving until the close of the war. He was mustered in as Sergeant, and had been in the service but a few months when he was prostrated by sunstroke and confined in the hospital for some time. He recovered sufficiently to be present at the battles of Clarkesville, Corinth, Shiloh, Stone River [Stones River], Mission Ridge and minor engagements. During the last year of service, on account of impaired health, he was given the position of Clerk in the Provost Marshal's office. He is now a member of Lemon Post No. 211, G. A. R., at Farmer City. Both Mr. and Mrs. Harper are connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 622. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.

FOOTNOTE: Personal papers of Daniel Boone at the Wisconsin Historical Society


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