My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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GEORGE W. HARPER, President of the Bank of Cedarville, Greene County, was the chief mover in the establishment of this institution which was started in 1888, and which is already doing an extensive business. It is the only bank in the village and deals in exchange, loans and discounts, also making collections throughout the United States and having correspondence with New York and Cincinnati. Mr. Harper is one of the prominent men of this county and by his enterprise and liberality has largely aided its growth and prosperity. There are many interesting events connected with his life and antecedents which are well worth preserving to the family.

The subject of this notice was born May 30, 1825, on Massey’s Creek, near Selma, this county, and has spent his entire life in the place of his birth. He took up his abode in Cedarville in 1865, and is now the owner of a number of fine farms in this vicinity, all of which property he has gathered together by his own exertions. He was the third in a family of five children, the offspring of Thomas and Mary (Surlat) Harper, who were natives respectively of Virginia and Maryland. The paternal grandfather was John Harper after whom Harper’s Ferry, Va., was named. The ferry during the early days was owned by his brother Thomas, who operated a boat at that point many years prior to his death.

Grandfather Harper was a stern old patriot and carried a musket in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He came to this county in the pioneer days and spent the closing years of his life in Ross Township, Greene County, Ohio. On his mother’s side the grandparents of our subject were George and Elizabeth Surlat, whom it is probable were natives of Maryland and who traced their ancestry to France. The Harpers are of Welsh extraction.

George W. remained under the parental roof until a youth of eighteen years and had, even at that early age, evinced more than ordinary business capacity. He now proceeded to Indiana on an enterprise of his own and purchasing a lot of cattle, drove them to Lancaster, Pa., where he sold them at a good profit. He repeated the experiment with like success and finally extended his operations as far as Springfield, Ill., driving cattle through from that point to Philadelphia, Pa. In the meantime when in Springfield, he boarded in the same house with Abraham Lincoln, whose acquaintance he formed and with whom he became upon terms of friendship. Mr. Harper recalls many incidents connected with that acquaintance, remembering the martyred President as a man of most kindly impulses and one whose genuine goodness of heart was recognized by all.

Young Harper continued in the cattle trade for about eight years and then commenced buying land in this county. He had in the meantime purchased land warrants for eighteen hundred acres in Illinois and sold this at a good profit. He is now the owner of twelve hundred acres in this State the greater part of which is in Greene County, and he has twenty-five hundred acres in Missouri which is well improved. He has always been warmly interested in the development of his town and county and has put up a number of fine buildings in Cedarville, including his residence — a handsome modern structure, set in the midst of ample grounds and which forms one of the attractive features of that town. This is a brick structure, 40x60 feet in dimensions, two stories in height and finely finished within and without. It was completed in the fall of 1880.

Mr. Harper was married September 18, 1860, in South Charleston, Ohio, to Miss Vinna M. Murray. Mrs. Harper was born in 1834, in South Charleston, and is a daughter of George and Lovina Murray, who were natives of New York and Kentucky, and both are deceased, having died in South Charleston. She is a lady of fine appearance and strong character and in all respects the suitable partner of such a man as her husband; they have no children. Both Mr. and Mrs. Harper are members in good standing of the Methodist Church, to which they contribute a generous support. Mr. Harper cast his first Presidential vote for Gen. Taylor and since becoming a voting citizen has steadfastly maintained his adherence to the Democratic party. He has been quite prominent in local affairs and was at one time the nominee of his party for State Treasurer, besides other minor offices. The party being in the minority, he suffered defeat as he expected.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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