November 10, 2010

Robert David Harper, 1823-1890

In my last post I mentioned my great-great-grandfather Rev. Robert D. Harper and included a picture. I've checked the Web and found more information about him. (Thank you, internet!) Let me summarize what I discovered recently.

In the 1870 Census, I found him listed in Indianapolis, where a church report shows him serving as minister for the First Presbyterian Church. From the mostly-legible census page, I gather that his wife was named Sarah.
Robert Harper, 46 Clergyman born PA
Sarah Harper, 43 Keeping House b. PA
Nellie J. 21 at home b. Ohio
Mary 19 " b. Ohio
?__ (Lidie?) 17 " b. Ohio
John 16 Bank Clerk b. Ohio
Arthur 26 Book Keeper b. Arkansas


A domestic servant is listed as living in their household.

A seach using Google books took me to Frank Leslie's Sunday magazine, Volume 16. It has an article on Reverend Harper's misadventures while returning from Palestine and Egypt. He and his wife were quarantined along with some other passengers and then left on the shores of Italy where they had to make their way to Naples "as best they could." The article gives some additional background on Rev. Harper including:
  • During the Civil War he had charge of a hospital at Camp Dennison, Ohio and was commissioned by the governor to form a corps of civilians to look after the interests of Ohio soldiers. He spent most of the War in the Army of the Cumberland.
  • Subsequently he was Superintendent of Education for the State of Alabama.
  • Elected President of the Alabama University, he declined, preferring to return to the ministry.
I like to search different sources, and on Amazon I discovered that Robert David Harper wrote a book called The church memorial: containing important historical facts and reminiscences connected with the Associate and Associate Reformed churches, previous to ... United Presbyterian church of North America. Using that information, I found that it is partly viewable on Google books. I took a look but found it dull to read.

Picture of Camp Dennison

Postscript, 2014: I learned that Robert's wife was born Sarah C. Flemming (or Fleming). The 1880 census gives her birth date as 1830, although this does not quite match the above. In 1880, she and Dr. Harper were living in Philadelphia.

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