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Fayette County, Alabama
~ Harper Family of Marion and Fayette Counties ~

Generously contributed by
Louise Smith Hanson

Thomas HARPER b. 1802, VA, m. (1) in TN, (Unknown), b. (1800/1810), d. (aft 1840), (Warren Co., TN), m. (2) Mary E. --?--, b. abt 1817, TN, d. (after 1850), Marion Co., AL, m. (3) Mary Jane GRIGGS, b. 1829, AL, (dau of Jesse GRIGGS and Rebecca TUCKER) d. 1890, AL, bur. Old Poplar Cemetery near Winfield, Marion Co., AL.  Thomas died (after 1860), Marion Co., AL.

Thomas HARPER was the son of Josiah HARPER (1759-1838) and Sarah PARROTT (1761-1839) of Virginia and Tennessee.  Very little is known of Thomas' early life.  He was first married possibly in Smith Co., TN, where he was named in a lawsuit in 1835.  By the 1840 U.S. census, he had settled in nearby Warren County (p. 341).  His daughter Sarah (see #1 below) married there in 1842 but moved to northwest Alabama before the birth of her first child in 1843.  The HARPERs almost certainly arrived in Alabama at this same time.

The 1850 U.S. census finds the HARPER and McWHIRTER families living side by side in Marion Co., AL (p. 118).  Thomas clearly had remarried since the previous census, considering that his current wife (Mary E.) was only 8 years older than his daughter Sarah.  Together, he and Mary had at least one child (see #11 below) and perhaps as many as four.  The previous year (1849), Thomas had acquired from the federal government approximately 40 acres in Section 10, Township 13 South, Range 11 West — an area now bordered by Glen Allen to the west, Walker County to the east, and Fayette County to the south. 

The HARPERs attended Hopewell Baptist Church (located in present Fayette County), which Thomas represented as a delegate to the North River Baptist Association from 1855 to 1860.  During this same time period, he acquired several more federal land patents to the north and south of the church.  Thomas reported owning real property valued at $5,000 and personal property worth $1,500 on the 1860 census of Marion County (p. 615).  He then disappeared from the records and is supposed to have died before 1870.

If Thomas survived the Civil War, his final years were plagued by tragedy and grief.  Seven of his sons were old enough to have served in the conflict – three are known to have enlisted in the Union army, and at least two joined the Confederate army.  Of these seven brothers, four died from illness or wounds received during the war, and one was hanged as a Union sympathizer.  No military service records have been found for the other two brothers, but the evidence suggests that they too were lost during the deadly decade.  In addition, at least one of Thomas' sons-in-law died in the war.

Children by Unknown First Wife:

1. Sarah HARPER b. June 24, 1825, TN, m. June 7, 1842, in Warren Co., TN, Andrew Ferrier McWHIRTER, b. Nov 9, 1824, TN, d. Oct 23, 1862, Nashville, TN.  Sarah died Dec 28, 1883, AL, bur. O'Mary Cemetery, Marion Co., AL. [1]
2. Robert HARPER b. abt 1826, TN, m. Nov 20, 1851, in Walker Co., AL, Nancy Jane LANE, b. abt 1828, AL (daughter of Alfred G. LANE and Mariah PATE).  Robert died Mar 7, 1863, Corinth, MS. [2]
3. James W. HARPER b. abt 1829, TN, m. abt 1848, in AL, Sarah Drucilla BYARS, b. abt 1834, AL.  James died Oct 3, 1868, Galilee, Marion Co., AL. [3]
4. Mary Emoline HARPER b. abt 1832, TN, m. abt 1852, in AL, James R. TUCKER, b. May 26, 1826, AL, (son of George TUCKER Jr. and Milla ROBERTS).  Mary died before 1867, probably Marion Co., AL. [4]
Josiah Houston HARPER b. Mar 12, 1833, TN, m. Nancy Jane BERRYHILL, b. abt 1857, AL.  Josiah died Apr 22, 1864, bur. Hopewell Cemetery, Fayette Co., AL. [5]
Rebecca Jane HARPER b. abt 1836, TN, m. Daniel Webster TUCKER, b. May 26, 1825, AL, d. Dec 15, 1901, Union Parish, LA.  Rebecca died Dec 1, 1902, Union Parish, LA, bur. Zion Hill Cemetery. [6]
Thomas Wade HARPER b. abt 1839, TN, m. Mary Elizabeth LANE , b. Oct 3, 1841, AL, (daughter of John LANE and Phoebe WALDEN) d. June 1, 1922, Bell Co., TX.  Thomas died Sept 15, 1862, Knoxville, TN, bur. Bethel (Confederate) Cemetery. [7]

Children by Unknown Wife or Mary E. --?--:
8. Elisha Denton "Dent" HARPER b. abt 1841, TN, m. abt 1862, in AL, Lucinda Ann LYLE, b. abt 1840, GA, (daughter of John P. LYLE and Elizabeth NOLAND).  Dent died 1866/1870, AL. [8]
9. Tennessee Polk HARPER b. abt 1843, AL, d. Dec 9, 1862, bur. National Cemetery, Nashville, TN (grave #7159). [9]
George Washington HARPER b. July 1847, AL, m. Martha E. MORTON, b. 1847, AL, (daughter of John Franklin MORTON and Mary WHITEHEAD).  George died Feb 4, 1901, possibly in Lamar Co., AL (place of burial unknown). [10]

Child by Mary E. --?-- (may be others):
11. Jasper GREEN HARPER b. June 10, 1850, Marion Co., AL, m. (1) Dec 17, 1874, Mary Elizabeth HYDER, b. 1855, AL, d. 1898, bur. Hyder Cemetery, Fayette Co., AL, m. (2) Nov 4, 1899, Mattie GILREATH, d. 1903.  Green died 1925, AL, bur. New River Church of Christ Cemetery (unmarked).

Children by Mary Jane Griggs:
12. Martha Ann HARPER b. Sept 14, 1854, Marion Co., AL, m. Kimber Foster TUCKER, b. July 14, 1847, AL, d. June 30, 1922, OK   Martha died Sept 13, 1914, OK, bur. Talahina Cemetery, Leflore Co., OK. [12]
13. Nancy HARPER b. 1855, AL, m./d. before 1870 [census].
14. Malyssa (Melissa) A. HARPER b. June 1857, Marion Co., AL, m. June 28, 1888, in AL, Eligha J. WHITE (a.k.a. Lige White, E.J. White), b. July 1855, AL.  Melissa died in AR, date unknown.
15. Jesse HARPER b. 1860, Marion Co., AL, m. Sept 3, 1882, Sarah (Sallie) WHITEHEAD, b. 1862, Fayette Co., AL, d. 1959.  Jesse died 1942, AL, bur. Griggs Cemetery, Marion Co., AL. [13]

Please send additions/corrections to the compiler:
Louise Smith Hanson

1) Sarah Harper was married at her father's home, according to her application for pension.  Andrew McWhirter served in the First Alabama Cavalry, Co. K, USA, and died of measles in a Union hospital.

2) The 1860 census finds Robert Harper, his wife and their five children living "next door" to Nancy's father in Lampasas Co., TX.  The family evidently returned to Alabama before the Civil War.  Robert enlisted in the Union army, Co. B, First Alabama Cavalry, and died of measles while in the service.

3) James W. Harper served the Confederacy in the First Alabama Cavalry, Co. G.  He was wounded in battle and "sent home to die," which he did ... three years after the war ended.  James was survived by his wife and eight children born between 1849-1865 (source: Widow's Pension application).  Sarah Drucilla's maiden name, Byars, is proved by the death certificate of her daughter, Elizah Harper Love, who was born at Old Pikeville, Marion Co., AL.

4) Mary E. Harper was 18 on the 1850 census and was married a short time later.  James and Mary Harper Tucker were living in Astons Store Beat with other married children of Thomas Harper and very near to Thomas Harper's household in the 1860 Marion County census.  James Tucker had remarried by the 1870 census to a Didemy or Deniece (maiden name unknown).  Mary Harper had a son, Josiah Newton Tucker, who reared a large family in Fayette County.  She also had a daughter, Millie Alice Tucker, who married William Ira Barker of the "Barker Bunch" in Lamar Co., AL.

5) Josiah H. Harper enlisted in the Union's First Alabama Cavalry, Co. B.  On a return visit to his home, he was captured and killed by the Confederate Home Guards.  He left a wife and four children (source: Southern Claims Commission, John Lyons, Case No. 20850, Marion Co., AL).

6) Daniel W. Tucker served in the Civil War for the Confederacy in Texas.

7) Thomas W. Harper, a soldier in the 43rd Alabama Infantry, Co. H, CSA, was killed in the Battle of Knoxville.  His widow's pension application states that they had no children.  Thomas Wade Harper must have married Mary shortly before he joined the army.  He enlisted in 1862 and died about five months later, according to a request for bounty pay that Mary obtained for his service.  Mary and family left for Texas about 1869; she remarried in 1871 to John BOREN from Texas.  Her parents' full names were John Madison Lane and Phoebe Ann Walden (source: ADAH). 

8) Elisha Denton Harper married in the early 1860s and was last recorded on the 1866 Alabama state census.  He and Lucinda Lyle had two children: Mary E. Harper (1863-1900/1910) and John Thomas Harper (1865-1930).  Mary married James J. DUTTON, 1879, in Walker Co., AL – Lucinda Harper signed a handwritten note giving permission for her underaged daughter to marry (source: The Zachariah Dutton Genealogy Web); John T. Harper married Francis Evoline WELCH.  Lucinda A. Lyle Harper was recorded in the household with her father, John P. Lyle, and family in the 1880 census.  The nickname "Dent" was contributed by a great-granddaughter, June Harper Barton Symonds, of Jasper, AL.  

9) Tennessee P. Harper enlisted in the Union army and served in Co. K, First Alabama Cavalry.  His date of death was found in National Archives Service Records. 

10) George Harper's middle name and date of death provided by Penny Harper of Savannah, GA. (5/6/2011)

12) Kimber F. Tucker fought for the Confederate cause in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

13) Jesse and Sallie Whitehead Harper had 15 children.

1/30/2011 - Added maiden name for mother-in-law of George W. Harper (#10)  

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10 Oct 2004  |  07 May 2011