CHARLES S. HARPER, owner of a two hundred and seven acre farm in section 35 and section 2, Harrison township, feeds a good breed of cattle and hogs, and breeds fine Norman horses. He was born April 17, 1858, in the township where he now lives, and is a son of Alexander and Grace A. (Spiers) Harper. Alexander Harper was born May 4, 1828, in Pennsylvania, was reared to the age of nine years in Rockdale, now a part of the city of Philadelphia, and then went with his parents to Indiana. He lived there sixteen years with his parents, part of the time working away from home. He ran a flat boat to New Orleans for a time, and also worked at his trade of cabinet maker, both in Indiana and in Benton county, Iowa, to which place he removed in 1856. At the age of twenty-five years Mr. Harper married Grace A. Spiers, born in Indiana, in 1832, reared in her native state and there married; in 1856 she moved with her husband to Benton county, Iowa. She was a daughter of Robert and Margaret (Robertson) Spiers, of Scotland. Alexander Harper's parents were also natives of Scotland, the father, born in Paisley, and a weaver by trade. His name was also Alexander Harper, and he married Margaret Wilson; they came to Rockdale, Pennsylvania, in 1825, and in 1837 removed to Indiana, where they bought a farm and reared their family of nine children, remaining there the remainder of their lives.
In 1861 Alexander Harper, Jr., enlisted as private in Company D, Eighth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and the next year was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant, then to first lieutenant in 1863. Later he became captain of Company D, and was in continuous service until June 1, 1866; he was one of those who helped in reconstruction. Mr. Harper was present at the capture of Vicksburg, then participated in the ensuing series of battles, — Jackson, Spanish Fort, Corinth, Shiloh, in the "Hornets' Nest," and then went around in a gun-boat to Mobile Bay and helped in the capture of the city. His regiment was then stationed at Selma, Alabama, where it remained to the end of the war, under General Prentice and General Geddes, the latter of Harrison township, Benton county, Iowa. Mr. Harper visited home on a furlough.
During the war Mrs. Harper bore the whole responsibility of caring for their five children; she lived one year in the country and then moved to Vinton, where she remained until March, 1867. At the end of his service Mr. Harper came home and lived one year in Vinton, after which he removed to his farm of one hundred and twenty acres of raw prairie land and started to improve it. At the close of the war he started with very little capital to work upon, but by his perseverance and untiring energy he was able to build up his fortunes rapidly, and lived on the farm until his death January 27, 1893. His wife died March 3, 1891. Mr. Harper was greatly interested in political affairs, and the welfare of the nation, and was a great worker for the cause of the Republican party. When they first settled on their farm, there were but two houses between Vinton and Bear Creek, and they experienced all the trials and privations common to frontier conditions at that time.
The eldest son of Alexander Harper and his wife was Alexander Patterson Harper. He was born in Indiana March 13, 1854, and came with his parents to Iowa when two years of age. Pie remained with them until he attained his majority when he married Clara Gates. Following his marriage for one year he worked by the month on a farm and afterwards for a number of years rented land. Later for a few years he engaged in the clothing business at Urbana, after which he returned to the old home farm and while living there his first wife died. He afterward married for his second wife Alice Brock of Vinton. From the old farm he removed to Vinton where he has ever since lived, being engaged first in the plumbing business and later buying a dray line and running it for about three years. He now runs an express hack. The children of his first marriage are Grace and Nellie, and of his second Blanche, Earl, Cassie, Milo and Geniveve. He is a member of the Christian church and votes with the Republican party.
R. S. Harper, the second son of Alexander and Grace A. (Spiers) Harper, was born in Benton county, Iowa, in 1856; he remained on the home farm until twenty-one years of age, and taught school five years. He bought some land, rented a farm, later bought more land, on to which he moved and lived until 1904, when he purchased the old homestead where he still resides. He is a man of natural business ability, and has acquired a good education by his own efforts; after attending the common school he spent one year in Tilford Academy, and he has acquired considerable learning through private study, of his own volition. Mr. Harper is a Republican, an elder in the church of Christ, and a member of the blue lodge of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. He now owns two hundred acres of land in sections 27, 35 and 34 of Harrison township, where he carries on general farming, and does not raise much stock except horses and cattle for commercial purposes. June 15, 1881, he married Sarah J. Armstrong, who was born in New York city, and came to Indiana as an orphan, and later came to Iowa in care of J. L. Pauley. She is a daughter of Robert and Jane (McCauley) Armstrong, who came to New York city from Ireland. Mr. Harper and his wife have three children, namely: William, attending school in Des Moines; Jessie H., who died in infancy; and Edward Harland, at home.
W. W. Harper, the fourth son, was born in Harrison township March 26, 1861. He remained at home until his twentieth year when he went to Montana and worked on a ranch for several years. He returned home and married Etta Crawford and returning with her resumed his work on the ranch. He finally located in Anaconda, that state, and engaged first in the meat business, and then in the ice business, continuing in the latter line up to the present time. He is a Republican and in 1906 was elected state senator, the first candidate of his party to be elected to that office in his district. He has also served Anaconda as county clerk. He and his wife have had five children, Fern, Bessie, Edward and Harry and Howard, the former of whom is dead. W. W. Harper is a member of the Christian church.
J. Edward Harper the fifth son was born January 3, 1865, in Vinton, Iowa, where the family were living during the war. He stayed on the home farm until twenty years of age, taught school a few years, spent one year in Montana, and then returned home and worked one season on a farm. He returned to Montana and spent a year and a half, and then located in Iowa, where he rented a farm two years, after which he returned to the home farm and cared for his father. At the death of his father he settled on the farm where he now lives. He has made many improvements and has it all under cultivation, except fifteen acres of timber. He owns altogether one hundred and thirty-five acres of land in section 26, Harrison township.
In 1894 Mr. Harper married Adda, daughter of J. J. and Susan E. (Snell) Long, and they have three children, all living at home, namely: Anna Grace, Horace James and Ida Long. Mr. Harper is a Republican and the family are attendants of the Church of Christ, of Prairie Creek.
Charles S. Harper remained on the home farm until he reached his majority, and then worked out five years; after his marriage he rented land two years and then moved on his step-father-in-law's farm for six years and then bought the farm formerly owned by his father-in-law and has since resided there. Mr. Harper has proven a successful and able farmer, and is a self-made man. Since purchasing his father-in-law's farm he purchased in 1900 a farm of 100 acres which is a part of the two hundred and seven acres now owned by him. He has gained a position of prominence and trust in the community, where he has the respect and esteem of all.
Mr. Harper has held the office of township trustee, and has been actively interested in local politics. He is a director of the Benton county fair. In political views he is a Republican, and he belongs to the Church of Christ. He is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America.
Mr. Harper married Lillie F., daughter of James and Jane (Harper) Bunten, of Kentucky, who removed to Indiana and later to Iowa. Mrs. Harper was born in Pennsylvania, where her parents spent a short time before removing to Indiana. When they settled in Iowa, in 1867, they located on the farm now occupied by Mr. Harper. Mr. Harper and his wife have children as follows: Ethel, a stenographer in Vinton; Clara, at home; Emma Frances; Bertha Belle and James Alexander.