HARPER, James, of Hart Co KY

From 3 Mar 2014: Genealogical success! After 40+ years and 20+ years since my parents and I made a disastrous trip in to the remotest corner of Kansas to check records which proved to be chaotic and unfocused, my Frances (Harper) (Meredith) Pedigo has been shown to be a daughter of James and Mary Harper. 
For those who criticize Ancestry.com, it is worth noting that a transcript of an 1856 letter from Frances’s Meredith son to her Harper brother was posted there on December 26th and I found it yesterday.

James Harper died in Hart County, Kentucky, after December 1819. His widow, Mary (Woosley) Harper, born between 1774 and 1794, died before January of 1823.

A few records from 1815 to 1823 exist with the names of James or his widow Mary Harper. James was the recipient of a 250-acre land grant in Barren County, Kentucky, on 16 November 1815.[1] And an 1819 tax list for Hart County, included Isaac Harper, Hanse Harper, Samuel Harper Sr, Samuel Harper Jr, Matthew Harper, James Harper, and Jonathan Harper.[2]

Mary Harper was listed in the 1820 census for Munfordville in that same county as follows: 210000/21010.[3]

The approximate dates of their deaths and the names of three of their children are known due to the survival of one book of court orders. When the Hart County, Kentucky, courthouse burned in 1928, one book had been taken home by a judge and was saved. In 1955, a transcript was made of this surviving book, and Harpers appear on several pages, including James and his widow Mary. Among Harper references in the book are:

  1. In May of 1819, James Harper was on a road crew[4] that included Romeo Crump, Hance Harper’s son-in-law, as overseer and also Sam Harper, Jr., Silas Harper, Nathan Harper, William Harper, Hance Harper, Black Frank,[5] Mathias Reynolds, Charles Reynolds, R. H. Bird, Wm. Bird, John Leech, Henry Leech, Joseph Leech, Niles [sic] Brooks, Archer Crump, Wm. Lock. James was listed first.
  2. In November, 1819, James Harper was on another road crew.[6]
  3. A month later, James Harper was ordered to view a proposed alteration to a road in Hart County.[7]
  4. In June 1820, James Harper’s will was produced in court by his widow Mary. The will was proven by the oath of Samuel Harper, Sr, and his probable sons, Samuel and Silas. Hance Harper was security.[8] The will was apparently nuncupative, from which we might infer that James died suddenly.
  5. Immediately following on the original page is the court order for appraising James’s personal estate and slaves, “if any.”[9]
  6. By January, 1823, Mary had died and several items were addressed in a single court session.[10]
  7. In May 1823, Isaac Harper was named as the guardian of James Harper’s “infant Heir” Frances.[11]

Willis and William

It is the items from 1823 that are the most significant for this study. They identify three of the six (or seven) children of James and Mary Harper. These three may have been the youngest; two boys were bound to Joshua Woosley, now believed to have been Mary’s brother, and Isaac Harper was named as guardian to “an infant” named Frances. Since Hart County Harper families named both boys and girls Frances, it is probable that a baby boy was intended and not the girl shown below to be a sister of Willis Burton Harper.[12] The child’s brother William W Harper had both a daughter named Frances and a son named Francis.[13]

Both Willis Burton and William W Harper moved west and were married twice, had children and died in Missouri. Willis at least went to the California Gold Rush with his nephew, William Meredith, and others, but returned to his family by 1854. Willis is buried in Bethany, Harrison County, Missouri, with dates on his gravestone of 1 June 1813-1 November 1894.[14] William was reportedly murdered in his doorway in Missouri sometime after the end of the Civil War.

In his censuses, Willis’s age varies; he was listed as 28 in 1850,[15] 40 in 1860,[16] 59 in 1870,[17] and 65 in 1880.[18] William’s 1850 census shows age 38,[19] and 1860 shows age 47.[20] Neither man is identified in 1830 or 1840.

At the time they were bound to Joshua Woosley in 1823, therefore, they were likely between ages 8 and 11, with a chance that Willis was even younger.

Since there were several adult Harpers at that time who witnessed James’s will, posted bond or appeared in court, this researcher wondered why Joshua Woosley was appointed to teach farming to and raise the two of James and Mary Harper’s sons. Might he have been Mary’s father? However, in 1820 he had only daughters in his household, and it may be simply that he wanted help. Joshua Woosley also replaced Hance Harper as treasurer of the Green River Baptist Church when Hance died.[21] An online discussion revealed the possibility that he had daughters from an early marriage, although this does not seem likely at this writing (August 2018).[22]

James’s Parents

In Hart County, Kentucky, there were several generations of Harpers living simultaneously in the area. Although James Harper was obviously part of an extended family in Hart County, Kentucky, the identity of his parents is not known. This might be clearer if the record of his and Mary’s marriage had been located. In addition to giving Mary’s maiden name, that record would give clues to his age and location. Hart County records suggest that he was the son of either Hance [Jr], Samuel [Sr], or Matthew, all thought to be sons of Hance Harper Sr of Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

James’s will provides the suggestion that Hance Harper was his father, since Hance served as surety. But the will was witnessed by Samuel Harper and his two likely sons, either because they were the closest neighbors or possibly Samuel was James’s father.

Hance Harper moved to Kentucky before 1800[23]; he was in “Second Census of Kentucky,” p 126: Hance Harper, Barren Co, 9/10/1800.[24] He was a leader of the Green River Baptist Church, cited frequently in the minutes to advise others and as a trustee to help construct the church.

Matthew Harper received a Barren County land grant in 1806,[25] was married in Barren County in 1807[26] and received by letter into Green River Baptist Church in 1809.[27] He was in the 1810 census for Barren County.

An 1815 land survey shows Samuel Harper was in Barren Co by that date and a church record also names him and his wife Elizabeth[28]; more than once Samuel and his wife were reconciled with effort by church members.

As seen in their 1820 censuses, all three early Harpers were born before 1775, possibly before 1765. Households in Hart County is 1820 were listed in alphabetical order. Within the “H” entries, they appears as follows[29]:

Isaac Harper, 26-45, another male 16-26

Then two households, then

Stephen Harper, 26-45

…13 households…

Hance Harper, over 45, another male 26-45

…1 household…

Matthew Harper, over 45

…14 households…

Sam’l Harper, 16-26

…4 households…

Sam’l Harper, over 45

…4 households…

Mary Harper, female 26-45 [widow of James]

Silus Harper, 16-26

Wm Harper, 26-45

Jonathan Harper, 26-45

Several Harper marriages were recorded in early Barren County,[30] as follows:

Harper, Marston G, married Mariah Tunstal, 17 Mar 1806

Harper, Matthew, married Reynolds, Judah, 11 Dec 1807

Harper, Elizabeth, married James T Tunstall, 23 Mar 1809

Harper, Jonathan, married Reynolds, Dosha, 22 Oct 1810

Harper, Rhody, married Crump, Romeo, 30 Jan 1812

Harper, Isaac, married Light, Hester, 10 Mar 1814

Harper, Mary, married Locke, William, 8 Dec 1814

Harper, William, married Locke, Nancy, 1 Mar 1815

Harper, Elizabeth, married Crump, Archibald, 16 Mar 1815

Harper, Samuel, married Smith, Sarah, 9 Dec 1815

Harper, Matthew, married Richardson, Sarah, 19 Dec 1815

Harper, Silas, married Taylor, Betsey, 5 Jan 1817

Harper, John, married Harris, Jinney, 9 Oct 1817

Harper, Hiram, married Harper, Nancy, 6 May 1824

Hance Harper, Jr

           Hance Harper of Hart County, Kentucky, was born say 1765 in Virginia and died about June 1821[31] in Hart County, Kentucky. He was a member of Green River United Baptist Church, of Hart County. It appears from church records that his wife was named Rhoda, also called Nancy.

Hance and Matthew were both in the 1810 census, Barren County, Kentucky,, Hance Harper: 00211/12201; and Matthew Harper: 22010/20100. Hance’s wife seems to have been called both Nancy and Rhoda; one daughter has two death records, one naming Rhoda as her mother and a year later with the same day and cause of death naming Nancy. Along with Matthew, Ann Harper joined the church in 1809, but none of his three wives was Ann; she may be the oldest daughter. Almost immediately, Matthew started having problems with church order. The next Harpers to be added to the Green River Baptist Church rolls were Samuel and his wife, Elizabeth, before 1815, then Isaac and Hester in 1820, and “Dosity,” who asked for a letter of transfer in 1821.

There is only one known list of members of this church, and other members of this family were not mentioned in church records. Maybe they neither assumed leadership roles nor got into trouble. They were, in the 4th generation:

  • James, who owned land by 1815, had a wife Mary, six children born 1804-1820
  • Jonathan, who married Doshy Reynolds, 22 Oct 1810 in Barren County, Kentucky,
  • Isaac, who married Hester Light, 19 Mar 1813
  • William, who married Nancy Locke, 1 Mar 1814
  • Silas, who married Elizabeth Taylor, 5 Jan 1817
  • Samuel, Jr, who married Sarah Smith, 11 Oct 1817
  • Hiram, who married Nancy (Locke) Harper, his cousin’s widow, 6 May 1824
  • Stephen, who had four daughters in 1820
  • Robert, who had four sons by 1830

It is my guess that Hance Sr and his wife Elizabeth had three sons Matthew, Samuel and Hance Jr,[32] who were the fathers of the 4th generation Harpers. Probably there was also a Robert. Matthew, the brother of Hance Harper Sr, moved to Tennessee, died there, and had a son Matthew Jr, who is not the Matthew of Hart County.

Samuel’s 1810 census has not been located.[33] In 1820, he had a son under 10 and another under 16 and two daughters the same ages.

Hance Jr was in Barren County, Kentucky, by 1800.[34] By 1810, his household included five daughters and three sons, two sons over 16 and one over 26. His oldest children were born in the early 1790s, which would fit a guess as to James’s age. If James’s widow’s 1820 census is correct, he had at least two children born before 1810, so he was not a married son residing in his father’s household.

In 1820, Hance’s census appears in recently formed Hart County, Kentucky, reads: 000011/00112. The unmarried son was probably Hiram.[35] It is doubtful a married son was living with his parents, unless his name has been totally lost; all the known Harpers born before 1794 in that county were heads of households in 1820 except Hiram and Robert. Of the five daughters in 1810, two or three seem to be still at home. Since known daughters of Hance and his wife are Rhoda, who married Romeo Crump 30 Aug 1812, Elizabeth, who married Archibald Crump, 16 Mar 1815, and Mary, who married first William Locke, 8 Dec 1814, and second William Vaughn, circa 1831, there must have been another female in the family in 1820. The other two sons in 1810 can only be guessed at.

Elizabeth and Mary are identified in their death records as daughters of Hance Harper.[36] Two daughters and one son were apparently still at home in 1820. The married sons were possibly Isaac and William. James was already married by 1810, if his 1820 census is correct.

Matthew Harper

Matthew was married three times and reportedly had 24 children.[37] As with much information about this man, these facts come from his family Bible, in which he wrote that his first marriage, to Elizabeth Pierce, took place in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, on 21 April 1794; the two marriages of Matthew in Barren County are his second and third wives.[38] The first Barren County marriage indicates he was in Kentucky by 1807. Matthew’s 1810 in that county census reads: 22010/20100.[39] None of the six children living with Matthew and his second wife is old enough to have been James. His older children are missing, possibly working for other families.

Samuel Harper Sr

      It has been claimed that Samuel was at Boonesboro Fort, Kentucky, from 1779-1783.[40] He may have been the man in Pendleton County, South Carolina,[41] in 1790, 1800 and 1810, but was in Hart County in 1820, but only Samuel Jr was there in 1830.

In the 1820 census, two heads of households named Samuel Harper, one over 45 and the other 16-26.

So it appears that by 1820 or earlier there were three Harper men in Hart County who were old enough to have sons in their 20s, if not older. These were Hance Harper, who is in Barren County records before 1800, Matthew Harper, and Samuel Harper, all on pages 160 and 161.

Census records for these men, who were obviously brothers or cousins, are not consistently available: Hance Harper was in Barren County in 1800[42] and 1810 and Hart County[43] in 1820; Matthew was in Hart County in 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840[44];

The notes from Matthew’s Bible indicate he was in Tennessee in 1807 and that he had eight sons before 1815 and one or two more before the 1820 census; of these five were still in his household. It is guesswork to think Jonathan,[45] who married a likely relative of Matthew’s second wife, was one of the other sons. “Dosity,” as Docia (Reynolds) Harper was called, seems to be a widow by 1821 when she asked the Green River Baptist Church for a letter of dismission. Jonathan does not appear in further censuses, although a daughter was reportedly married in 1831 in Union County, Kentucky. She was back in Hart County by 1850.

Previously Known Facts about Frances (Harper) Meredith Pedigo

For many years, this researcher and others have tried to determine exactly where in this Hart County, Kentucky, Harper family our Frances (Harper) (Meredith) Pedigo fits. The documents we have for her are few, as follows:

  1. Statements were made by several of her grandchildren in 1966 that she had an earlier marriage to a Mr. Meredith, and that her Pedigo children had a half-brother named William Meredith.
  2. Her 1835 marriage certificate, as Frances H Meredith, to Elijah Pedigo. The H is not written clearly.
  3. The fact that the witness at her marriage was Ransom Harper.
  4. One daughter’s 1919 death certificate that says she was Frances Harper. Berry R Pedigo’s death certificate said Mary Harper.[46]
  5. Her only certain census in 1840 with Elijah Pedigo, Hart County, Kentucky, page 202: 101001/100001,[47] which places her birth date as 1800-1810; Elijah was born in 1809. The children in this year were likely William Meredith, Jesse L Pedigo and Martha Hester Pedigo. Another son, George Walter Pedigo, has been claimed for the couple, but evidence now shows a different relationship.[48]
  6. The fact that in 1840, Elijah and Frances Pedigo were next door to Merriman Harper.
  7. 1836-38 tax lists, in which Elijah Pedigo was listed with four children.[49]
  8. The assumption that Frances was dead by 1850, when her children were spread among various unrelated families and her husband Elijah was living with Ellen (–) Pedigo, assumed to be his second wife.
  9. A newly discovered affidavit signed in 1916 by her daughter, Amanda Frances (Pedigo) Bishop, names the children of Frances and Elijah Pedigo and affirms that after the death of their mother, the children were bound out to other families.
  10. The fact that Ransom Harper and Jacob L Harper were witnesses at the 1866 marriage of Frances’s son Berry Rowlett Pedigo.

On 2 March, 2014, the solution was found at Ancestry.com: a letter written by William (middle initial unclear) Meredith to his uncle, Willis Burton Harper of Harrison Co MO.[50]

In 1856 Willis received the following letter from his nephew, William J. (or T.) MARIDETH, who was in the gold fields of California:

Klammeth County California June the 26 1856

Dear uncle,`

I gladly Imbrace this opportunity once more of conversing with yu by letter. Altho i thot that yu had fergotten me. I am yeit in the land of the living, I have Not Received a letr  from any of yu cinc yu left heare with issak very strang that yu never wrot. I begin to think that yu Did not think of me often as yu would of wrot to me. Now I want yu to writ whethtether yu entered the land that yu said that yu wrot when yu got Home to me. If yu hav Not i want yu to git me a good Place and i will satisfy yu for it when I returne. I have had bad luck since you left here, But have now got a good claim and I think that I will be able to satisfy you for it. I want yu to writ where my sister is a living and who she is aliving with, and I want yu to tell her that I am acoming home Next spring if life and helth Permits.

Now I dont want yu to Faile to Procure that land for me and if you want the money before I come home i will send it to yu and i want yu to writ and let me no whether — the money that i sent Permits.
Now I dont want yu to Faile to Procure that land for me and if you want the money before I come home i will send it to yu and i want yu to writ and let me no whether — the money that i sent arrived or not. Now I want yu to write Every month and i will. I want yu to write whether yu heare from the Folks in Kentucky or not. so no more at Presant.

But remains your Nephew until deth.

Wm. J [or T.] Marideth

Now Willis Harper i wish to Be remembered to yu tho i do not no whether it will be recifted or not. i wold (would) like to sea yu and crack a joke. so no more.

Wm. B [looks like Alderson or Allen?]

O But Stop- Wm J [or T] and me is mining together and will remain together until we return Home.

The most basic facts obtained from this letter are that in 1856 a man named Willis Burton Harper had a nephew named William Meredith, and that William had a sister Willis may have known about.

Other posts by Nadene Snyder at Ancestry.com include details about Willis Burton Harper, his parents and his siblings.

Therefore, we can assume that Frances in 1820 was one of the daughters in the household of Mary Harper, James’s widow, along with brothers, Willis Burton and William W, and three other children.

Ransom Harper

           As noted above, Ransom Harper was a witness at the 1835 marriage of Frances (Harper) Meredith and Elijah Pedigo. With Jacob Locke Harper, son of Hiram and Nancy (Locke) Harper and his son-in-law, Ransom was also a witness in 1866 when Frances’s son, Berry Rowlett Pedigo, married Martha Jane Gossett.

Ransom Harper is in the 1840 census, age 20-30, next door to Samuel Harper, two households away from Matilda[51] Harper, and on the same page, 199, with widows Nancy Lock, Mary Vaughan and Hester Harper; on page 202, Merriman Harper’s family was next door to Elijah Pedigo. Silas and Matthew are on page 191.[52]

Was Ransom Harper a brother of Frances, possibly the third brother from the 1820 census? Ransom’s accepted birth date is 1814.

Both Ransom and Merriman Harper have been assumed to be sons of Silas Harper by an earlier marriage, since Silas married Elizabeth Taylor in 1817, and about the same time his probable brother Samuel married Sarah Smith. I have assumed that Frances may be a sister of Ransom and/or Merriman. None of these was with Silas in his 1820 census; they do fit with his possible father Samuel Sr.

Isaac’s children’s names are known. Only Jonathan, Isaac, James, or one of the older generation men could have been Ransom’s father.[53]

Which Meredith married Frances Harper?

A posting at Genforum says: “All Merediths whatever the spelling from Hart, Edmonson and Grayson Counties in Kentucky descend from Joseph “Old Joe” Meredith who was born 1763 in Loudon County, Virginia. “Old Joe” settled on Rock Creek in Hardin or Nelson County, Kentucky in 1809, the following year Grayson County was formed and that area was encompassed in the new county. Old Joe built a flour or gristmill on Rock Creek. The deed for this a property is in the Grayson County Courthouse. A community grew up around the area around the mill became known as Grayson Springs.”

Several children of my ancestor, Berry Rowlett Pedigo, told me in 1966 that their father had an older half-brother, William Meredith, from the mother’s first marriage. This fits with the 1835 marriage bond of Elijah Pedigo and Frances H[arper] Meredith.

There was a William Meredith who lived in Hart County, Kentucky, with his wife Rebecca and their children. In 1850 he or someone else gave his age as 25, in 1860 as 39 (called Chas. but with the same wife and children), in 1870 as 52, and in 1880 as 40. Several gedcoms at Ancestry.com identify the wife as Rebecca Caswell and say William’s parents were Alexander and Sarah (Brunk) Harper. However, the researchers who list this couple’s seven children do not include William. The only exception lists ten children, including “Charles William.” Modern Meredith family researchers may place this William in the wrong family, but I am still searching for the right one.

The only census that we know that lists Frances (Harper) (Meredith) Pedigo was in 1840 when she was listed as 30-40, that is, born 1800-1810; her son, if he lived with the family, was 10-15. By 1850, her children were living with other families and her husband had a new wife, Ellen. By that year, William Meredith was married with five children aged 7 and under.

Whom did Frances marry as her first husband? When? Most of the Merediths in this area are known, but Frances’s husband remains a mystery. Was he in Hart County, Kentucky, in 1820? Were they married already?

1820, Hart County, Kentucky,

Salley Merrydith            031100/30010

Wm Merrydith            000100/10100

This William Meredith was still in Hart County, Kentucky, in 1840 and then in Grayson County, Kentucky, in 1850 with his wife Frances, still living.

Was there still another Mr. Meredith back there in early Kentucky, possibly not even related to “Old Joe”?

I am still looking.

© Kathy Alvis Patterson, 2008, revised 2014


Copied here are all known references to Harpers in the Green River Baptist Church Minutes, followed by my own observations. Kathy Patterson

From Hart County KY Archives. Church Records. Green River Baptist Church. Date 1803 [and later]. Copyright. All rights reserved. File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by Sandi Gorin, 8 Sep 2004. http://files.usgwarchives.net/ky/hart/churches/gbb18greenriv.txt

Hart County KY Archives Church Records

“The minutes of this church run only from 1803-1827 which I transcribed with assistance from two late researchers. The membership list is shown at the beginning of the book and most of the members were shown as dismissed or dead. It shows no dates. They possibly were the charter members [No Harpers]… Another membership list follows with no notations as to the status [including these Harpers]: Nancy HARPER, Ann HARPER, Elizabeth HARPER, Hance HARPER, Matthew HARPER, Samuel HARPER.


1808: Feb: Hance HARPER & Thomas WOODSON to confer with William BELL for finishing the meeting house.

1809: Mar: Hance HARPER & REYNOLDS to be ordained as deacons at May meeting, Dripings Springs & Beaver Dam churches to assist.

May: Received by letter Precilla OWEN & Matthew HARPER. Bros ROWLETT, WILSON and HARPER messengers to association.

Aug: Received by experience Ann HARPER, Sarah DURBIN & Patsy RICHARDSON.


1810: Feb: case of brother HARPER resumed, had been investigated, acquitted.

Jun: Bros. WILSON & H HARPER to cite sister MONROE to come to next meeting.

Aug: H HARPER & J BROOKS to labor with sister MONROE. Appt Bro. H HARPER & GADDY as trustees to employ sawyer on the best terms can to lay the plant to finish the meeting house.

Dec: Bro H HARPER to buy nails to finish the meeting house.


1811: Oct – Recvd by experience Matthew MIDDLETON and by letter Sam’l & Elizabeth HARPER.


1813: Apr – Matthew HARPER acknowledged he had been in a riot, cause held.

May – Matthew HARPER acquitted.

Oct – Committee appt to settle business of a temporal nature – Hance HARPER, Thomas WOODSON, John WILSON, Rich’d J MUNFORD and Peter ROWLETT appt.


1814: Jan – H HARPER applied letter of dismission in behalf of Bro WILLIAMSON & wife, granted.

Apr – Bro S HARPER in behalf of Sister LOBB applied to letter of dismission, granted.


1815: Feb – Matthew HARPER restored… Committee to visit Sam’l HARPER & wife re difficulty between them.

Mar – Committee report on the HARPERs report no chance of reconcilliation. Brethren DAVIDSON & ROWLETT to go back and labor with them again.

Apr – Committee report on the HARPERs – not living according to church rules – Matthias REYNOLDS to go see them for the 3rd time.

May – HARPERs agreed to forgive each other and bear each other’s burdens and live together as man and wife.


1816: Apr: Released Bro MUNFORD as treasurer & H HARPER appt in his stead.

Jul – M REYNOLDS, H HARPER & J BROOKS appt trustees for laying the floor of the gallery and employee someone to do this.


1817: Jan – Matt HARPER came before church, acknowledged he had been drunk – excluded.

May – Samuel HARPER declared non-fellowship with his wife, they had separated – committee of WILSON, ORCHARD & SMITH to talk to them.


1821: Mar – Joshua WOOSLEY appt Treasurer in place of Bro Hanse HARPER, decd. Sep – Sister Dosity HARPER applied for “a letter of dismission,” granted.


1823: Mar- Letter presented to the church from members of the church for dismission in order to form a new church: Will WILLIAMSON, Geo BROOKS, Edith BROOKS, James WILLIAMSON, Polly WILLIAMSON, Susan GRINSTEAD, Joshua WOOSLEY, Polly WOOSLEY, Hiram HARPER, Maria WILSON, E S SLEMON, Miles BROOKS, Geo AMOS, John SMITH, Joseph LEACH, Jacob KESSINGER and Lydia KESSINGER. (new church not named). James BROOKS appt Treasurer instead of Joshus WOOSLEY (leaving).


1824: May – Isaac HARPER to Salem plus private letters to Bro DEWEESE & PETTY by WILSON and MAXEY.


1825: Jun – Romeo CRUMP and wife (nee HARPER) cited to July meeting on a serious charge.

Jul – The CRUMPS not present but acknowledged their guilt, excluded.


  1. Hance Harper was respected as honest and trustworthy, capable of many tasks, whether spiritual, financial and physical.
  2. Neither Samuel nor Matthew is mentioned after they joined the church, except as needing discipline.
  3. Although various members of the younger generation were married by the dates of these minutes, none participated much in the church, either as responsible members or as troublemakers.
  4. The membership list was probably written after 1811 when Samuel joined the church with his wife Elizabeth.
  5. Ann Harper, assuming she was the daughter of Matthew, was unmarried in 1809, and not mentioned again, unless under a married name.
  6. Minutes of several nearby churches are not posted on the Internet.

Minutes of the Green River Baptist Church, copied by Sandi Gorin, along with other early documents, are also available at http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/south-central-kentucky/2004-04/1083158272.

[1] Barren County Land Grants, Barren County, Kentucky usgenweb site, http://www.barrencoky.com/landgrants/landH.html. Other Harpers receiving land were an otherwise unknown Mary Harper, 200 acres on Sinks Beaver Creek, in July 1799; Hance Harper, eight grants of between 25 and 200 acres each, totaling 785 acres, between 4 July 1804 and 9 August 1817; and Matthew Harper, two grants totaling 300 acres, both on 27 Nov 1804. One of Hance’s grants was eleven days after James’s. Only Mary’s grant gives a place name. The Harpers were in the part of Barren County that later became Hart County.

[2] Hart County, Kentucky, Historical Society Quarterly II, 1, p 6f. It is likely that Hance, Matthew and Samuel Sr were brothers or first cousins, with Isaac being Hance’s son, Jonathan being Matthew’s son, and Samuel Jr being Samuel’s. So the place of James in this family is unclear. Matthew had a younger son by his third wife, born in 1823 named James Riley Harper.

[3] 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Munfordville, Hart, Kentucky; Page: 161; NARA Roll: M33_17; Image: 176.

[4] First County Court Order Book of Hart County, Kentucky, saved from the fire that destroyed the Hart County Court House January 3, 1928. Judge H. A. Watkins had it in his office. This [typed] copy made by Roy A. Cann, 1955, 3. “[Original] Page 8. At a County Court commenced and held for Hart County at the house of Thomas Woodson, the 3rd. of May, 1819…. It is ordered that Romeo Crump be appointed overseer of that part of the Salt Works road leading from Woodsonville to Glasgow from the forks of said road to John Humphrey and that the following hands be allowed him to keep the same in repair 30 feet wide as the law directs, James Harper, Sam Harper, Jr., Silas Harper, Nathin [sic] Harper, Wm. Harper, Hance Harper, Black Frank, Mathias Reynolds, Charles Reynolds, R. H. Bird, Wm. Bird, John Leech, Henry Leech, Joseph Leech, Niles [sic] Brooks, Archer Crump, Wm. Lock.” [A second group of road hands included Isaac Harper and Jacob Light.]

[5] Ibid, 11. Hance Harper signed an emancipation document for his slave Frank, July 1819. “Hanse Harper came into court and produced letters of emancipation freeing certain negro man, Frank, slave and property of said Harper and acknowledged the said letter of emancipation, whereupon [the said] Harper with Jas. Brooks his security, executed and ack’d bond in the sum of $500. Conditioned for the support of Sd negro in case of future liability.”

[6] Ibid, 19. “Page 54 November term 1819… It is ordered that the following hands be allotted Robert Bird who is surveyor of the Burksville road in addition to those already allotted to him [many are illegible due to poor photocopy, but these can be made out: A Crump, Wm Lock, Hanse Harper, Wm Harper, Miles Brooks, Jas Harper].”

[7] Ibid, 20. “Page 58 [continued from December 1819] It is ordered that Miles Brooks, Jeremiah Wilson, Hanse Harper, James Harper or any three of whom being 1st sworn be appointed to view a proposed alteration of the road leading from Woodsonville to Glasgow…”

[8] Ibid, 31. “Page 93    [continuation of June court 1820] The last will and testament of James Harper, Dec’d (being a mancupated [nuncupative?] will) was produced into court by Mary Harper and proven by the oath of Samuel Harper, Sen. & Silas Harper to the act and deed of the said James Harper, Dec’d

“On the motion of Mary Harper, who made oath as the law directs & for reasons appearing to the court certificates is granted her for obtaining letters of administratrix with the will annexed of Jas. Harper, Dec’d on her giving bond and security agreeable to law whereupon the said Mary Harper with Hanse Harper her secutiry [sic] executed and Axk’d bond in the sum of $400. conditioned as the law directs.”

[9] Ibid, 32. “Page 94 June Court 1820 On motion of Mary Harper it is ordered that Dudley Roundtree, Philip Maxey, Joseph W. Wiltberger in current money the personal estate and slaves if any of James Harper, Dec’d & make report there of to next court.” Some words seem to be missing from the statement. Later on the same page several men including “Jo W Wiltberge” are ordered to “appraise the personal estate and slaves if any of” another deceased man.”

[10] Ibid., 87. “Page 272 January Term 1823 [Order for the viewing of a road…] to run from Polly Harper on the Glasgow road to a county… [immediately followed on the docket by the following.]

It is ordered that the clerk bind out William Harper and Willis Burton Harper to Joshua Woosley to learn the art and mystery of farming according to law.

Page 273 [immediately following the above item] A list of sales of the estate of James Harper, Dec’d was this day returned into court which being examined and approved of was ordered to be recorded.

An inventory and appraisement of the estate of Polly Harper, deceased was this day returned into court, which being examined and approved of was ordered to be recorded

[11] Ibid. 87. “Page 294. It is ordered that Isaac Harper be and he is hereby appointed guardian to Frances Harper, infant heir of James Harper, Dec’d whereupon he the said Harper executed and

Page 295. Acknowledged bond in the penalty of $100. Conditioned with Joseph Owen his security conditioned as the law directs.”

[12] Frances (Harper) Meredith’s son William was born about 1818-1821 (see below). She was likely married and seems too old to have been called “infant heir.”

[13] The daughter, Helen Frances Harper, was the eldest of William’s children; her full name and date of death are given in family records.

Compare the death certificate of the son Francis A Harper (Ancestry.com. California, Death Index, 1905-1939 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: California Department of Health and Welfare. California Vital Records-Vitalsearch {www.vitalsearch-worldwide.com}. The Vitalsearch Company Worldwide, Inc., Pleasanton, California) with his presence in the 1860 census.) with his census record, from 1860 through his death (1860; Census Place: Marion, Harrison, Missouri: Roll: M653_622; Page: 544; Image 58; Family History Library Film: 803622).

[14] Findagrave.com.

[15] 1850; Census Place: Territory attached to county, Harrison, Missouri; Roll: M432_400; Page: 450A; Image: 413. This age is written clearly in the original census and is clearly impossible.

[16] 1860; Census Place: Marion, Harrison, Missouri; Roll: M653_622; Page: 544; Image: 58; Family History Library Film: 803622.

[17] 1870; Census Place: Marion, Harrison, Missouri;  Roll:  M593_778;  Page: 115B;  Image: 234; Family History Library Film: 552277.

[18] 1880; Census Place: Colfax, Harrison, Missouri; Roll: 688; Family History Film: 1254688; Page: 19C; Enumeration District: 289; Image: 0699.

[19] 1850; Census Place: Territory attached to county, Harrison, Missouri; Roll: M432_400; Page: 448B; Image: 410.

[20] 1860; Census Place: Marion, Harrison, Missouri; Roll: M653_622; Page: 544; Image: 58; Family History Library Film: 803622.

[21] Hart County KY Archives Church Records, Green River Baptist Church, Date 1821.

Copyright. All rights reserved, http://www.usgwarchives.net/copyright.htm http://www.usgwarchives.net/ky/kyfiles.html. File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by: Sandi Gorin, http://www.genrecords.net/emailregistry/vols/00002.html#0000404.

[22] From Jimwoosley@aol.com 23 Aug 2005 at WOOSLEY-L Archives, http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/WOOSLEY/2005-08/1124853799:

  • According to an online list of Barren County KY marriages, a Judith Woosley married Edward Munford in Barren County KY on 30 Jan 1817.
  • As of about 1811, there is a Joshua Woosley in records in Barren County KY. He can be seen in on-line references as a member of the Mt. Tabor Baptist Church in Barren County in 1812, and in 1823 as an organizer of the Sinking Spring Primitive Baptist Church in Hart County. He may be on the 1819 Hart County Tax List.
  • According to the records I’ve put together (mostly from online sources) he was supposedly born in 1779 in Buckingham County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Moses Woosley and Elizabeth Walters (see http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=jim_woosley&id=I0095 for details). He is supposedly the younger brother of my direct ancestor Samuel Woosley who married Phoebe Bailey and settled in the Big Reedy community of Edmonson County (near the Butler-Grayson

corner) about 1830, and that is how I’ve recorded him; however, other family researchers have records suggesting that he is a nephew of Samuel, probably by Samuel’s brother Thomas who settled in Christian County KY.

  • In any event, the Joshua Woosley who settled in Hart County eventually removed with his family to Indiana about 1830, and appears in records there until his death in 1853.
  • He married Polly Davidson (probably the daughter of the Mt. Tabor pastor — those records are temporarily inaccessible and I don’t have the details on my OL reference above) on 12 Feb 1818 in Barren County. This leads to the likelihood that Judith is his daughter by a previous marriage, and there is a (poorly documented) link to a woman named Josephine Maddox, whom I believe to be Judith’s mother. There are a couple of other early female Woosley marriages in the general area (prior to 1820) who may also be daughters of that marriage but whom I otherwise lack information on.

[23] Jackson, Ron V., Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp. Kentucky Census, 1810-90 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. Original data: Compiled and digitized by Mr. Jackson and AIS from microfilmed schedules of the U.S. Federal Decennial Census, territorial/state censuses, and/or census substitutes.

[24] F. E. Gardiner. Cyrus Edwards’ Stories of Early Days, 1940, p 99. “In the year 1796 Wm. T. Bush settled where Mrs. Piatt now lives at Woodland, and the Harper and Owen families came into the valley—taking up all the land from Cedar Cliff to Rowletts.” This area was Logan Co, in 1796 becoming Warren Co, in 1798 Barren Co and in 1819 Hart Co.

[25] Barren County Land Grants, op. cit.

[26] See below, note 25.

[27] Minutes of the Green River Baptist Church, copied by Sandi Gorin, along with other early documents, available at http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/south-central-kentucky/2004-04/1083158272.

[28] See Addendum, below.

[29] 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Munfordville, Hart, Kentucky; Pages: 160f; NARA Roll: M33_17; Images: 175f.

[30] Extracted by Sandi Gorin from the original records at the County Clerk’s office, online at

http://www.censusdiggins.com/kybarren_cr.html. Note that Marston G and Elizabeth Harper were from a different, Virginia family. Their father was probably in Green County, Kentucky, in 1810: James Harper: 01101/00301 page 14.      Another Harper family in early Barren County was described by “Rick” in 29 Jan 2000 at Genforum, “Absalom Harper of Barren Co KY b. 1760,” http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?absalom::harper::2087.html; it states: “I am looking for information on Absalom Harper, born in 1760. His wife’s name was Elizabeth. Some of their children were JohnHarper b. 1795 spouse Fanny Harris, Elijah Harper b. 1800 spouse Margaret Wells, Jeremiah Harper b. 1803, Robert Harper b. 1805 spouse Frances, Mary Harper b. 1807 spouse Read, James W. Harper b. 1815 spouse Marietta Wells, This family lived in Barren Co KY.” Absalom’s origin is not known and there is no sign of interconnectedness with the Hart County people.

[31] See Addendum, below.

[32] From Harper Family Genealogy Forum: “Re: Harpers of Hart County, Kentucky,” posted by Caldeen Benedict, 17 April 2001: Hans Harper, son of Michael and Isabel (—) Harper, married Elizabeth —. Hans moved from Augusta County Virginia to Spartanburg South Carolina about 1768. He was a Revolutionary War Veteran. Children: Hans or Hance Harper, Jr., Samuel Harper, Sr. b. 1760, Isaac Harper, Robert Harper, William Harper.

[33] Possible sons Samuel Jr and Silas give clues to his location. In 1850 Samuel Jr was 55, born in SC, and Silas was 63, born TN, so Samuel may have been in TN in 1800 and 1810. In 1860 Samuel said 71, born NC, and Silas was 71, born SC. Hiram was born 1797 in SC and is thought to have been a son of Matthew’s.

[34] “Second Census of Kentucky,” p 126: Hance Harper, Barren Co, 9/10/1800.

[35] He married his cousin William’s widow 6 May 1824 in Barren County.

[36] Elizabeth’s death was recorded twice: 25 Jan 1857, age 59, daughter of Hance and “Roda” Harper, and then 25 Jan 1858, again age 59, daughter of Hance and Nancy Harper. Mary Vaughn died 24 Jan 1854, age 57, daughter of Hance and Nancy Harper; William Vaughn was her second husband, after the death of William Locke. Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1953 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Since Hance Harper had five daughters in his household in 1810, and Rhoda was born in Barren County in 1792, I have assumed she was also one of Hance’s daughters, since she and Elizabeth married brothers.

[37] Notes from the family Bible indicate six children with first wife, five with second and five with the third, or 16 children. With his third wife, Matthew also had four stepchildren. I have not seen an explanation for the discrepancy.

[38] From “Thigpen/Davenport” at Ancestry.com, cited at Findagrave.com: In the early 1960’s, S. Floyd Bethel of Texas wrote about the Matthew Harper Bible that he had first seen in 1891 in Mason, TX. The Bible was bought in Hart County, Kentucky, Aug 24, 1824: sixteen children were listed, but their names have not been copied, also the births of the first four children of his daughter, Rachael Fowler.

  • Matthew’s first marriage was to ELIZABETH PIERCE, April 21, 1794 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. They had 5 sons and one daughter. Elizabeth died May 8, 1807 in TN.
  • His second wife was Judeth Reynolds, December 31, 1807 in Hart County, Kentucky. They had three sons and two daughters. Judeth died May 7, 1815.
  • His third marriage was to Mrs. Sarah Richardson, widow of Obediah. Marriage was in Green River, Dec 19, 1815. Mrs. Richardson had three sons and one daughter by her first marriage. She had an additional 5 children with Matthew:
    Rachael b. 9-4-1816, married Richard Fowler
    Matthew b. 2-25-1818
    Joseph Whitberger b. 8-30-1820
    James Riley b. 8-5-1823 came to TX in 1872 from Dallas Co MO
    Sarah Ann b 3-22-1825 married Wilson H. Bethel
    “My son, Samuel” is named in Matthew’s will.
    Matthew Harper was born about 1770. S. Floyd Bethel wrote that Matthew could hear the guns of 1776. [Unfortunately, Mr Bethel did not copy the names of the children of the first and second wives. KAP]


[40] From Harper Family Genealogy Forum: “Harpers of Hart County, Kentucky,” posted by Caldeen Benedict, 17 April 2001. While this writer disagrees with some of Ms Benedict’s conclusions regarding relationships, she does use the names and dates.

[41] There were no Samuel Harper heads of household in South Carolina in 1820.

[42] A tax list only.

[43] Hart County was formed in 1819 from Barren.

[44] He is not the man in York County, South Carolina in 1810, since that man was still there in 1820 and 1840. A third man with the same name was in Smith County, Tennessee, who was likely an uncle of this Matthew.

[45] His name is frequently spelled Johnathan.

[46] Martha Pedigo, no. 1128 (1919), Missouri State Board of Health—Bureau of Vital Statistics: parents Russell [sic] Pedigo and Frances Harper. Berry R Pedigo, 8-104 (1923), Oklahoma State Board of Health—Bureau of Vital Statistics: parents Elijah Pedigo and Mary [sic] Harper.

[47] 1840; Census Place: Hart, Kentucky; Roll: 113; Page: 202; Image: 410; Family History Library Film: 0007827.

[48] George Walter Pedigo (1861-1926) and his brother Samuel Walter Pedigo (1863-1899) were sons of Levi E Pedigo and Emma Gertrude Duvall. See their respective death records at Ancestry. Com: Washington, Deaths, 1883-1960 [database on-line]. Original data: Various county death registers. Microfilm. Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington;.and Kansas, Deaths and Burials, Index, 1885-1930 [database on-line]. Original data: “Kansas Deaths and Burials, 1885–1930.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009, 2010. Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records, as well as their censuses. Both boys in 1870 were with the family of Amanda (Pedigo) Bishop in Hart County, Kentucky, which probably led to the assumption they were her nephews (1870; Census Place: Precinct 3, Hart, Kentucky; Roll: M593_468; Page: 316A; Image: 638; Family History Library Film: 545967).

[49] Hart County, Kentucky, Historical Society Quarterly, III, 2, p 12: 1836-38: Elijah Pedigo, horse, 4 children, $30.

[50] “Letter to Willis B Harper from William Meredith,” submitted Ancestry.com, 26 Nov 2013 by “Nadene13.”

[51] Identify unknown, likely a widowed daughter-in-law of one of the older Harpers in Hart County. She had two sons and two daughters under 15.

[52] Loc. cit. Also pages 191 and 199.

[53] Unless there was an earlier marriage for one of the other men.

Published on September 13, 2008 at 8:59 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hello,

    I am not related, however, I wanted to let you know that Matthew Harper’s wife Judith / Judah Reynolds maiden name is apparently “Jones”, her parents George & Nancy Jones Consented to the Reynolds Harper Marriage. Edward Fowler and Stephen Goodman witnessed the Consent.

    I hope this helps someone

    Sincerely, iNeed2CiteMySources

  2. I thought James Harper married Mary Green (hence the Marston name came from the Green family)

    • It’s possible. I have only circumstantial evidence for the Woosley name. Do you anything in favor of Green?

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