Harper was born in Ross Township in 1825. His paternal grandfather was John Harper for whom Harper’s Ferry is named. He purchased considerable land in Cedarville Township and constructed a large brick house in the city. He was very successful in his business ventures including the raising of stock. At the age of 18 he made a large and successful cattle drive from Illinois to Pennsylvania. Additionally he was president of the Cedarville Bank for some years and was active in other business activities in Cedarville.
— Joan Baxter