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Among the pioneer farmers of Doniphan county is numbered this gentleman, who at an early day took up his abode in Kansas before the admission of the state into the Union and when the work of civilization was yet in its infancy here. Much of the land was still in its primitive condition and the now thriving towns and cities were then unfounded. To-day Mr. Harper is an important factor in conducting one of the leading mercantile establishments which contributes to the commercial activity and prosperity of Doniphan county, being a senior member of the firm of J. P. Harper & Son, dealers in lumber and coal in Leona.

A native of Hendricks county, Indiana, he was born on the 2d of February, 1834, and is a son of Jesse and Mary A. (Clifton) Harper. The father was born in Kentucky February 2, 1813, and the mother was a native of Virginia. In 1844 they emigrated to Nodaway county, Missouri, where the father died. The children in his family were: J. Paxton; Frances M., who died in Doniphan county in 1868; and John T.

James Paxton Harper spent the greater part of his youth in Nodaway county, Missouri, and is indebted to the country schools for the educational privileges he enjoyed, his advantages in that direction, however, being somewhat limited, but reading and the experiences in the practical affairs of life have brought to him broad knowledge. He came to Kansas in 1854 when twenty-one years of age and pre-empted a claim. Not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made on the place, but with characteristic energy he began its development, and his farming operations have been interrupted only by his service in the civil war. He was a member of Company I, Seventh Kansas Cavalry, in which he enlisted, on the 28th of October, 1860. He served under Colonels Jennison, Lee and Herrick, in the order named, and Lieutenant-Colonels Anthony and Malone were also in command at different times. The regiment was a part of the Sixth Army Corps and participated in the battle of Rienzi, the only engagement in which Mr. Harper took part. He was discharged in the spring of 1863 and upon his return to Kansas again engaged in general farming and the raising of cattle.

On the 14th of April, 1864, Mr. Harper married Barbara J. Cowger, and to them were born a number of sons and daughters, as follows: Thomas M., James G., Rufus C., John W., C. L., Mary S. and Minnie M. The mother died April 4, 1880, and Mr. Harper wedded Polly Morgan in 1884. Their children are Anna, Myrtle, Raymond P., Ernest, Miles, Hazel and Decorah.

Mr. Harper is an honored and reliable Republican of Wolf River township and his attendance as a delegate to the conventions has been frequent. His faith in his party has been consistent and he has never felt the necessity of working against any measure in the state or national platforms as a rebuke to the party's misdoings. He strongly favors the extension idea, believing in the excellencies of the islands which have come to us through the Spanish-American war. As a business man he is energetic and thoroughly reliable, and in addition to his general farming and stock raising interests he is associated with his son in the conduct of a lumber and coal business, which is bringing to them a good income, for they have secured a liberal patronage along that line.