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The Harper family were among the earliest settlers in Wolf River township, Doniphan county, in the days when this was a frontier locality. Representatives of the name came to the west and have aided in the development which has brought about the present progress. The experiences and hardships of pioneer life were endured by them, as also the difficulties brought about by the troublous times which preceded the civil war. It was near the close of the sectional strife between the north and the south that Thomas M. Harper was born, his natal day being January 12, 1865. His parents are J. P. and Jane (Cowger) Harper. The mother, at her death, left the following children: Thomas M.; James, of Brown county, Kansas; Rufus; John; Susan, the wife of J. K. Craig, of Oklahoma; Minnie, the wife of J. O. Brownell, of Doniphan county, and Chester.

The family homestead was located near Leona, and there the subject of this review remained through his minority. He assisted in the work of the home farm, following the plow through the spring months and later aided in harvesting the crops in the autumn. He obtained a good education in the schools of Leona, and then continued his connection with the agricultural pursuits until his attention was directed into the channel of business where he is now found. In 1895 the firm of J. P. Harper & Son succeeded the Henry Goatsworth Company in the lumber and coal business in Leona, and are now at the head of a paying enterprise. They have a liberal patronage, which has been secured through their honorable dealing, their resolute purpose and unflagging energy.

On the 13th of October, 1887, Mr. Harper was united in marriage to Mollie L. Rake, a daughter of Fred Rake, a resident farmer of Brown county. Their union has been blessed with one daughter, Jessie, who was born November 25, 1889.

Mr. Harper is one of the stanch Republicans of Wolf River township, and his fellow citizens, recognizing his ability, have called him to public office, wherein he has served in a most capable manner. He was twice elected township clerk, his second term expiring in 1895. He has frequently been chosen as a delegate to the county conventions of his party and is regarded as one of the enthusiastic Republicans of the precinct. A leading member of the Odd Fellows society, he has filled all the chairs in the local lodge and is now past consul in Camp No. 3033, Modern Woodmen of America. His business methods won him the confidence, goodwill and patronage of the public and he has a large circle of friends in the community where he has made his home throughout his entire life.