Alexander Hamilton Harper was born Jan 29 1807 in Windsor, New York. He is the oldest son of Oliver and Phena Stone Harper. His parents must have admired Alexander Hamilton to name their son after him. Alexander Hamilton was a brilliant man – he served under George Washington in the American Revolution, was the first Secretary of Treasury in Washington’s cabinet and was a leader in the Federalist Party. In 1804 Alexander Hamilton fought in a duel with Aaron Burr and was mortally wounded. If there is a relationship between the Harper’s and Hamilton’s I haven’t found it yet.
When Alexander was 17 years old he became the “man of the house.” His father Oliver was murdered near Montrose, PA on his way home from selling lumber in Philadelphia. There have been many articles and speculation about the murderer, Jason Treadwell. The ordeal was quite a shock to the family. And Alexander’s grandfather Judge George Harper and his uncle George Harper Jr were in Montrose frequently to monitor the investigation. Jason Treadwell was hung and is buried in Newman Cemetery .
At the age of 26 Alexander was appointed as the US Postmaster for New South Berlin, NY. It was a position that paid him $300 a year. His next position was in Washington, DC as a clerk from 1843-1845. He had written a letter to his mother in Nov 1844 hoping to come home and visit her. In this letter he had mentioned, “There is no probability that I shall ever be so fortunate as to get a good wife again, or so unfortunate as to get a bad one at all.” He had attended a wedding in Philadelphia so memories must have been a bittersweet moment happy for the couple and remembering his wife. He also wrote in the letter to his mother the following:
I expect the rest of my life will be like the wandering Jew-condemned to wander the remainder of days, a sort of an isolated being, deprived of all the social engagements of life, living perhaps in a kind of negative state of happenings, until I completely rust out and die unlamented, and of course soon forgotten.
Then in 1850 he died in Mariposa, California at the age of 43. In his mother’s bible she or someone had written he had accidentally shot himself. Mariposa was a mining camp near the creek Aqua Fria. In the winter of 1849/1850 there was a flood and fires, so he endured many hardships. Mariposa was relocated to another location after the flooding. Maybe during the move he became careless. Alexander’s probate papers, which were filed in New York City, provided information to fill in some of the gaps of his life.
There are two pages I am attaching to this blog. The first page is from Clarissa Babcock claiming the estate owes her money for care of Alexander’s wife and baby. It gave dates of the care and was a bonus in finding Alexander’s wife Susan. She is buried in the Riverside Cemetery, New South Berlin. She died March 9, 1838 and was born June 2, 1819. A very young 18 years when she died. As for the baby I could find no record. The statement in his letter to his mother about finding another wife (good or bad) is now explained. The claim was later denied by Phena. Mrs. Babcock was claiming care for Susan in 1844, although she passed in 1838. So of course the claim was denied.
The second page is a listing of his possessions when he died. The authorities were shipping the items to the attorney Caleb S Butts, but were never received. The money in his wallet ($103.07) was used to pay for his funeral expenses. It seems he was well prepared for his adventure in
California. Proper bedding, gun and clothes.
Alexander Hamilton Harper is an ancestor who will now not be forgotten.