A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio


Pages 328 - 335
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Robert HARPER was born in County Down, Ireland, July 6, 1808. He was educated in select schools in Ireland, emigrating to America in 1826 or 1827. He landed in Baltimore, and then engaged with Galloway & Brown for three years. He came to Ohio in 1831 and located in Hamilton, engaging in the grocery and produce business, in the firm of Johnson & Harper. It was thus known for three years, when it became Harper, Hueston & Co., for three or four years. They also carried on distilling and ran a line of freight boats to Cincinnati. This lasted till 1840, since which he has led a retired life. Mr. HARPER married Mary, daughter of Colonel Matthew HUESTON, of whom a full account is given elsewhere. Mrs. HARPER was born in Butler County in 1811. They are the parents of six children, three of whom are living. Hannah is now the wife of Major R. E. LAWDER, of Missouri; Eliza J., the wife of William P. WASHBURN, of Tennessee, and Kate is now Mrs. William P. CHAMBERLAIN, of Knoxville, Tennessee. Mrs. HARPER died December 15, 1879. Mr. HARPER was canal collector for three years, in 1833, 1834 and 1835. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and has been a Whig and Republican. He has been a successful and respected citizen.

In 1788, at the suggestion of John C. SYMMES, Enos POTTER purchased a section of land in the Symmes purchase, and with his wife Rhoda MILLER, left his pleasant home in New Jersey to make a new one in the wilderness. But, upon his arrival at Columbia, learning that the Indians were very hostile, they concluded to remain there till these dangers were over. But, after having spent ten years in their temporary home, they removed, in 1798, to their farm, near Middletown, where they were the remainder of their lives. These early pioneers had ten children, the youngest son of whom was Aaron, who was born in 1809. In this home he grew up under the fostering care of a more than ordinary mother, his father dying when he was only five years old. But in 1827, when he attained his eighteenth year, he left the maternal fireside, and removed to Cincinnati, where, under the tuition of E.B. POTTER, he learned his trade. On September 20, 1830, he married Miss Emeline RANSDALE, and in 1837 he removed his business to this city, where he remained to the day of his death, with the exception of a few months, which were spent in Indiana. He was the first ornamental marble-cutter ever in this place.

He was baptized by Elder GARD at the age of seventeen, and had decided evidence that he had become a child of God. Nor was his espousal of the faith once delivered to the saints a mere form. As soon as he was settled in business here he was found in the prayer-meetings and Sabbath-school, anxious to do good somewhere, even if the Church of his choice did not exist in the place. For five years he prayed and wept over the fact there was no Baptist Church here with whose members he could work for the honor of God. But when upon the 31st of December, 1841, Rev. A. DRURY came here and preached in the Presbyterian Church in Rossville, he felt that the favored time had come, and with one congenial spirit, he resolved that separate meetings should be regularly maintained till God in his providence should warrant the organization of a Baptist church, and just here the real character of Mr. POTTER appears in its true light, for he, with Dr. RIGDON, solemnly pledged himself before God, to maintain the worship of God and pay the amount which might be needed to carry this determination into execution, and, with the aid of a few who loved the truth, and under the guidance of such men as DRURY, BRYANT, MOORE, and others of a kindred spirit, the little band so prospered that on the 20th of April, 1844, it was recognized as a branch of the Lockland Church. During that whole period of toil and anxiety, from the preaching of DRURY's first sermon in 1841, we find that Messrs. POTTER and RIGDON were responsible for all the expenses needed, and so deeply was Mr. POTTER interested in that growing work that during most of the time he acted not only as treasurer but as sexton also, and after the organization of an independent Church of his own faith we find that its highest interests lay near his heart. It was the child of his own labor and toil and to the day of his death its welfare found a place in all his prayers. In health his seat in the sanctuary was never empty.

On the first day of July, 1871, he died in the sixty-second year of his age. He was married in 1830 to Miss Emeline RANSDALE, daughter of J. RANSDALE, a former well-known citizen of Cincinnati. Mrs. POTTER was born in Boston, Massachusetts, July 19th, 1813. They were the parents of six children, of whom but one Charlotte A. SHUE, now the widow of Adam C. SHUEY, now survives. She was born January 9th, 1833.


For some years previous to 1847, the citizens of the villages of Hamilton and of Rossville became impressed with necessity of abandoning the use of the burial grounds provided for each town, and the urgent duty of obtaining new places for the purpose of sepulture. No steps had been taken to effect the desired object until the Fall of that year, when John W. ERWIN, in connection with other gentlemen, determined to ascertain the views of the citizens, and to raise, if possible, a sufficient amount of money for the purchase of suitable grounds for cemetery purposes. Thereupon, in the Fall of 1847, the following paper was prepared and presented to the citizens of Hamilton and vicinity for their subscriptions:

"The undersigned citizens of Hamilton and vicinity, believing it to be of the utmost importance that a rural cemetery should be established in the neighborhood of said town, do hereby associate ourselves as a joint stock company for that purpose, each share of stock to be twenty-five dollars, and when a sufficient amount shall have been subscribed, the same to be applied for the purchase and improvement of grounds suitable for that purpose, to be laid off in walks, carriage-ways, alleys and subdivisions, and sold in lots under the direction of the association. Stock subscribed to go in payment of lots purchased, and the balance of the proceeds, if any, to be expended from time-to-time in defraying expenses and improvements to the ground," etc.

Mr. ERWIN, and other others, diligently sought to obtain subscribers to the paper. They encountered many difficulties in their efforts. Some thought there was no pressing necessity for new cemetery grounds. Some thought the enterprise chimerical, and that a sufficient amount of money could not be raised to accomplish the object. Others, who sometimes and to some extent found themselves in antagonism with movements made by Hamilton, were impressed with the idea that Hamilton was too unhealthy for a burying-ground. Notwithstanding the many objections urged to the undertaking and the difficulties encountered, persistant efforts were made to secure subscriptions. Finally, an amount deemed sufficient to justify a more complete organization and the purchase of grounds was subscribed.

Very opportunely, just when most needed, the Legislature of Ohio, on the twenty-fourth day of February, 1848, passed a general law for the organization of cemetery associations. By the passage of this act the friends of the enterprise were greatly assisted in their undertaking. At a meeting held at the court-house in Hamilton on the 25th of February, 1848, John M. MILLIKIN, John W. ERWIN, and William BEBB were appointed a committee to personally examine several sites suggested, and on the subsequent third day of March, 1848, the committee submitted a report, in which they discussed the character of the subsoil best suited for a cemetery and other essential qualities, such as an undulating surface, the amount and quality of the natural growth of timber, location, etc. The committee reported fully on the merits and demerits of the several tracts offered, and concluded by recommending the purchase of the grounds offered for sale by the executors of Daniel BIGHAM, deceased, supposed to contain twenty-four acres, at one hundred and twenty-five dollars per acre. The subject was fully considered by the stockholders present, who voted by a large majority for its purchase. William BEBB, John M. MILLIKIN, and L.D. CAMPBELL were appointed a committee to conclude a contract with the executors for its purchase.

On the sixteenth day of March following Governor William BEBB presented to the meeting then held a certified copy of the act passed upon the subject of organizing cemetery associations, and the following resolutions were adopted:

"Resolved, That we accept the act passed February 24, 1848, entitled 'An Act Making Provisions for the Incorporation of Cemetery Associations," and hereby organize ourselves into a cemetery association.

"Resolved, that we will meet on the fifteenth day of April, next, at two o'clock P. M., at the court-house in Hamilton, for the purpose of electing seven trustees and one clerk for the association."

In obedience to the second resolution, due notice of an election was given. The result was the choice of the following persons as trustees: William HUNTER, Henry S. EARHART, William WILSON, William BEBB, Lewis D. CAMPBELL, John W. ERWIN, and John M. MILLIKIN. At the same time, John H. SHUEY was elected clerk. The committee appointed for that purpose reported that they had concluded a contract with the executors of David BIGHAM for the purchase of the tract of land offered, which was found to contain 21 20/100 acres. At a meeting held by stock-holders on the 18th of May, for the purpose of choosing a name, several were suggested. Twenty-four votes were cast for the adoption of "Greenwood" as the name of the cemetery association, and seventeen votes for "Hamilton." The result was the choice of the former name. On the 29th of May, 1848, the trustees held their first meeting, John H. SHUEY, the elected clerk, being present. John M. MILLIKIN was chosen president, and William WILSON, treasurer. Upon due consideration it was speedily determined that the purchase heretofore made of 21 20/100 acres was altogether insufficient, and an additional strip of ground adjoined the former purchase, containing 5 57/100 acres, was purchased. This strip of ground, lying on the east, was very desirable,--indeed, it was deemed indispensable, and the board of trustees did not hesitate in making the purchase from Mr. James BIGHAM, at one hundred and twenty-five dollars per acre. The addition enlarged the cemetery to 26 76/100 acres.

The trustees found that they had onerous duties to perform, which demanded immediate attention. The purchased grounds had to be paid for; prompt collection of stock subscribed was required; the grounds were to be cleaned up, laid out in walks, avenues, drives and subdivided into lots, and then properly inclosed. The trustees, in their early work, were without experience or information in the performance of their duties. There were no landscape engineers or gardeners to employ or consult; and no cemeteries in South-western Ohio, that had been laid out and improved in accordance with cultivated taste and artistic skill. The magic hand, guided by the experience and intuitive good taste of Mr. STRAUCH, the superintendent of Spring Grove Cemetery, had not then metamorphosed that unsurpassed rival cemetery.

Notwithstanding the difficulties in their way the trustees did not hesitate. They proceeded to clear off the grounds by the removal of such timber as was deemed unsuited to the place, and to cause the ground to be inclosed. Preliminary to the subdivision of the ground into lots, was the duty of locating and marking out the drives and avenues. How many should be made and where located, were the perplexing questions. As the services of experienced, competent men, familiar with such work, could not be obtained, Henry S. EARHART and John M. MILLIKIN determined to see what progress they could make in such an undertaking. They fixed upon the present entrance gate as the commencing point of the main avenue. That point being determined upon, they indicated by throwing aside the leaves the center of the several drives and avenues, and Mr. EARHART carefully measured and staked off the several drives and avenues, and also proceeded to subdivided the grounds into lots eighteen by thirty-six feet. There were many fractional lots, and some fractions which were included in adjoining lots. These drives and avenues as thus laid out were approved by the board, and have remained without any material modification to the present day. The survey having been completed, the stockholders met in the cemetery on the 19th of March, 1849, for the purpose of selecting their lots. The names of stockholders were placed in a box and were drawn out by tellers, and each stockholder selected his lot in the order the names were drawn. This mode of selection gave entire satisfaction to all interested.

The citizens of Hamilton and vicinity soon began to take unusually lively interest in the cemetery. Those who had not favored the enterprise soon became satisfied that it deserved their support and approval. The success of the undertaking and the interest manifested by the public will be seen in the following statement: Between March, 1849, and January 1, 1851, there had been sold two hundred and fifty lots, for the sum of $6,068.36. During the same time one hundred and eighteen original interments had been made, and the remains of one hundred and ninety-nine person had been removed from other places of sepulture. Thoroughly assured of the complete success of the undertaking, and of the necessity of enlarging the cemetery round, the board of trustees, on the 24th of March, 1856, purchased of William BECKETT sixteen acres of ground adjoined, on the east side of the cemetery, for the sum of three thousand dollars. This purchase was not only very important, but opportune. It was important, because the more desirable locations in the original laid-out grounds would in a few decades be taken up. The purchase was opportune, because other parties would soon have purchased the tract for like sepulture purposes, and the Hamilton Cemetery board would have been prevented from extending their possessions. This same sixteen acres of g round had previously been proffered to the city of Hamilton as a donation for a public park, by the Hon. John WOODS. The offer was coupled with a requirement that the city should appropriate annually a small sum of money for its improvement. Fortunately for the Cemetery Association, the exceedingly liberal offer of Mr. WOODS was rejected.

This sixteen acres of ground made a most desirable addition to the cemetery, and enabled the board of trustees to secure another piece of ground adjoining on the east. This last purchase was made, not in view of the present wants of the association, but because of what the board anticipated would be the requirements of the city and neighborhood in generations to come. Therefore, on the 4th of April, 1872, the board of trustees contracted with William H.H. CAMPBELL, to pay him $9,100 for 22 75/100 acres of land. This last purchase of land makes a total of 65 51/100 acres of good ground now belonging to Greenwood Association, for which the association had paid, exclusive of interest, the gross sum, of $15,443. 75. The cemetery association now owns a body of ground in every way well-suited for cemetery purposes, amply sufficient for the wants of Hamilton and vicinity for the next century, possibly for two centuries.

The association has been managed with singular success. Vigilant care and strict economy in the transactions of its business have been rigidly observed. There has been no peculations, no embezzlements, not defalcations. Every dollar received for lots sold, for interment fees and for property sold, has been faithfully accounted for. The association has commenced the foundation of a sinking fund, to which annual sums will be added. The object of the board is to secure a permanent fund, amply sufficient to meet the wants of the association in the remote future. The number of lots sold up to the 1st of January, 1882, were 1,013; number of lot holders, or grantees to the 1st of January, 1882, were 1,318.

The number of interments from the organization of the cemetery to the 1st of January, 1882, is as follows: Original interments, 5,028; removals from other burial grounds, 1,039; total, 6059.

The officers of the association for 1882 are as follows:
President John M. MILLIKIN.
Treasurer Joseph CURTIS.
Clerk N.G. CURTIS. Superintendent A.J. GOSHORN.

Henry L. MOREY

Henry Lee MOREY, representative in congress from this district, was born in Milford Township, in this county, on the 8th of April, 1841. He is the son of William and Derexa MOREY, neither of whom are now living. The ancestors of William MOREY came to America, from England, in the early part of the seventeenth century, and are supposed to have settled in the colony of Massachusetts. From thence, in time, their descendants scattered to various parts of the country, the branch to which William MOREY traces his origin settling in Connecticut. His grandfather served in the Revolutionary War as a commissioned officer. After the close of that struggle, and when the lands of Western New York were offered for sale, he removed to that State and settled in Steuben County.

His father, William MOREY, in turn, emigrated in 1814 to the new State of Ohio, bringing with him his young family, among them William, a lad of thirteen, and locating in the Seven-Mile Valley, near the site of the present village of Collinsville, where he died on the 16th of August, 1815, in the forty-second year of his age, leaving Anda MOREY, his widow, and seven children, four sons and three daughters. He was buried in the old cemetery near that town, but sixty-two years afterward his remains were removed by his grandchildren to Greenwood Cemetery, where they now rest beside those of his wife, who survived him thirty years. William MOREY, his son, and the father of Henry Lee MOREY, was the third child of the family. He was united in marriage with Derexa WHITCOMB on the 6th day of May, 1824, in Yankeetown, now Somerville, in this county.

DEREXA MOREY, whose maiden name was WHITCOMB, was descended from Puritan stock. Her ancestors came to this country from England about 1630, and are supposed to have come from Dorsetshire, in the ship Mary and John, which sailed Plymouth, in England, and landed in what is now Boston Harbor, on the 30th of May of 1630, after a voyage of seventy days. One their descendants, Colonel Asa WHITCOMB, was a revenue officer in colonial times, and others of the family have won distinction the various walks of life. One branch of this stock removed from Massachusetts to Vermont, from which is descended Anthony WHITCOMB, the father of Derexa WHITCOMB. A brother of Anthony was the father of James WHITCOMB, at one commissioner of the land office, twice elected governor of the State of Indiana, and later a United States senator from that State.

Anthony WHITCOMB came to Ohio from the State of Vermont about the year 1815, and settled in Hamilton County, near Cincinnati, then a small town where he soon died leaving Lucy WHITCOMB, his widow, and six children, two sons and four daughters. Lucy WHITCOMB afterwards married again, and move to Preble county, in this State, taking her family with her, where she died on the 5th of October, 1821, in the forty-eighth year of her age. Derexa here met William MOREY, with whom she was united in marriage on the 6th of May, 1824. They were the parents of fourteen children, ten of whom survive, seven sons and three daughters. During the war of the Rebellion four of their sons served in the Union army.

William MOREY died on the 8th of June 1872, in the seventy-first year of his age. In early life he learned and carried on the business of a hatter, but afterwards embraced mercantile pursuits, and later turned his attention to agriculture, which he followed for the remainder of this life. While engaged in the hatting business he visited the city of New Orleans to purchase a stock of furs, and there first became acquainted with the institution of slavery, and saw its practical workings. His strong sense of right revolted at its enormities, and made him look with abhorrence upon the system. He returned to his home a radical abolitionist, which he continued openly to be until the day of his death. During the period of fierce agitation of the slavery question he lived upon one the lines of the underground railroad, and was known as a friend of the black man.

In early life he was united with the Universalist Church, of which he continued a faithful member until his death. He was the strong friend of temperance, his voice being always against the liquor traffic, as also against the use of tobacco. His wife survived him five years, dying on the third day of July, 1877, in the seventy-sixth year of her age. She was buried in Greenwood Cemetery by the side of her husband and children. In her early womanhood she united with the Universalist Church, in which faith she continued throughout her life. She was woman of bright intellect, thoughtful, patient, and self-denying, always ready to relieve the wants of the needy. On the 12th of July, 1879, Matella MOREY DRULEY, the youngest child of William and Derexa MOREY, died in the thirty-first years of her age, being the first death among their children in more than thirty years.

Henry Lee MOREY attended the common schools of Butler and Preble Counties until 1856, when he was sent to the Morning Sun Academy to prepare for college. Two years later he entered Miami University. The war breaking out, he enlisted in the University Rifles, at Oxford, on the day after the fall of Fort Sumpter. This company was united with the Twentieth Western Virginia. At the expiration of this service, he enlisted in the Seventy-fifth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, and helped to recruit and organize that regiment at Camp McLean, near Lockland, Hamilton County. On the completion of the organization, he was elected a second lieutenant, and served with his regiment to the close of the war, being successively promoted to the positions of first lieutenant and captain, being senior captain of his regiment at the close of its term. His regiment went from Camp McLean, in January, 1862, into Western Virginia, and its campaigns marched over all the ranges of mountains into Eastern Virginia. He took part in the battles of Monterey, Franklin, Shaw's Ridge, McDowell, Strausburgh, Cross Keys, Cedar Mountain, Freeman's Ford, Sulphur Springs, Waterloo Bridge, second Bull Run, Aldie, and Chancellorsville in Virginia; Fort Wagner, Morris Island, Fort Gregg, and in the siege of Fort Sumpter (under General Quincy A. Gilmore), in South Carolina; and Camp Baldwin and Gainesville, Florida. He commanded his company in every action after Monterey. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Chancellorsville, and confined in Libby Prison, in Richmond, and was exchanged with the last lot of officers previous to the suspension of the cartel.

After the war he studies law, graduating at the Indianapolis Law College, and settling in Hamilton in the Spring of 1867, where has ever since remained. He is a Mason, having become a past Master, and has advanced through the council and chapter degrees. He has lately become a Knight Templar. He is also and Odd Fellow, a Knight of Pythias, and member of the Royal Arcanum. He has always affiliated with the Universalist Church, and for ten years has been superintendent of its Sunday-school in Hamilton.

On the 25th of April, 1865, he was married to Mary M. CAMPBELL, who died July 1, 1867. February 26, 1873, he married Ella R. CAMPBELL, sister of his first wife and daughter of William H. CAMPBELL, late State senator, and granddaughter of Mrs. Mary CAMPBELL, who is still living in Franklin, Warren County, in her ninety-seventh year.

He was admitted to the bar in 1867, and has remained in the active practice of this profession in the city of Hamilton ever since, until the last session of Congress, during which time he grew in popular favor, until he attained a leading place at the bar, and rapidly developed those elements so essential to a good lawyer. Of sterling integrity, fearless in his professional duties, of correct judgment, quick and decisive, keen and discriminating, energetic and persistent, clear and comprehensive, he is true and fair to his client, honest with the court and candid with the jury. As a counselor, he is frank and safe; as a pleader, terse and concise; as a jurist, logical and forcible, and as an advocate, eloquent and persuasive.

In his political career Mr. MOREY has been remarkably successful. He is a Republican, devoted to his party, proud of its history, and thoroughly believing in its principles, but always courteous to his political opponents. In 1871 he was elected solicitor of the city of Hamilton, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Judge VANCE, and was shortly afterwards re-elected for a full term. In the same year he was elected prosecuting attorney of Butler County largely by his personal popularity, defeating his Democratic competitor, whose party was over two thousand in majority.

In 1875 he was a candidate for State senator in the district composed of Butler and Warren Counties, and although running largely ahead of the his ticket, was defeated. In 1880 he was nominated for Congress in this district by the Republicans. He received the nomination on July 28th , at the convention in Morrow, upon the three hundred and sixty-seventh ballot, after a protracted and close contest. He was triumphantly elected, receiving one thousand and twenty-eight majority over General Durbin WARD, the Democratic nominee. His career during the first session that Congress was highly satisfactory to his constituents, that on July 13, 1882 by his party at its convention in Lebanon, Ohio, he was renominated by acclamation.

In his official acts he keeps in line with Republicans on party questions, but in his relation with his constituents and in his zealous and devoted care of interests he makes no distinction, treating all alike. He is affable and genial, courteous and kind, attentive and industrious, with wonder capacity for details, efficient of broad views, and patriotic. In his capacity as a private citizen, he is generous, sympathetic, neighborly and obliging, active and enterprising, successful and influential; and has done much for the growth and development of the city of Hamilton and Butler County, and has always been the friend and advocate of all valuable public improvements looking to the prosperity of the people.