Friday, March 7, 2014

52#Ancestors #10 Rosanna Harper Harper: The Trailblazing Widow

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks. Amy Crow has posted a challenge on her blog 'No Story Too Small'.

Rosanna Harper is my paternal 4th great grandmother.


Rosanna Harper was a Christmas baby. She was born to Robert and Agnes Harper on December 25, 1774 in South Carolina. Her parents were born in Ireland and came to the United States in 1767 along with their siblings and other family members. We know from her father's will that her family called her 'Rosey'. Her father left her ten pounds to be paid in two cows and calves.

Rosanna married her cousin Henry Harper. He is the son of Benjamin and Mary Knox Harper. His parents came to the United States from Ireland along with Rosanna's parents. Very little is known about Henry. He and Rosanna are listed on the 1800 and 1810 census.

It was customary for the spouse of females to 'collect' any inheritance the female received. Henry was given the ten pounds due Rosanna from her father's estate.

.."South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 Feb 2014), Chester > Probate records, 1805-1810, Vol. D > image 159 of 239.

The inheritance was collected about 1808. Henry died sometime between the 1810 and 1820 census. They had a total of seven children: Jane D., Robert, Margaret, Mary L. (Polly), James B., one son name unknown, and two daughters names unknown. Their son Robert is my third great grandfather.

Rosanna is listed as a widow on the 1820 Lancaster County, South Carolina census age forty-six. The children in her home ranged from ages six and up and the oldest daughter had married.

Wagons Ho!

It was after the death of Henry that a group of people from York County, South Carolina decided to migrate west. The party was made up of family, friends, and neighbors. Rosanna, her children, and son-in-law William Hutchison made the decision to go with them. It's believed that her cousin/brother-in-law, James Knox Harper, lead the wagon train. Much of their journey is given in the obituary of Rosanna's daughter Mary L. (Polly) Harper Hogue. (Mary will be discussed later).

They headed for Tennessee. According to family stories the wagon train stopped in Tennessee and was to told to continue west to the area now known as Obion County, Tennessee. Upon arrival in Obion County they had to cross the Obion River. Mary's obituary states they used their 'bed cords, lashed the timber together' and built a raft. They crossed the Obion River near the town of Rives.

Obion River

Rosanna entered a large tract of land near Troy. They camped until a few acres of the heavily forested land was cleared and a home could be built. They were burning trash after the home was built when one of Rosanna's grand daughters fell into the fire. The child's funeral was the first one held and buried where they had camped. (Source: Obituary of Mary Harper Hogue).

Rosanna is mentioned in several lawsuits in Obion County. These were debt charges. Rosanna was the plaintiff. She won some cases and lost some.

Rosanna never remarried after the death of Henry. The Associate Reform Presbyterian record shows her death date as November 2, 1855.  Her burial place is not yet known.

She must have been a wonderful person because she has many namesakes in my direct lineage as well as other relatives lineage.


There is a discrepancy in the obituary of Rosanna's daughter Mary L. (Polly) Harper. The newspaper article first states that Mary's mother was Susanna. Later in the article it states her mother was Rosanna. I found no records for a Susanna. The article also states two things that confirm Rosanna was her mother:

  1. "The widow Rosanna Harper located on the place near Troy where her grandson Jas H. Hogue (James) now lives...."
  2. It mentions Uncles Ben and W. W. Hutchison (Benjamin and William W. Hutchison). They are the sons of Rosanna's daughter Jane.

Rosanna has many namesakes. Some in my direct line and others in the lines of my cousins. In my lineage we have:

Nancy Rosanna (Rose) Harper (1827-1895) my second great grandmother
Rosanna C. (Rosie) Johnston (1863-1881) Nancy's daughter; my great grand aunt
Rosanna Jane (Rosie) Johnston ((1877-1962) my grand aunt (read about her living in a store building here)

Unknowingly my sister and great niece received the middle name Rose. Now that my family knows Rosanna's story, I hope they will pass the story to future generations and keep her name or a form of her name in our line for many generations to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment