Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Scope and Content
The Rice Harper notebook is part of the larger Charles E. Frohman Collection. The collection was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center by Mr. Frohman in 1967.
Rice Harper was born on November 28, 1803 in Unionville, Lake County, Ohio, to John A. and Loraine (Miner) Harper. Rice attended the local schools in Unionville, but was mainly indebted to his parents for his education, which at the time was considered much above what most children received. Eventually he became interested in the field of law and began reading in the office of Wheeler & McClung in Unionville before being admitted to the bar in 1827. On July 5, 1830, he married Susanna Montgomery in Unionville. The couple had one daughter. Chronic illness forced Harper to leave his law practice in 1832. He operated a mercantile business in Madison, Ohio for four years until moving to Painesville, Ohio in 1836.
While residing in Painesville, Harper founded the Ohio Railroad, also known as the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway in its later years. The railroad was built from the Pennsylvania to the Indiana boundary line and ran along the lake shore. He was also the company’s first secretary. Ohio City, now West Cleveland, was the headquarters for the railroad and Richmond, at the mouth of the river near Painesville, was a leading port. After experiencing a decline in the railroad business, Harper moved to Erie County in 1838 to pursue other ventures. He was appointed the first clerk of the Common Pleas Court, serving seven years in the position, and became very active in organizing the county. He was also appointed as a clerk of the Supreme Court for Erie County in 1839 and served several terms as a councilman for the city of Sandusky.
Harper remained active in business in Erie County until 1855, when failing health forced him to move to Iowa with the hopes of regaining his strength. While in Iowa he became an agent and attorney for large areas of government land. However, he always kept his residence in Sandusky, Ohio. During the Civil War Harper served as a member of the Board of Enrollment for six counties in Ohio. Rice Harper died on February 19, 1891 at his home. He is interred in Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky, Ohio.
Scope and Content
This collection spans the years from 1829 – 1836, with the bulk of the material dating from 1829 – 1834, and consists of one law notebook belonging to Rice Harper. “July 15, 1829 Unionville, Geauga County, Ohio” is inscribed on the first page. The first twenty-five pages are dedicated to legal notes taken by Harper. The back of the notebook contains an account ledger for approximately fifty-six customers. This account ledger could possibly be one of several that Harper created while operating his mercantile business in Madison, Ohio. An index of the customers’ names begins on the first page.
Law Notebook/Account Ledger