Harper, Jacob Dick


March 19, 1846 - March 17, 1922
Rev. Jacob Dick Harper was born in Shelby County, Alabama, Mareh 19, 1846. He died in McDonoghville, La., March 17, 1922, and was buried on his birthday, March 19, at Mansfield, La. His parents were Henry W. Harper and Juliana Pierce. Both were natives of Virginia. Members of his father’s family were in Washing-ton’s army at Yorktown. There were five sons and two daughters; of these, two survive: Mrs. Amanda Akin, of Bernice, La., and Dr. Webb Harper, of Ruston, La.
About 1850 the family moved from Alabama to the northern part of Louisiana. At this time quite a number of families migrated from Alabama to Louisiana. A Methodist church was built by these settlers near the line of Claiborne and Union Parishes and was named Alabama Church. The Harpers were Methodists and cast in their lot with this church. Brother Harper joined the church on probation, August, 1859, was converted in October of that year, and received into the church by Rev. C. W. Hodge in 1860.
He was recommended for admission into the itinerant ministry by the Farmerville circuit, Ouachita District, and admitted on trial by the Louisiana Conference in January 1873. This session of the Conference met in the old Carondelet Street Church in New Orleans, Bishop Pierce presiding. He was admitted into full connection in 1875 and ordained elder by Bishop Wightman in December 1876.
During his nearly fifty years of uninterrupted service in the Louisiana Conference Brother Harper served the following charges: Washington, 1873; Arcadia, 1874; Plaquemine and Gross Tete, 1875; Evergreen Circuit, 1876; Lake Charles, 1877; Opelousas District 1878-79; Alexandria and Pineville, 1880-81; Columbia, 1882-85; Alexandria District, 1886; Delhi District, 1887-90; Ruston, 1891-93; Homer, 1894; Arcadia District, 1895-96; Mansfield, 1897-98; Delhi District, 1899; Alexandria District, 1900-03; Lafayette, 1904-07; Bunkie1908-09; Winnfield, 1910-11; Zachary, 1912-15; Opelousas, 1916-20; McDonoghvflle, 1921 to March, 1922.
Brother Harper’s opportunities for an education were limited indeed, so far as schools are concerned. He attended an “old field school” until the beginning of the Civil War. In this school he had as a classmate Col. J. W. Nicholson, who was subsequently professor of Mathematics at the Louisiana State University. Brother Harper was a great reader and lover of great books. He was diligent in. study and tenacious in his grasp of what he read. He acquired a large fund of information and a mastery of his mother tongue. His ability found early recognition. He was made a presiding elder only one year after his own ordination as elder and was returned to that office a number of times. I served with him in the cabinet and bear witness to his fidelity and fairness in the discharge of his duties there.
At the time of his death he had been preaching fifty-two years, and was in his fiftieth year in the Conference. He had attended every session since his admission on trial and had never missed a first roll call. Late in life he could say that he had never been out of the Conference room when his name was called.
He was methodical and precise in his working habits. What tasks were committed to him he attended to with conscientious and cheerful diligence. He was self-possessed and clear in his view of men and issues. Because of these qualities he was called upon to serve in many important affairs of the Conference. He knew our church law, and was fair in his dealings with the rights and interests of other men. His high place in the Conference is indicated by the numerous boards and committees he was called upon to serve. He was secretary of the Board of Education; chairman of the committee on Conference Relations, president of the Board of Church Extension, and of the Board of Missions, eight years a member of the General Board of Church Extension. He was frequently on committees of examination. In all of these places his work was well done. He was ready for whatever came.
During the latter part of the Civil War he served in the Confederate Army, and was stationed at Alexandria, La., where he labored in the construction of those forts, the remains of which may now be seen above the town on the opposite bank of the Red River. Three of his brothers served in the army of the Tennessee, the eldest of whom found a soldier’s grave at Corinth, Miss.
Brother Harper was genial in temperament and had the real human touch. He loved to hunt and fish. The call of the wild found him a ready listener. He was not averse to a game of chess, enjoyed his friends, and took his part in the social life of the community.
As a preacher he followed the expository and practical method. He was thoroughly conversant with the theology of evangelical Christianity and presented its teachings with clearness and enforced its practical demands upon the hearts and lives of his people. His own religious life was a uniform progress towards the Eternal City. He settled all questions definitely. There was no uncertain place in his religious convictions. His love feast testimonies were always clear, spiritual and marked by the modesty, which adorned his character. He was a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He wrought well. His works follow him. “I know thy works, and charity, and service and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.”
There remain to mourn their loss, the beloved wife, who was Miss Virginia Fox, of Alexandria, La., and his two daughters, Mrs. S. P. Woolfolk, of Baton Rouge, La., and Miss Ruth Harper, of New Orleans, and Rev. R. H. Harper, pastor of the First Methodist Church, of New Orleans.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1922, pages 91-93, , by F. N. Parker

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