Saturday, March 12, 2016

Who was A.E. Harper?

Today was our annual Price Cousin Reunion, and this year we met at the community center in Worthington Springs. This year one of our cousins, Russell, found some great family documents in his attic, and brought them to the reunion to share with the rest of the family. One of the items was a mystery, though - a Bible with the name A.E. Harper in it, and an address in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Now the Price family did not come to Melrose from New Jersey, and we aren't related to any Harper's, so the question of the day was "Who was A.E. Harper, and how did Grandma and Grandpa Price wind up with the Bible?" I love a good genealogy mystery, so you just KNOW what I did when I got home, right?

Knowing that Russell & Maude Price had spend most of their life in Melrose, I started the search for A.E. Harper by looking at census records in Putnam County. After all, she would have to have been in this area for the Price's to wind up with her Bible. Turns out that A.E. Harper is Annie Harper. In the 1930 census of Putnam County, Florida, she is enumerated in Precinct 18 (Melrose), two houses away from Russell & Maud Price (aka Grandma and Grandpa Price).1-2 Ok, now we know she was a neighbor, but that still didn't explain the relationship which led to the Price's having the Bible.

A Google search for Annie Harper of Melrose quickly uncovered quite a fascinating story, which in turn shed light on an old Price family story dating back to the 1920's.


Melrose, Florida to Nyack, New York

One of the stories handed down in the Price family tells how Russell Price was selected by his church in Melrose to attend Bible college in New York to train for the gospel ministry. He went to Nyack, but returned after just one semester, declaring he was "just a farmer." However, while he was in New York, he heard of some tent revivals in the southeast, and invited John Minder to come to Melrose, promising him a tent if he would "wear it out in Florida." Dr. Minder accepted his invitation, and had a fruitful ministry in Florida until his death 60 years later.


The Rest of the Story

So what does this story about Russell Price going briefly to Nyack, have to do with Annie Harper? Annie, the neighbor of Russell and Maude in 1930, was a companion to Mary Mossman and Alta Trimmier here in Melrose.3 Before coming to Melrose, Mary Mossman had established a "Faith House" in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.4 Annie, Mary and Alta would travel back to the house in New Jersey during the summer months (and really, who can blame them? I would not want to be here in the summer without an air-conditioner, either!).5

Annie and Mary, at least, were considered religious leaders, and held Bible studies in their home.5 Annie wanted to lead a church, and had a church built on her property.3,6 Young Russell Price and his family attended the meetings led by Annie and Mary, and it was here that Russell was selected to attend Bible college in New York.5


One Mystery Remains

So it is that A.E. Harper, the original owner of the Bible found by Russell & Elizabeth Price in their attic, was  part of the Price family FAN club (Friends, Associates, Neighbors). Not only was she a neighbor, but she was also one of the leaders in the church attended by the Price family in the 1920's, and influenced Russell to head to New York in 1919.5

So we have now solved WHO A.E. Harper was, and why she was important to Russell & Maude, but we still do not know how Maude came to be in possession of the Bible. Annie outlived Maude by one year, so Maude did not "inherit" it upon Annie's death.7-8


Final Thoughts - Lessons Learned

One of my goals for 2016 is to Finally Get Organized! In following DearMyrt's task lists, we have spent time reviewing our documents and ensuring we have done a comprehensive search for each generation. (Do we ever really complete that last part?) Our tasks so far have not had me looking at the Price family files yet, but I now know I have not really studied the FAN club. Because Melrose was such a small community, and almost everyone is related somehow, it is easy to ignore that part. However, it should be noted that Melrose had numerous families who were here only during the winter months, and these families interacted with the year-round residents. They attended the same churches, joined the same clubs, and their children went to school together. Even though they were not blood relatives, these winter residents played a major role in the history of the Price family. By studying the lives of Annie Harper, Mary Mossman and Alta Trimmier, I have a better appreciation for the broader social and cultural history that shaped my family - and indeed, still plays a significant role even today.


1. 1930 U.S. census, Putnam County, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 18 (Melrose), enumeration district (ED) 26, sheet 1A, p. 16 (stamped), dwelling 8, family 8, Russell A. Price; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 15 Mar 2015); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 332.

2. 1930 U.S. census, Putnam County, Florida, population schedule, Precinct 18 (Melrose), enumeration district (ED) 26, sheet 1A, p. 16 (stamped), dwelling 10, family 10, Annie Harper; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 12 Mar 2016); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 332.

3. Kelly, Patrick. "Threat to Iconic Mossman Home Helps Unite Melrose." The Gainesville Sun. 14 November 2013. accessed 12 Mar 2016.

4. Healing and Revival Press. Healing in Ocean Grove: Biography of Mary Mossman. 2005. Accessed 12 Mar 2016.

5. Minder, Lorene. John Minder - A Man Sent from God: History of His Ministry in the S.E. District of the C&MA. St. Louis: Creative Concepts. 1988.

6. Alachua County Historical Commission. Walking Map of Historical Area. accessed 12 Mar 2016.

7. Find A Grave, database and images ( accessed 12 March 2016), memorial pages for Annie E. Harper (1875-1971)  Find A Grave Memorial no. 81909101, citing Eliam Cemetery, Melrose, Putnam County, Florida.

8. Find A Grave, database and images ( accessed 12 March 2016), memorial pages for Maude E. Price (1892-1970)  Find A Grave Memorial no. 81913127, citing Eliam Cemetery, Melrose, Putnam County, Florida.

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