History: Charles Benjamin Harper

Charles Benjamin Harper, the son of Elizabeth Phipps Brand and Benjamin Harper, Jr., was born November 21, 1848, at Saville Street, Hackney, London, N. E. The family moved several times during his early years, including these places in order: Bath Grove; an unknown location; Garden Place; Walworth Road, on the south side of the Thames, where Alfred (Alfred William Harper) was born. Next they moved to Leather Lane, Holborn, London, E. C. Here Charles was baptized at the age of eight. The next move was to Southampton Street, Camberwell, which was also on the south side of the river. They moved to Saint Leonard’s Street, Bromley-by-Bow. This was their last move before coming to America.

His first experience was at a Dame School which he attended at the age of six or seven. This cost three pence (four to six cents) per week. Following this he attended a larger public school of which he had no clear remembrance. At Leather Lane he attended “Baldwin’s Garden’s National School” for boys only. However, a girl’s school was also maintained and once a week the girls joined the boys for singing practice. The name of this school was decidedly a misfit because there was no garden nor even a playground. When they moved to Southampton Street, he worked in his father’s store. While they lived in Bromley he attended the “Priory Street National School” for three months where he was the head boy. He was now at the end of his formal schooling for at the age of fourteen he left school to work in his father’s oil shop. However, he did attend the “Saint Michael Night School” for a short period of time.

For his work in the store he received six shillings (about $1.50) per week and paid three shillings to his mother for board.

He worked for his father until he was about seventeen years of age.

At this time his mother desired to emigrate to Utah, but his father was not very favorable to the idea. So She decided to send her eldest son, Charles, to America, in the hope that she could use this as an inducement for her husband to emigrate also. The father made no objection, so on May 5, 1866 Charles left England on the sailing vessel, “Caroline”. His parents accompanied him to the London docks. His passage was paid to the frontier and he had eight or ten $2.50 gold pieces with which to face the new life.

During the six weeks of ocean voyage many amazing and some near tragic things occurred. The ship was heated by upright stoves. One day a pig which was being carried as part of the food supply got loose. It took refuge under the stove. In trying to get the pig out, the stove was very nearly upset. Should this have happened very serious consequences from fire might have followed.

To Be Continued…

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