Harper knows history

Tue, 10/18/2005 - 3:01pm
By: Emily Baldwin

Tyrone’s Rose Marie Harper knows a few things about history. At 78 years of age she has studied it, been apart of it, and now has written about it. She has spent the last ten years on her trilogy of historical novels entitled “The Legacy” which tells the story of her husband, Dr. Byron Harper’s family. The story is fiction but it is based on the realities of the times.

The first of the three books, “The Promised Land” begins on a ship sailing from Bristol, England to the United States in the 18th Century. Harper began her own journey writing her novels by researching Castleton Harper, the family visionary who brought the Harpers to America. She wanted to find out what made them leave England, and what the journey was like that brought them here. What follows are two more books, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” and “Georgia Here I Come,” which continue the story of the family who made sacrifices to create a better life for future generations. The trilogy follows the Harpers as they migrate from Philadelphia to Virginia until they finally settle in Georgia, where they reside today.

Harper’s novels tell of the hardships that came with the pioneer life. She writes about the Revolutionary War, and what it might have been like to serve under General George Washington. She also tells the true story of Josiah Harper who moved to New York when his brother moved to Pennsylvania. Josiah was the founder of “Harper’s Weekly” Magazine, a publication that is still in print today. Her books come with a solid backing of research, but have come alive in Harper’s imagination.

The last book ends in the 1820s, prior to the Civil War, but is written in such a way as to hint that their may be more in store from Mrs. Harper.

When asked why she chose to write about her family’s history, Rose Marie simply smiles and states, “Everyone has a legacy, we need to honor those who have come before us for ‘we stand on the shoulders of giants’.” Harper says she chose to write about her husband’s family rather than her own because “they were just great people with a tremendous heritage. They deserve praise, honor and glory.”

“I couldn’t do what the women of that time had to do, they must have been made of steel,” Rose Marie says. What began as a way to chronicle and honor the forefathers of her children’s family, has grown more than she ever imagined for Rose Marie Harper. “I’m amazed at the interest these books have stirred up,” she marvels.

Rose Marie is no stranger to being in the public eye, however. In 1979 she became the first woman and the first Republican voted into office in Fayette County. She served as a Fayette County Commissioner through 1983. Her political career began over a railroad crossing. At the time Sandy Creek Road had no signal at the crossing, and there had been a few accidents. She began a campaign to change that, and after an uphill battle managed to get one installed. Her nephew suggested that she get into politics, and she did just that. “I really enjoyed it,” Harper recalls.

Although she says she always enjoyed writing, Harper seriously began life as an author in the late 1980s. As a County Commissioner she wrote a weekly column for the newspaper called “Commissioner’s Corner,” which discussed what was going on in the community.

Her first published book, “A Tree By the Rivers of Water,” was a book of poetry published in 1995. Next came her first fiction novel, “To Stand Alone,” in the the late 90s.

Harper has no plans of slowing down anytime soon, either. She is currently writing a fictional story titled “The Twins” about twins separated at birth, and it deals with the question of nature versus nurture. “I have a great deal of interest in how children are raised,” Harper explains. This makes perfect sense as she has quite a bit of experience in this field as a mother of 5.

Harper says she still has many books in her head that she wants to write. She is a dedicated author of poetry and would like to put out a book that combines poetry and a devotional and that deals with the “plateaus in life.”

Harper has most recently appeared at the Tyrone Founder’s Day and at the Country Fair at Christian City for book signings. She will be at Berean Christian Book Store on Cleveland Ave. in East Point on November 5 as well. She is hoping to get her books into the local Barnes & Noble before too long. Currently her books are only available through mail order by writing to her at P.O. Box 562, Tyrone, Ga. 30290. The trilogy may be purchased for $30, individual books are $10.

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