Alma Harper

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Alma Harper

Birthdate: (36)
Death: January 6, 1914 (36) (Committed suicide by shooting)
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Alfred Harper and Harriet Harper
Husband of Flora Mable Harper
Father of Xena Sybella Harper; Norine Ester Harper; Quentin Alma Harper and Donna Manning
Brother of Harriet Peterson; Elizabeth Harper; Emmeline Needham; Parkarette Harper; Nathan Harper and 2 others
Half brother of Harvey John Harper; Ellen Harper; Charles Alfred Harper, II; Livina Walker and Park Harper

Occupation: superintendent of the Money Order Division US Post Office
Managed by: Smith Harper Hutchings
Last Updated:

About Alma Harper

Alma Harper was born July 10, 1877 at the Harper Ranch of Summit County, Utah, on Silver Creek (near current-day Park City). He was the eighth child and third son of Charles Alfred Harper and Harriet Taylor – their youngest child.

While Alma was still an infant, his family left the ranch on Silver Creek and moved to Holladay, Utah where he received some public education. He also received instruction in music, specifically in the violin, which he played extremely well. He was active in debating and other educational clubs.

During his teenage years, he enjoyed the company of the Holladay Musical Society which performed stage shows regularly in Holladay, and met above the Joseph Nielson store on Highland Drive. His peers and instructors thought him to be a promising actor.

Leaving behind his farming roots, Alma attended the University of Utah where he studied business and journalism in the undergraduate class of 1901. He served on the board of editors for the University Chronicle newspaper. Later, by scoring exceptionally high on a Civil Service examination, Alma was able to secure public employment with the Unites States Postal Service in Salt Lake City. He eventually became superintendent of the Money Order Division and maintained that position for the remained of his life.

He married Flora Mabel Mitchell, of Kamas, Utah on May 15, 1901 at Salt Lake. She was the daughter of Joseph Mitchell and Rosa Jarvis. Soon after the marriage, they built a beautiful home in the Avenues north of downtown Salt Lake. The large house on a prominent street reflected Alma's position in the community as a respected businessman with a lucrative career.

A daughter, Xena Sybella Harper was born June 16, 1902 in Salt Lake City, and another, Norine Harper on January 14, 1904. A son, Quentin Alma Harper, was born October 27, 1905; then another daughter Donna, on May 20, 1911. Xena and Quentin both passed away as small children – Xena from meningitis, and Quentin from bronchitis.

Perhaps the thing Alma was most remembered for by his family was his deep appreciation for the finer things in life. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of flowers and surrounded himself and his home with them constantly. His yard was said to be one of the most colorful and decorated in Salt Lake City, even appearing in the newspaper on several occasions. He was known to often quote Shakespeare and was a great admirer of all things musical, theatrical, and artistic. Few could match his love of history.

Whether at work, church, or in a family or social setting, Alma was a natural leader and he was extremely active in his community on many levels. He was treasurer for the Utah chapter of the United National Postoffice Workers Association. He was a member of the American Brotherhood of Yeoman, and achieved the office of elder in the Mormon church. He served on the board of directors for a Salt Lake art museum, and sat on the local school board for three years. He was a strong advocate of music and art exposure in public schools and worked to bring these things to the children of Salt Lake City, sometimes at his own expense.

Although his father was a long-time member of the Utah Democratic Party, Alma became a devout Republican and was active in the party all his life. He never ran for public office, but in the presidential election of 1912 he was appointed by the party to represent Utah in the Electoral College. In the election that brought Democratic Woodrow Wilson to the White House by a landslide, Alma was one of only eight men in the nation who cast elector ballots for the incumbent, Republican William Howard Taft, in accordance with Utah's popular vote.

Respected and loved by all who knew him, Alma was remembered to make friends easily throughout his life, with a pleasing personality, keen intellect, biting wit, and exceptional good looks.

Like so many people with artistic gifts, Alma was subject to long periods of melancholy. These became more frequent and intense following the deaths of two of the children, and on January 6, 1914 Alma committed suicide at his home in Salt Lake City with a 32 caliber revolver. He was just 36 years old. His funeral was attended by over 300 mourners and the cortege to the cemetery stretched a full mile in length.

Flora later remarried to Lawrence Galbraith Manning and moved to Ogden, Utah where she lived the remainder of her life. She passed away in 1947.

Alma and Flora are buried together at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, beside their daughter Xena, and son Quentin. Flora's second husband is buried in the same plot, as are four of Alma's siblings who died in infancy.

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Alma Harper's Timeline

June 10, 1877
- January 6, 1914
Age 18
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
June 16, 1902
Age 25
January 14, 1904
Age 26
October 27, 1905
Age 28
May 20, 1911
Age 33