Austin Ames Harper was born in Vancouver, Washington, on June 18,1867. He was the third child of Arnold and Rebecca Ann Harper, who emigrated from Ohio and Missouri. After a short stay in Washington, Austin came to settle in Shasta County in 1869, with his parents and three sisiters: Mary May, Rachel, and Nancy Ann.

The family homesteaded near the Millville/Whitmore area, where three more children were born into the family: Elijah Robert, Bethena Alice and Lilli Christella.

The family continued to live in the Millville area until Arnold's untimely death in 1880. Arnold was buried in Whitmore in a favorite spot near the German cemetery. Austin's mother brother and sisters then moved to Jenny Lind, California, while Austin, the eldest son, continued to homestead his father's land, Eventually, however, he lost the land because he was not of age.

On May 11, 1892, Austin married Ella Billings from Yolo County. They had the following nine children that lived to adulthood:

Arnold b. September 8, 1894
Cora Belle b. October 7, 1895
Lester Ames b. January 23, 1897
Iva Viola b. February 9, 1902
Albert Lloyd b. July 10, 1905
Rebecca Ann b. November 12, 1906
Ella May b. April 15, 1908
Austin Marion b. November 19, 1909
Ethel Irene b. July 30, 1913

 The Harper's had four more children that died young. One never had a name, she was just
referred to as ''sister''. There was a son, Arastus, another son, Bernie, who had diptheria. A neighbor took two horses and went for Dr. Heryford, but by the time he arrived Bernie was too far gone. And a daughter, Lillie Christella.

On December 13, 1905, Austin and Ella received the right to homestead 80 acres in the Whitmore/Fern area. In 1918, they homesteaded another 80 acres. Austin and Ella were both farmers and ranchers. At times, they raised goats for their woo1. Austin also worked at a lumber mill and made wood shakes. He was instrumental in the building of the Mason school, which most of his children attended.

The Harper family was known for its musical talents, and often played for dances on Saturday nights in the Whitmore area. Ella played piano; Lester, played violin and guitar. When Albert was about 4 years old, he was too small to pick up the fiddle so he would stand the violin on end and play "Johnnie Still had an Automobile" Grandma Ella Harper played the piano. Corabelle could play the violin a little. And Ethel played the piano. Arnold, Austin and Albert played the banjo, violin and the guitar.

During the Great Depression of the 1930's, Austin and Ella moved to Redding, where Ella died on April 1, 1951. Austin lived a long, full life of 94 years. He died on November 14, 1961 and was buried next to his wife at the Redding Cemetery.

Source: Shasta Historical Society

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