Ben Harper (politician)

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Ben Harper

Benjamin “Ben” Harper (1817–1887) was an American businessman and politician.

Harper was born February 12, 1817 in Philadelphia. He lived in Ohio and Missouri before he settling in Illinois in 1850. From 1854 until 1855 Harper was Mayor of Rock Island, Illinois. He was a Republican. A wealthy hotel owner, he was the builder of the Harper House (1871) and Harper Theatre (1878).

The Harper House “has been described in superlatives, such as the ‘finest hotel between Chicago and the Pacific coast’” (George W. Wickstrom). The hotel occupied the site of the former Rodman House that burned down on October 22, 1869.[1]

Ben Harper died April 3, 1887 in the City of Rock Island. He is buried at Chippiannock Cemetery. His son Ben Harper, Jr. was a prominent building contractor in Illinois.[2]


  • George W. Wickstrom: The Town Crier. Rock Island, IL: J. W. Potter, 1948. (p. 84-87)
  • Historic Rock Island County. Rock Island, IL: Kramer & Co., 1908. (p. 85-87)


  1. ^ “Destruction of the Rodman House, Rock Island”, New York Times, October 23, 1869.
  2. ^ Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Lake Region. Chicago: Beers, 1905.

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