Anselm Hansel Harper

Anselm is the Hansel Harper that married Elizabeth Rose in Surry County, Virginia on Jan. 27, 1789. From guardianship documents in 1803, we learn that Anselm had three children: James, Joseph and Nancy.

Anselm used the nickname Hansel interchangeably which frustrated me because I felt that they were the same person but couldn’t prove it until I found the original marriage bond for Benjamin Rose and Lucy Harper that Anselm was the bondsman for. His seal on the bond was beside the name “Hansel Harper.” I also located the marriage bond for Hansel and Elizabeth’s marriage on FamilySearch, where the names Hansel and Anselm are used interchangeably.

Hansel was never called “Hance.” Nor did he ever live in Kentucky. Some family trees have attached the Hansel Harper-Elizabeth Rose marriage record for a different man. The Hansel Harper from Southampton, Virginia died in 1803.

I have created a timeline of records below as proof.

Please note that “Anselm” was spelled several ways including Ansolm and Anselmn, but Anselm was the most common.

Southampton County, Virginia records are thanks to the Southampton Project by The Brantley Association of America.


11 March 1761 – John Harper and wife, Mary, sold to Jacob Newsom land on Ready Branch in Southampton, Virginia. John and Mary are Anselm’s parents. (Deed book 3, Southampton, Virginia)

9 May 1782 – Anselm Harper buys land from Drury Parker and unnamed wife. Land was by John Harper [his father] and Richard Marks. To buy land, you must be at least 21 years old. Anselm must have been born in 1761 at the latest, which is the same year as the deed from Mary and John Harper above.

9 May 1782 – “An indenture of feoffment between Drury Park of the one part and Anselmn Harper of the other part and the receipt thereon endorsed were acknowledged by the said Drury Parker and ordered to be recorded.” (Southampton County, Virginia, Court Order Book 1778-1784, page 190)

23 Dec. 1785 – Perry Jordan (or Jurden) married Bathsheba (or Barshabah Harper). John Harper listed as father of Bathsheba. Security and witness: John Rodgers, Sam Kello, Hansel Harper, John Harper Jr. (Southampton, Virginia Marriage Registry)

Marriage Registry Pg 043

12 Oct. 1787 – Benjamin Rose married Lucy Harper, security and witness was Anselm Harper. (Southampton, Virginia Marriage Registry) Original bond lists Anselm Harper, but then has a seal at the bottom by the name “Hansel Harper”. (Original bond on Ancestry compliments of Joel Rose and JoanneS728.)

27 Jan. 1789 – William Rose of Surry County, Virginia gives consent for his daughter Elizabeth Rose to marry Hansel Harper of Southampton, Virginia. Witnesses: John Rose and Perry Jordan (Southampton, Virginia marriages, FamilySearch)

Hansel Harper Wm Rose Marriage Consent

27 Jan. 1789 – Anselm Harper uses the names Hansel and Anselm interchangeably on his marriage bond to Elizabeth Rose. Bondsman is John Rose. (Surry County, Virginia Marriages, FamilySearch)

6 April 1792 – Germany (or Jarmany) Ellis married Edith (or Eady) Harper. Consent of John and Edith Harper. Security and witness: John Harper, John Haussmann (Southampton, Virginia Marriage Registry) John’s wife Mary must have died and he remarried a woman named Edith. I don’t know which children were Edith’s.

Marriage Registry Pg 082

Dec. 1798 – Hansel Harper owned land and lived in Southampton, Virginia. He was mentioned in a deed between Thomas Parker, Thomas’ mother Miley and Randolph Newsom. (Southampton, Virginia Deed Book 8, page 733)


1801 – In Saint Luke’s Parrish, Tom Baxter, a free African American, worked as a laborer for Anselm Harper. (Southampton Loose Records, Free African Americans Website, Library of Virginia Accession No. BC 119722, Box # 3 and Digital collections, African American Narrative, Library of Virginia, Contributed by Jon Fitch and Paul Heinegg)

Jan. 1803 – Anselm Harper dies and Howel Harper is made administrator. (Southampton, Virginia Will Book 6, page 7)

Will Book 6 Pg 007

23 February 1803 – John Harper writes his will. No wife is mentioned. Children: Celah Rose, Lucy Rose, John Harper, Shaba Jordan, Edith Ellis, Thomas Harper, Anselm (deceased), Heirs of Anselm: Joseph and James Harper; Lucy and Nancy R. Harper (Southampton, Virginia, Will Book 5, pages 408 – 409)

Early 1803 – Joseph, James and Nancy Harper, children of Anselm, want their guardian, Howell Harper, to sell sixteen acres of land and split the money between them. (Southampton, Virginia, Court Order Book 1802 – 1803, page 240)


May 1803 – Land that belonged to Anselm Harper was sold for 28 pounds 10 shillings. The money went to Howell Harper, listed as guardian of the children of Anselm Harper: James, Joseph and Nancy Harper. (Southampton, Virginia, Court Order Book 1802 – 1803, page 272)


10 May 1803 – John Harper’s will is proved in court. See above entry on 23 Feb. 1803 for original will. (Southampton, Virginia, Will Book 5, pages 408 – 409)

21 May 1804 – Sale of land belonging to Absolm Harper, deceased. Howell Harper, administrator. (Southampton, Virginia, Deed Book 10, pages 281 – 282)


After much research, I suspect that Anselm “Hansel” Harper is my sixth-great-grandfather and the grandfather of James Hansel Harper.

I asked James Hansel Harper’s great-granddaughter to share her Ancestry DNA test matches with me. Using her known Harper matches, I studied shared matches to find a pattern. This is the technique I’ve used before in finding new DNA connections and it works. Her DNA was clearly pointing back to a Harper/Rose connection. She matched descendants of Lucy Harper who married Benjamin Rose, James Rose who married Jerusha McGlawhon, and James Rose who married Edney Harper. I added those couples to my tree to find a common connection. Benjamin and the first James Rose are brothers, sons of William Rose. Lucy Harper is the daughter of John Harper. Edney Harper is the granddaughter of John Harper. I studied records and found that Benjamin and James Rose had a sister named Elizabeth Rose who married a Hansel Harper. The Hansel connection intrigued me. Through review of records, I found that Hansel’s legal name was Anselm. The records are documented in the above timeline.

This narrows down James Hansel Harper’s father to either Joseph or James. I’m still on the hunt to find proof of where both Joseph and James ended up after 1804.

Are you a Harper descendant? You can reach me at

Originally posted March 29, 2019
Updated Feb. 17, 2020

One thought on “Anselm Hansel Harper

  1. Pingback: John Harper of Southampton, Virginia – Down Home Genealogy

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