Harper is on U.S. Highway 290 twenty-three miles west of Fredericksburg in far western Gillespie County. It is in the heart of the Hill Country and has an ideal climate. The site was first settled by the Matthew Taylor and Eli McDonald families in 1863. A historical marker shows the site of the McDonald massacre of August 1864, in which two members of the McDonald family were killed by Kiowa Indians, a young mother and four children were captured, and the elderly Aunt Hannah escaped. The first post office was established in 1883 by George Franklin Harper, for whom the town was named. Harper celebrated its centennial in 1963, and more than 15,000 visitors attended the festivities. In 1985 the town served a large ranching area and had six churches, a fire department and ambulance service, a public school, and growing residential subdivisions. As of 1982 Harper had the oldest bank still operating in Gillespie County. The population was 383 in 1982 and 1990. By 2000, however, it had grown to 1,006.
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Harper by the Numbers
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|1,346||2019||Texas Demographic Center|
|1,192||2010||Texas Demographic Center|
|1,006||2000||Texas Demographic Center|