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Sun Jun 18th, 2017 @ 2:42am

Jess Harper

Name Jess Harper

Position Primary Character


General Information

Aliases Jesse Wade Harper (full birth name)

Jess: Shortly after leaving Montana, Jess dropped the e from the end of his first name. Later, he took legal action to offically change his name.

Former Aliases Used: Jesse Wade, Jess Wade, Johnny Wade

Jess often used aliases made up of his first and middle name in order to avoid the baggage that came with the Harper name, especially as he gained notoriety as a gunfighter. For a brief period of time, he used his father's first name (John) and his mother's maiden name (Wade). He also felt that not using the name Harper meant he was earning his own way and not trading on the powerful family name.
Gender Male
Birthdate March 13, 1845
Age 30
Marital Status Single
Residence Blackbird Lodge
Double L Ranch (Lost Lake Ranch)
Kalispell, Territory of Montana

-1870 to 1875 -
Sherman Ranch and Relay Station
Laramie, Wyoming

Physical Appearance

Height 5'11
Build Medium
Hair Color Black

Jess's hair is thick and wavy with a tendency to curl when damp. It is raven's wing black with strands of silver here and there. He wears it short, slightly longer on top, and usually has neatly trimmed sideburns.
Eye Color Blue

Jess's eyes are deepset and a dark shade of cobalt blue. His eyelashes are black, long and thick. His eyebrows are black, naturally well-shaped, and tilt upward slighly on the inside.

Profession

Employment - June 1875 to Present -

Double L Ranch
Position: Owner, Trustee

- 1870 to 1875 -
Sherman Ranch and Relay Station
Position: Co-Manager, Ranch Hand

Jess started out working as a ranch hand and assisting with the relay station chores when he was not actively engaged riding the stagecoach as a guard. By 1873, John Sherman had made him a co-manager of both the ranch and relay station.

- 1870 to 1875 -
Grand Central Stagecoach Company
Position: Guard, Security Supervisor

Although an actual title did not come with the job, Jess was promoted to oversee the guards working in the southeastern Wyoming region. He still worked riding shotgun on high priority runs.
Professional Skills - Rancher
- Security, Stage Guard
- Scout
- Relay Station Mgr.
- Gunfighter
- Horse Wrangler

Skills

Self Defense - Hand-to-Hand -
Jess has had no formal training in hand-to-hand combat, but he has garnered lots of experience. He has developed a hard hitting style that engages his entire body when he swings allowing him to put power and momentum behind each blow. He often uses both hands.

- Weapons -
Jess was born with natural above average hand-eye coordination. This ability allowed him to become extremely fast and accurate with guns. His natural skill with firearms has been honed by training and, unfortunately, experience. Although he has garnered a reputation as a gunslinger, Jess has never been paid as a gunfighter, nor would he knowingly accept employment in such a capacity.

- Handguns -

Colt Peacemaker (daily use)
Caliber: 44-40
Customizations: Barrel cut back to the ejector, Gutta-Percha grips.

Colt Peacemaker (gunfighter)
Caliber: .45 Long Colt
Customizations: Front sight filed down, ivory grips, inside reworked to make it fast shooting.
Note: In 1870, after settling down in Laramie with the Shermans, Jess put away this gun. To him, it was very symbolic of leaving his former life behind.

- Rifle: 1866 Winchester -
Caliber: 44-40 Win
Barrel Length: 24"
Overall Length: 43"
Length of Pull: 13"
Stock Material: Black Walnut
Magazine Type: Full-Length Tube
Hobbies & Interests - Reading -
Jess developed a love for reading while in school. While he enjoys the odd pulp fiction novel, he prefers books on history and science.

- Horses -
It seems only natural that Jess would have a strong interest in horses. He is a natural horseman, enjoys riding and training them.

- Swimming -
Jess learned to swim for pleasure while in boarding school and it is his preferred form of exercise.

- Music -
All of the Harpers are taught the basics of music while in school. Jess can play the piano reasonably well and is learning the guitar. He does not sing except in church and Christmas carols in season.

Personality & Traits

Character Traits - Quick tempered
- Fiercely independent
- Proud
- Loyal
- Intelligent
- Tender-hearted
- Protective
- Brave
- Often impetuous
- Roguishly charming
General Personality Despite a quick temper and being something of a hot-head, Jess is basically a good man. As he's gotten older, he understands that a great deal of the trouble he's gotten into, particularly the gunfights, could have easily been avoided had he exercised a bit more control over his temper. His temper still gets him into trouble, but not as much and not as badly as in his youth. There is an aura of danger about Jess, yet his presence often instills confidence and a feeling of being protected and safe.

Jess is almost always polite to those deserving it, especially those he respects as figures of authority and older persons. He has a tendency to be flirtatious with ladies of all ages who usually appreciate his roguish charm. Jess is almost always a gentleman when dealing with women although he views committing to one woman and marriage in much the same light as he does rabid dogs. His desire to avoid matrimony, to date, borders on being phobic.

He is fiercely independent and proud, refusing to accept handouts or anything he views as charity. Jess will not take anything he has not earned. He views his accomplishments with pride but is not vain about them.

Jess has a deep, gravelly voice, with a decided Cowboy drawl. Despite the slight raspiness of his voice and a tendency to speak in a low tone, his speech is clear, distinct and easily understood. Jess is not prone to shouting or raising his voice in anger although he will speak forcefully and even in a commanding tone of voice if the situation calls for it.

His usual demeanor is somewhat gruff and reticent which covers the fact that he is actually quite tender-hearted and compassionate. Jess is quick to laugh, joke and tease with those close to him. He takes teasing in stride, actually enjoying companionable ribbing from friends. His humor often has a sharp edge to it.

Jess is highly intelligent and, over the years, he's also become quite life-smart, able to quickly judge a person or a horse with a great deal of accuracy. He prefers to downplay his education and intelligence, often using slang, colloquialisms, and less than perfect grammar to mask it.

Loyalty is very important to Jess. To friends and loved ones, he is fiercely loyal, sometimes past the point where should be. He goes the extra mile to be a good friend where it is deserved and takes having his faith and trust broken very hard.

Family

Children William Cody Harper (Nephew, Ward)
Nickname: Cody
DOB: February 11, 1870 (a. 5)
Parents: Chance and Regina Harper

Regina Antoinette Harper (Niece, Ward)
Nickname: Nettie
DOB: February 11, 1870 (a. 5)
Parents: Chance and Regina Harper

The twins, Cody and Nettie, are the youngest of Chance and Regina's children. Nettie was not with the family on the trip to Missoula. She was kept home due to illness. For some reason, Cody was left alive.

Jess Harper, Chance's younger brother, was designated as the children's guardian and trustee of their estate should anything happen to Chance and Regina. The Judge, knowing of Jess's dicey past, decided to designate Quentin as the children's co-guardian and co-trustee.
Father John Caleb Harper
DOD: 03/02/1868 (a. 62)
Wife: Lilah Faye Harper (Wade)
Parents: Ishmael and Kimi Harper
Mother Lilah Faye Harper
DOD: 06/02/1868 (a. 60)
Husband: John Caleb Harper
Maiden Name: Wade
Brother(s) William Chance Harper
Nickname: Chance
DOB: 01/05/1837; DOD: 06/02/1875 (a. 38)
Wife: Regina Beth Harper (m. 06/05/1862)
Sister(s) Regina Beth Harper (Sister-in-Law)
Nickname: Reggie
Husband: William Chance Harper (m. 06/05/1862)
DOB: 04/05/1845; DOD: 06/02/1875 (a. 30)
Maiden Name: Cantrell
Other Family Lilah Beth Harper (Niece)
Relationship: Niece
DOB: 03/01/1867; DOD: 06/02/1875 (a. 8)

Josiah Grant Harper (Nephew)
DOB: 05/02/1865; DOD: 06/02/1875 (a. 10)

There are numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of the Harper family, including members of the Piegan Blackfeet Nation. Because both Josiah and Caleb Harper adhered to strict inheritance guidelines, the majority of these relatives are scattered all over the Americas, and there is little to no contact.

Friends & Foes

Friends - John Sherman -
-- Relationship: Close friend
-- How Long: 1870 to Present

Jess met John and Marianne Sherman when he was employed by the Grand Central Stagecoach Company as a guard and scout. He and John immediately hit it off and became fast friends. In fact, Jess is closer to John than he was to his brother, Chance. Although Jess has returned to Montana due to family obligations, he and the Shermans are still close, exchanging letters and visiting as time allows.

- Quentin Cantrell -
-- Relationship: Close friend
-- How Long: 1875 to Present

Jess knew that his late sister-in-law had a brother named Quentin, but did not meet him until he brought the news of her and Jess's brother's death to Laramie. The two men were not instant best friends, but a genuine liking and respect grew over time.

- Hannah Cory -
-- Relationship: Ex-fiancé
-- How Long: 1858 to Present

Jess met Hannah when she was hired by Coldwater Creek Ranch to ride fence. The two had a fiery friendship and an even more heated romance. Just prior to the their wedding (1862), Jess killed his first man in a gunfight and fled Coldwater Junction, leaving Hannah standing at the alter. Their road back to friendship will be quite rocky.
Foes Steelgraves: The Steelgrave family have long been enemies of the Harpers. Please see The Steelgrave Wiki Page for details.

Personal History

Personal History - Prior to 1845 -
-- See The Harper Family for details on the family's history.

- March 13, 1845 -
Jesse Wade Harper was born to Caleb and Lilah Faye Harper of Lost Lake Ranch, Kalispell, Territory of Montana.

- 1845 to 1860 (a. 0-15) -
-- Fall 1853 (a. 8): Starts St. Francis School in Fort Kalispell.

Jess spent his early years playing and learning about life on a working ranch. Even as a child, he played hard and worked hard. Caleb saw too much of himself in his younger son and tried to curb the boy's quick-temper and willfulness. Jess often wound up on the wrong end of his father's belt and missing supper by being sent to his room.

Both Jess and Chance were sent to the Catholic school in Fort Kalispell. The Harpers were Catholic and attended Mass when weather allowed, but were not overly devout. Due to the distance to the fort, children from the outlying ranches boarded at the school during the week, returning home on the weekends. Before starting his formal education, Jess had been taught to read, write, and do basic sums by his mother and the ranch foreman's wife, Maggie Forest. Trouble started soon after Jess's arrival at the St. Francis School. Unlike Chance, who was held up as a sterling example of what a young man and student should be, Jess was the school's example of what one should not be. Whenever an opportunity presented itself, Jess escaped. His wandering spirit often found him wandering in Blackfeet territory, often being dragged back to the ranch by members of his grandmother's family.

Despite his tendency to go AWOL, the fighting, and being an all-around pain in the school's assets, Jess was highly intelligent. He enjoyed reading, learned very fast, and usually completed lessons with little effort. It took little to no effort for him to stay at the top of his class, even if Sister Mary often said, rather disparagingly, that Jess was the most likely to be in prison by the age of sixteen.

The bright spot in Jess's life during his years at school was meeting the daughter of Scott Cory. Hannah and Jess became friends when they both attempted to steal the same horse and escape the confines of the fort at age nine. Sheriff Cory, who would later become the town marshal when the fort was converted to military use and the town was established, found them and dragged them back to the school. He also sent a letter to Caleb Harper regarding the incident which ensured that Jess wouldn't sit down for dinner for a day or two.

One of the few things that put him on his father's good side, initially, was Jess's remarkable hand-eye coordination and stunning natural ability as a marksman. He was also showing an affinity with horses. Even as a child, he could soothe some of the ranch's hardest to manage horses. Whenever Caleb took his sons hunting or sport-shooting, it almost always Jess that brought back the game or won the contests. Caleb's tendency to brag about Jess's prowess with guns would sow the first seeds of his reputation as a fast gun and gunslinger.

- 1861 (a. 16) -
-- 1861 (a. 16): Jess is expelled from school.
-- 1861 (a. 16): Regina Cantrell sent to live with the Harpers.

By the time Jess was sixteen, Chance had completed his studies at Wesleyan College in Stockton, California and was home. For awhile, the constant contention with his father was alleviated as Chance and Caleb clashed on how to manage the businesses and the business end of the ranch. Chance had gotten his degree in business and economics.

After getting into a fight with another boy at school and beating him rather badly, both the school and Marshal Scott Cory had had enough of Jess Harper. He was expelled from St. Francis and sent home. Caleb was furious and fed up. He sent Jess to live in the bunkhouse, deciding that it was time to make him stand on his own two feet. Had Lilah not interfered, he'd have sent Jess away with his percentage of the Harper Legacy Trust.

Being ejected from the house and forced to live as one of the ranch's hands actually had a positive effect on Jess. He loved the work, and the foreman reported that he pulled his share without shirking or complaint. The only problem was his already burgeoning reputation as a gunman. Some of the hands, usually the younger ones, felt a need to challenge him to speed duels. Both Hap, the foreman, and his parents feared it would someday lead to actual gunfighting.

Jess also began going steady with Hannah Cory. His long-time friendship with the marshal's daughter had developed into stronger feelings once they reached their teen years. With a steady job and income, Jess was able to consider taking the next step in his life, a home, and family. He figured that when he came of age, the stipend from the Legacy plus his savings would let him buy a ranch of his own. It would be a good start for the life he wanted to spend with Hannah.

In the same year, long-time friends of the Harpers sent their daughter, Regina, to live with them. The Cantrells were worried about the coming troubles and maybe war. Montana seemed like a safe place to send their daughter. She and Jess's older brother, Chance, quickly fall in love and arranged to be married the following year. The wedding was planned for June of 1862.

- 1862 (a. 17) -
-- 1862: Proposed to Hannah Cory.
-- 1862: Jess leaves Montana the night before his wedding.

By the spring of 1862, the Harper family's thoughts were on weddings. Chance and Regina were to be married in June. Jess was also thinking of marriage. Jess requested permission from Marshal Scott Cory to ask his daughter for her hand. With her father's blessing as well as his parents', Jess proposed to Hannah just after the New Year. Hannah said yes, and she and Jess began making plans. As neither of them wanted a large ceremony, their parents decided it could be done before the larger, more elaborate wedding planned for Regina and Chance.

A few days before his wedding date, Jess escorted Regina on a shopping trip to Missoula. They timed it so that he could easily make it home in plenty of time to get to the church on Saturday morning. After leaving a store, Regina was accosted by Calvin Steelgrave, one of Elijah Steelgrave's sons. The Steelgraves were bitter business and personal rivals of the Harpers. Jess happened by the alley that Steelgrave had dragged Regina into and heard the sound of a woman struggling with a man. Jess rushed in to render aid. He dragged Calvin off his future sister-in-law and beat him before taking him to the sheriff. After pressing charges and making their statements, Jess and Regina headed for their hotel.

The next day, already free on bail, Calvin attempted to shoot Regina and Jess as they left the hotel. Jess responded automatically and kills Calvin in the shootout. It was clearly a case of self-defense and of defending Regina. There were numerous witnesses, so no charges were brought against Jess. Still, the other Steelgrave brothers vowed to get Jess and anyone that got in their way.

Knowing what would happen once his father was told of the incident and believing the Steelgraves a real threat to him and his family, Jess decided not to return to the ranch. He made sure Regina had a safe escort home. As expected, Caleb was furious with his son. Despite objections from Lilah, Chance, and Regina, he disowns Jess.

- 1862 to 1865 (a. 17-20) -
-- May 12, 1865 - May 13, 1865: Battle of Palmitto Ranch, Texas

Although Jess regretted killing Calvin Steelgrave and the hurt and humiliation he was sure Hannah felt when he didn't show up for their wedding, he liked being on his own. He had a little money and was able to get a good horse which left him low on cash and needing work. With the Civil War in full swing, Jess's first impulse was to head to the nearest fort and enlist in the Union army. Careful self-examination during the journey changed his mind. If he resented his father's disciplinary measures and had hated the structure forced on him at school, there was no way he would make it in the army.

Jess worked his way down to Texas. Due to his youth, a majority of the jobs was as a fence rider. Only a few places were willing to take a chance on him as a full hand. He loved being on the move and before long, the urge to travel the Big Open dominated his life. In 1864, a man buying horses for the army saw Jess ride and was impressed with the boy's self-confidence. He offered Jess a job on the spot riding dispatch and scouting. Jess accepted and a little while later reported to Fort Lincoln.

In 1865, Jess was with the Union army for the Battle of Palmitto Ranch in Cameron County, Texas, the final action fought by Union and Confederate soldiers. Jess was wounded and captured along with one hundred Union soldiers. A few weeks later, Jess was released along with several other non-military men. Shortly after his release, he was approached by Randolph Cutler and offered a job. He billed himself as a resources manager. Cutler acted as the middle man and point of contact for ranchers and law enforcement. He supplied personnel for a modest premium.

Jess accepted the offer, figuring it would be easier to get jobs. What he did not know was that Cutler had another enterprise. He ran a group of disenfranchised men that worked as rustlers, raiders, robbers, and extortionists. He used the legitimate operation to find out when and where to strike. By the time Jess realized what Cutler was doing, the damage was done, and he was wanted for riding with Cutler's Raiders.

- 1866 to 1869 (a. 21-24) -
-- March 2, 1868: Caleb Harper dies of natural causes (a. 62).
-- June 2, 1868: Lilah Harper dies of natural causes (a. 60).
-- 1869: Arrested as a member of the Cutler's Raiders.

After splitting with the Cutler Raiders, Jess drifted and worked various jobs: wrangler, ranch hand, guard and scout. His quick temper, and sense of justice and fair play continued to get him into trouble although it also garnered him respect and a few good friends. He also worked several range wars although he refused to lead attacks and ambushes and would only fight in self-defense and defense of his employer. This was actually a hallmark of his life. Jess would fight and often did, but only on the side of justice.

Jess did not seek out gunfights, but would not back down or run from them either. With no shortage of men wanting to make their own mark by beating the best, Jess's reputation and his legend grew to the point that he often did not recognize himself in the stories.

While working on a ranch in Colorado, Jess got word that his father had passed away. He had re-established contact with Chance and his mother through letters, but the ones he sent his father came back to him unopened. Despite that, he decided to head for Montana and pay his respects. By the time he arrived, he had learned his mother had also passed away. Jess made it in time for her funeral but watched from a distance. He left without making contact with the family.

In 1869, at age 24, Jess decided he wanted to clear his name and returned to Brownsville, Texas. He turned himself in after hiring a good lawyer. Thanks to numerous witnesses and a skillful defense, Jess was subsequently cleared of all charges. With his acquittal papers in hand, Jess headed back out.

- 1870 to 1875 (a. 25-30) -
-- 1870: Grand Central Stagecoach Company: Guard, Scout, Driver
-- Fall 1870: Spots Lakota for the first time
-- 1871: Charged with murder in Willow, Colorado.

In 1870, Jess took a job with the Grand Central Stagecoach Company as a guard, scout. He would be stationed out of Laramie, Wyoming. On his way to report for his new job, he was ambushed by a couple of bounty hunters and shot. His horse made its way to the Sherman Ranch and Relay Station, the last stop on the stagecoach's line before town. John Sherman and his wife, the owners, took him in, defended him when the bounty hunters showed. After learning that they were hunting him for personal reasons, not legal ones, John offered him work on their ranch and a place to live.

Jess accepted and moved into the bunkhouse. When not actively engaged riding shotgun for the stage and express coaches, Jess pitched in and worked the ranch. John's two sons, Andy and Mike, were soon calling him Uncle Jess. For the first time in years, Jess felt at home and began losing the urge to go on the drift again. He loved the Shermans and felt at home in Wyoming.

In the early fall of 1870, a few months after settling at the Sherman Ranch, Jess was bringing in strays from the high country. During the ride down, he spotted a small band of wild horses and was taken by a striking black and white yearling colt. Jess knew the colt would not be sent to the army since they only took solid color horses. He determined to ask John about the colt. He saw promise in the yearling and thought he might make a good foundation sire for his own herd someday. When he asked Sherm about the pinto, Jess was told that the yearling's dam was a Tennessee Pacer that John brought back after the war. The colt was the result of an outlaw wild stallion managing to steal and breed several of the ranch's bloodstock mares. Jess asked if he could buy the colt. Sherman laughed and told him that if he could catch it and break it, he could have it as a gift for his hard work on the ranch.

Jess named the colt Lakota after the Lakota Sioux who had taken him in and nursed him back to health after a rattlesnake bite. Jess managed to capture the spirited yearling and bring him to the ranch Lakota proved a challenge to gentle and train, but he would eventually become the best horse that Jess had ever broken to ride, even surpassing his beloved gelding, Brimstone.

While delivering stock to a rancher just outside Willow, Colorado, Jess was framed for murder by an old friend who was having an affair with the man's wife. Jess was finally able to clear himself, but it resulted in more handbills being circulated and not recalled.

- 1875 (a. 30) -
-- 06/02/1875: Chance, Regina, Beth and Grant Harper are murdered.
-- 06/02/1875: Cody and Nettie Harper (a. 5) are orphaned.

In a stunning quirk of fate, Jess's brother, sister-in-law, and their two oldest children are killed seven years to the day after their mother's passing. This begins Jess's next journey. . .

Character Notes

General Notes - Languages Spoken -
-- English (Native)
-- Spanish (Fluent)
-- Native American sign language, smattering of languages

- Education -
Jess completed his junior year of high school before being expelled. He can read, write, and do basic math. Jess is well-read although he never returned to school.

- Marks and Scars -
Star shaped scar on left shoulder from gunshot wound (Civil War, May 12, 1865): Shot at the Battle of Palmitto Ranch, Texas.

Round scar, outside upper right leg, gunshot wound (Shotgun, Overland Stage, 1873): Shot during attempted hold-up.

Jess has a few other faint scars from various injuries received over the years as well as some from close calls from being on the wrong end of a gun, including a long crease in the hairline of his left temple.

- Chance Harper's Last Will and Testament -
Despite a tradition mandated by their great grandfather, Josiah Harper, and perpetuated by Caleb Harper, Chance chose to leave half of Coldwater Creek Ranch to his younger brother. Jess was also named as sole guardian and trustee for Chance's children, the only survivors are the twins, Cody and Nettie.

- Judge Mandrell's Ruling -
In the best interests of the children, Judge Robert Mandrell set aside some of the dictates of the will. He stipulated that the twin's other uncle, Quentin Cantrell, would share guardianship of them and management of their now extensive business interests. The judge also added a requirement that the two men hire a suitable woman to help care for the child stating that he would personally review the arrangements in six months' time.
Animals & Pets - Horse -
Name: Lakota
Gender: Stallion
Age: 6 years
Hands: Not quite 17 hands.
Breed: Mixed (Spanish Mustang / Tennessee Pacer)
Color: Black and White Paint
Disposition: Lakota is quite spirited, but well mannered and very well trained. Although there is no such thing as a one-person horse, Lakota shows a marked preference for Jess and is quite hard to manage for others. Like any horse, he has become accustomed to being handled and ridden in a certain way.

Jess has not had Lakota gelded as he intends to make him a foundation sire of his own bloodstock line someday.
Character Concept As the name suggests, Sagas' Jess Harper is based on the character of Jess Harper from the classic television western series, Laramie. I have also incorporated aspects of the character Cooper Smith from Wagon Train, also portrayed by Robert Fuller. An original background has been created for the RPG character.

Jess is designed to be the classic western leading man and hero with a troubled past, and something of a Knight Errant often coming to the aid of those he considers down and out or as the underdog in various situations.
Avatar Robert Fuller (circa early 1960s).