Stats

  • 35 Episode Scenes
  • 9 News Items

Last Post

Mon Dec 11th, 2017 @ 5:22am

Jess Harper

Name Jess Harper

Position Rancher

Second Position Primary Character


General Information

Aliases Jesse Warren Harper: Birth name.

Jess: Nickname and the name he used after leaving Montana.

Former Aliases Used: Jesse Warren, Harper Warren, Johnny Warren, Jesse Hart, Johnny Hart.

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 middle name (Warren). He also felt that not using the name Harper meant he was earning his own way and not trading on the powerful family name.

Eyes Like Sky (Blackfeet name): This name was given to him by one of the elders of his grandmother's clan-family.
Gender Male
Birthdate March 13, 1845
Age 30
Marital Status Single
Residence Blackbird Lodge
Double L Ranch (Lost Lake Ranch)
Kalispell, Territory of Montana

Jess was born at the family home on their ranch in Montana where he lived until he was sixteen years old. At the age of sixteen, he moved out of the house and into the bunkhouse with the other ranch hands.

In 1875, Jess inherited Blackbird Lodge and half the ranch after the death of his older brother Chance, his sister-in-law, Regina, and their two older children. Jess returned to live at the ranch and look after his his niece and nephew, Cody and Antoinette (Nettie).

-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 overseeing 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 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 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: 1873 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 how to swim a little from his Blackfeet cousins. Regina Cantrell taught him a little bit more, but it is not something he is comfortable with. He can keep his head above water, but would likely have difficulty in bad weather or really rough water.

- 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 Jess does not have any children of his own. He shares guardianship of his orphaned niece and nephew with their maternal uncle, Quentin Cantrell.

Birth Parents: Chance and Regina Harper

William Cody Harper: Nephew, Ward
DOB: February 11, 1870 (a. 5)
Appearance: Cody has his father's and Uncle Jess's raven black hair and deep blue eyes. His hair is thick and wavy, he also has dark brows and long, thick black eyelashes.

Personality Details
Cody is a rather shy but loving little boy. Since witnessing the murders of his parents and older siblings, Cody has become very withdrawn and distrustful of adults. He still plays hard and rough, he's all boy in that regard. Cody has inherited his Uncle Jess's temper, and it gets displayed when he feels Nettie needs to be protected. This makes it challenging to discipline his twin sister as the adult administering the discipline might find themselves on the receiving end of a sharp kick to the shins. Cody prefers to follow the rules and stay out of trouble. However, he often finds himself in the thick of it due to following Nettie on her adventures in an effort to dissuade her from them.

Although just beginning to read a bit, Cody is proving to be the more studious of the twins. He is the one that has developed their secret twin-language and comes up with plans for their games. He's quite good at checkers and shows promise as a strategist and tactician. Cody is also very good with horses, showing a natural knowledge and instinct for riding and caring for them.

Regina Antoinette Harper: Niece, Ward
DOB: February 11, 1870 (a. 5)
Appearance: Nettie has Regina's beautiful, golden brown hair and her father's light-blue eyes. Her eyebrows and lashes are slightly darker than her hair, but golden tipped which matches the natural highlights in her hair. Nettie's hair is thick and wavy, and she prefers to wear it cut short. She hates being forced to stay still for someone to comb, brush and braid her hair for her.

Personality Details
Nettie is very bold, outgoing, and outspoken. Unlike her twin brother, Cody, she is far from shy. Like her Uncle Jess, Nettie seems to have a talent for finding and getting into trouble. Despite this predilection for getting into trouble, Nettie is very calm and cool-headed. She's also already exhibiting her uncle's extraordinary hand-eye coordination. Nettie's too little to handle a gun alone, but the adults around her have noted she hits what she aims at.

She prefers pants to dresses although she is learning that there are occasions when she has to don a dress. Nettie and Cody roughhouse with one another, but heaven forbid that someone else starts a tussle with one or the other because they will leap to one another's defense no matter the odds. Despite being a tomboy by nature, Nettie is very affectionate and quite happy to curl up with trusted adults for a nap, a story, or just to be cuddled.

Twin Relationship
The twins are very close and exhibit many of the uncanny senses where one another are concerned as other twins do. They almost have a general awareness of one another's location although if there's much distance involved, it'll be just a case of being able to point in what direction someone should look. They do have their own language, and it's not unusual to see them leaning forehead to forehead as if communicating directly mind-to-mind. They aren't, of course, but many adults would say otherwise. Nettie and Cody routinely start and finish one another's sentences.
Father John Caleb Harper
DOD: 03/02/1868 (a. 62)
Wife: Isadora Kiara de Monserrat y Calderón
Parents: Ishmael and Kimi Harper
Mother Isadora Harper
DOD: 06/02/1868 (a. 60)
Husband: John Caleb Harper
Maiden Name: Isadora Kiara de Monserrat y Calderón
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 Isadora 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: 1853 to Present

Hannah and Jess were childhood friends and teenage sweethearts. They began dating at the age of sixteen and and planned to be married in the spring of their seventeenth year. While on a shopping trip a few days prior to the planned elopement date, Jess was embroiled in a gunfight and killed a man. He lit out from Montana, leaving Hannah standing at the altar. Over the years, his alleged exploits have continued to taint how she views him.
Foes Steelgraves: The Steelgrave family have long been enemies of the Harpers. Please see The Steelgrave Wiki Page for details.

Personal History

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

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

- 1845 to 1860 (a. 0-15) -

-- Fall 1851 (a. 6): Starts homeschooling. --
Jess's early years were spent playing and learning about life on a working ranch, which he loved. His strong-willed mother was a major influence during his childhood. Like his brother, Chance, he grew up fluent in both English and Spanish. He also inherited her hot Latin temper although he did not resort to Spanish to make his anger known. Caleb also saw much of himself in his younger son's quick-temper and tendencies to impetuous action. Jess often wound up on the wrong end of his father's hand, belt, or missing supper due to being sent to his room.

Since the only school in the region was more than twenty miles away, Jess's early education was done at home. Isadora and Kate Hale, along with some of the ranch hands' wives shared teaching. Classes were held in one of the ranch's cabins when the number of students exceeded the capacity of the main house's school room.

Jess enjoyed school and was a fast learner. Unfortunately, his temper and his issues with discipline made him a difficult student. Despite this, his grades remained high, and he was often tackling subjects that were challenging for the older students, another thing that did not endear him to his peers. Another issue was keeping him in school. If the day was fair and he was bored he would escape during recess to go hiking or riding.

-- Fall 1859 (a. 14): Starts St. Francis School in Fort Kalispell. --
The only school in the region was run by a small group of Jesuits. It was located just north of Fort Kalispell. In 1845, it became the St. Francis School, part of the St. Francis Catholic Church, and was relocated to Fort Kalispell, a stockaded settlement. Due to the distance to the fort, children from the outlying ranches boarded at the school during the week, returning home on the weekends.

Like his older brother, Chance, Jess was sent to the St. Francis School when he turned fourteen. Trouble started soon after Jess's arrival at the 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. Knowing that he'd get a good whipping if he headed home, he often headed for his grandmother's relatives with the Blackfoot tribe. Usually, older members of the tribe would drag him back to the ranch where he had to face the consequences for running away.

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 easily. It took little to no effort for him to stay at the top of his class, even if Sister Mary John often said, rather disparagingly, that Jess was the most likely of her students 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. 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.

-- Fall 1860 (a. 15): Reputation with guns. --
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 also showed an affinity with horses. Even as a child, he could soothe some of the ranch's hardest to manage horses. Whenever Caleb took Jess and Chance hunting or sport-shooting, it was usually 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. --
By the time Jess was sixteen, Chance had completed his studies at Wesleyan College in Stockton, California and was home. For a while, 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 Sheriff 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 Isadora 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 complaining. Unfortunately, and partially in response to his father's tendency to brag about his skill, Jess often found himself being challenged to speed contests by the other hands. Most of them did not like that a boy his age was considered better with guns than they were. The speed duels were harmless, blank cartridges were used instead of live ammo. The only thing that kept Caleb from banning Jess from the ranch entirely was the fact that his son usually refused to shoot at anything other than cans or bottles. On several occasions, Caleb and Ezra heard Jess refuse a speed duel. He would tell the other person that he never drew a gun on a man unless he intended to shoot him. If the other men really wanted to test their speed against him, Jess would ask someone with a stopwatch to time them. He rarely lost.

-- 1861 (a. 16): Jess begins dating Hannah Cory --
Shortly after Jess became a ranch hand, he and Hannah Cory began dating. Their long-time friendship had gradually developed into deeper feelings for one another. 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.

-- 1861 (a. 16): Regina Cantrell arrives, Civil War begins --
In the same year, Regina Cantrell, the daughter of very old and dear friends, was sent to live with the Harpers. 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 fell in love and arranged to be married the following year. The wedding was planned for June of 1862.

- 1862 (a. 17) -

-- April 1862: Receives high school diploma. --
Jess continued studying on his own and with Hannah Cory who shared her notes, school books, and lessons with him. Just after the New Year, he sent a letter to the St. Francis School asking to be allowed to take the final exams for graduation in the spring. The school agreed, and Jess is allowed to take his exams. He graduated at the top of his class.

-- May 1862: Proposed to Hannah Cory. --
In the late spring of 1862, with Chance and Regina's wedding a couple of months away, Jess proposed to Hannah who happily accepted. Unfortunately, Hannah's father refused his permission, stating that if they felt the same way in a year or two, he would agree to it then. Hannah and Jess made plans to elope, agreeing to meet the night after Jess returned from escorting Regina on a shopping trip to Missoula.

-- May 1862: Jess kills Calvin Steelgrave. --
Jess was elected to escort Regina Cantrell to Missoula so that she could finish shopping for her and Chance's wedding. He was happy to make the journey with her because he planned on buying his and Hannah's rings while there.

After leaving a store, Regina was accosted by Calvin Steelgrave, one of Elijah Steelgrave's sons. 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 rather badly before taking him to the sheriff. After pressing charges and making their statements, Jess and Regina returned to the hotel.

The next day, already free on bail, Calvin attempted to shoot Regina as she and Jess left the hotel. Jess responded automatically and killed 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. The Steelgraves and the Harpers had long been at odds with one another. Believing that they posed a real threat to himself and his family, Jess chose not to return to the ranch. He made sure Regina had a safe escort home. He gave Regina a letter for his parents, but in his haste to get her on the stagecoach, he neglected to tell her about his planned elopement with Hannah.

- 1862 to 1865 (a. 17-20): Civil War Years -

-- Late May, 1862 (a. 17): Disowned --
Jess had not planned on leaving Montana permanently. He only wanted to stay away long enough for the dust to settle. Figuring he could settle things with Hannah once he got home, he didn't risk sending a letter or telegram for fear their plans would be exposed. He had enough money to buy a good horse and get a room at a boarding house in Helena.

Instead of receiving a letter from his father telling him it was safe to come home, John Caleb arrived at the boarding house. His first action was to knock Jess to the floor. He then informed his son that he had been disowned and was no longer welcome at the ranch. Without giving Jess time to explain or give him a message for Hannah, Caleb walked out.

Jess regretted killing Calvin Steelgrave, and he was hurt and angry by his father's action. In spite of these things, he found that he liked being on his own. After buying the horse and paying for his board, he found himself in need of 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.

Due to his youth, a majority of the jobs he was offered was riding fence or wrangling strays for various ranches. 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 skill and self-confidence. He offered Jess a job on the spot riding dispatch and training as a scout. 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 forces. 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.

-- June 1865 (a. 20): Cutler's Raiders --
Shortly after his release, Jess was approached by Randolph Cutler and offered a job. Cutler's stated line of work was providing hands for various ranches in the area, making it easy for them to find top workers as needed. He also provided men for riding posses and as deputies. Not having to actively look for work suited Jess at the time and he signed on with Cutler. What he did not know was that Cutler had another enterprise. He ran a group of disenfranchised men and outlaws that worked as rustlers, raiders, robbers, and extortionists. He used the legitimate operation to determine the best targets and find out when and where to strike.

Jess left Cutler's organization and Texas without learning about the man's other line of work. He had already left when the wanted posters on him were circulated.

- 1866 to 1868 (a. 21-23) -

-- March 2, 1868: Caleb Harper dies of natural causes (a. 62). --

-- June 2, 1868: Isadora Harper dies of natural causes (a. 60). --

At the end of the Civil War, Jess attempted to reestablish contact with his family. He sent letters to his parents and Chance. Isadora and Chance wrote back to him, always expressing their love, but advising him to stay away. Nothing had changed where John Caleb was concerned. All of the letters he sent to his father were returned to him unopened.

While working on a ranch in Colorado, Jess got word that his father had passed away. He decided to head for Montana and pay his respects. By the time he arrived, he had learned that 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. Jess did not want to be a source of trouble for Chance who would have enough on his hands now that he was the owner of the ranch and Harper family business interests.

-- 1869 (a. 24): Turns himself in to clear his name of the charge of being one of Cutler's Raiders. --
After splitting with the Cutler Raiders, Jess drifted and worked various jobs: wrangler, ranch hand, guard and scout. 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. He tried to learn and evaluate all the issues involved in these actions before hiring on and refused jobs that called for being paid a bounty for killing the opposition. Killing for hire was a line that Jess never crossed, not counting his occasional work for law enforcement and the military.

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. 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. On the reverse of the coin, it also meant that his reputation as a gunfighter helped him avoid fights since many men backed down after hearing his name.

In 1869, while working on a ranch in Colorado, Jess was given one of the wanted posters still in circulation in Texas. He was shocked and immediately made plans to clear his name. Like most people, he'd heard of Cutler's Raiders but never thought much about it since he'd only worked legitimate jobs for Randolph Cutler. The ranch owner gave him a letter of reference and told him he would have a job waiting when he got things sorted out in Texas.

Jess returned to Brownsville, Texas where 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. Although he kept the letter of reference he'd received at his last job, Jess did not return to Colorado.

- 1870 to 1875 (a. 25-30) -

-- 1870 (a. 25): Grand Central Stagecoach Company: Guard, Scout, Driver. --
Jess was offered a job with the Grand Central Stagecoach Company as a guard and scout. He would be stationed out of Laramie in the territory of Wyoming. On his way to report for his new job, Jess 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 up and nursed him back to health. 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.

-- Fall 1870 (a. 25): Spots Lakota for the first time. --
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 grullo colored yearling colt. When he asked Sherm about the horse, Jess was told that the yearling's dam was a Colonial Quarter Horse that John bought after the war. He'd planned on using the mare as one of the foundations of his bloodstock herd. The colt's sire was an outlaw, a feral Quarter Horse that had gotten loose from another ranch and periodically raided for mares. John also told Jess that if he could bring in the colt, he could have him, especially if he managed to capture the black mare too. Since his bay, Brimstone, was getting on in years, Jess decided to make a try for the big smoky dun colt.

Jess named the colt Lakota after the Lakota Sioux who had taken him in and nursed him back to health after a rattlesnake bite. He eventually managed to capture the spirited yearling and bring him and his dam to the ranch. Lakota proved a challenge to gentle and train. In time, however, he became the best horse that Jess had ever trained, even surpassing his beloved gelding, Brimstone.

-- 1871 (a. 26): Charged with murder in Willow, Colorado. --
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. --
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.

-- Late June thru Early July 1875: Meets Quentin Cantrell, begins the journey back to Montana. --

In late June, a stranger arrives at the Sherman ranch on the morning stage. Hard on his heels are several gunmen. After a pitched gun battle, Jess learns that the stranger is Quentin Cantrell, the brother of his sister-in-law. Quentin sadly informs Jess of the deaths of Chance, Regina, and their two oldest children, Beth and Grant. He also tells Jess that he was named in the will as the guardian of the two remaining children. He's needed at home.

Three days later, Jess and Quentin set off for Montana. They are ambushed near the border of Idaho and Quentin is wounded in the arm. Jess patches Quentin up as best as he can, but infection sets in. Hoping to find a good doctor, he makes arrangements for train passage to Sacramento. While Quentin rests, Jess learns that there is now a small private railroad line that runs to Missoula Mills in Montana. He spends a bit extra to book the train's private car.

Character Notes

General Notes - Languages Spoken -
-- English (Native)
-- Spanish (Fluent, learned from mother)
-- 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.

- For details regarding the Harpers' wills, see The Harper Family Wiki.
Animals & Pets - Horses -
Name: Lakota
Nickname: Kota
Gender: Stallion
Age: 6 years
Hands: Not quite 17 hands.
Breed: Quarter Horse
Color: Grullo (Smoky Black)
Color Details: Lakota is a black grullo (p. grew-yoh), his body color is a lighter shade than his mane and tail. He has the distinctive black dorsal stripe common to all duns. His mane and tail are a darker black and he has four black stockings.

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.

Name: Harlequin
Nickname: Harle (p. har-lee)
Previous Owner: Chance Harper
Gender: Gelding
Age: 8 years
Hands: 16.1 hands
Breed: Quarter Horse / Spanish Mustang
Color: Medicine Hat paint.
Color Details: Harle is a black and white pinto (aka paint). His base coat is white with black patterns. His mane, tail, and legs are black. Harle's face is mostly white with. His crown and ears are black giving him the appearance of wearing a hat, hence how this color pattern received its name of medicine hat. Harle's left eye has a narrow, light blue ring around the iris. A blue eye on a horse is uncommon, but not detrimental or more prone to equine eye diseases than normal brown irises His right eye is a normal dark brown.

Disposition: Harle is a strongly spirited mount, but mostly well-mannered. He is a top stock and saddle horse. His Quarter Horse blood gives him speed and agility while the Mustang blood gives him endurance. Harle was bred and trained on the ranch.

Name: Brimstone
Gender: Gelding
Age: 13 years
Hands: 16 hands
Breed: Quarter Horse
Color: Blood Bay

Brimstone is a horse Jess got while working in Texas. The horse is a big blood bay Quarter Horse with black points. Jess gave him to the Shermans as a mount for one of their sons when he moved back to Montana.
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).