Local History and Genealogy

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Little Mary Harp, 97 Years Old, Wants a Doll Cab from Santa

"Little Mary" Harp has lived at eighty-three of her ninety-seven years as a patient in the Steuben county infirmary, and she establishes a record for age among Indiana infirmary residents.  She entered the Steuben
County Institution at the age of fourteen years in the year 1854.

The home that "Little Mary" entered was not a public infirmary.  At that time those needing assistance were boarded out and Mary was placed in the home of Mr Cobb, who occupied the little log house on the west side of the road which runs past the present county farm.  In 1863 the county purchased the land for a county farm and built a white frame house, the construction of which Little Mary watched with interest.  Some of that house still exists as a portion of one of the barns. Later she saw the erection of the fine brick building, which has been her home since then.

"Little Mary" was the third patient to be cared for by the public, and came there with her brother, David.  In their early years, because of their small size, they attracted much attention at the local fairs and public gatherings.

"Little Mary's" mother is buried in a grave at Golden Lake.  Her father was killed in the gold fields of California in 1849, and it was two or three years afterwards before the letter carrying information of his death reached this community.  She remembers the presence of Indians in this vicinity, and incidents of the Civil War.

However, "Little Mary" in spite of her advanced years, is still very active to the extent of her strength.  She is happy, contented, loyal and honest.

"Little Mary" acquired her name because it is a description of her interests.  She is a dwarf of about the size of s 100 year old girl and lives in the same period of mentality.  She is three feet, ten inches high and weighs fifty-four pounds.  Her chief  happiness is found playing with her doll "Vera," which appears in the above picture.  She still believes in Santa Claus, and is sure he will bring her on this coming Christmas day, a doll cab for "Vera."  **

 Steuben Republican December 8, 1937

* * Mary Harp died in December 1945 just a few days before her 105th birthday.  She is buried with her brother David at Old Angola Cemetery.