The name of Captain Richard Bailey Harper is one that is well known to the citizens of Santa Clara County, since he has been a resident of this county continuously for fifty-seven years. Captain Harper has been associated throughout his entire residence in the West with the mining interests of the coast. Born at Redruth in Cornwall, England, June 3, 1847, he is a son of William and Elizabeth (Bailey) Harper; his father, William Harper, was a mechanical engineer and followed his profession all over England, Scotland and Waes; later in life he was sent to Spain in this line of work, and passed away there. When Richard B. Harper was sixteen years of age he embarked for the United States, and in November, 1863, he came on a sailing vessel around Cape Horn to Valparaiso, Chile, thence on a steamer to Panama, then on the Golden Gate to San Francisco, arriving in March, 1864, locating at Grass Valley, where he worked in the mines for a little over a year; then for two years worked in the Comstock gold and silver mines at Virginia City, Nev. 

During the year of 1865 he came to Santa Clara County where he was engaged in the New Almaden mines for three years; then in the New Idria mines. He was solicited and returned to his former position in the Almaden mines and remained there for about three years. By this time, his experience in the management of mines, had become varied, and he was engaged as foreman in the Mariposa gold mines for ten months: thence going to Grass Valley for about one year and he was then employed as foreman of the gold mines in Virginia City, Nev.; then was, for a time, foreman of the Silver Wave Mining Company at White Pines, Nev.; then for a year and a half was in charge of the Troy mines, in Nye County, Nev., owned and operated by an English company. 

Returning to San Jose about this time, he was the fortunate discoverer of the North Almaden quicksilver mines in Santa Clara County, and it was here that he built his first quicksilver furnace. In 1872 the company was incorporated under the name of the North Almaden Quicksilver Mining Company, and their production, at one time, amounted to ten tons per day. The company maintained an office in Sah Francisco, but the headquarters were at the mines, Captain Harper being general manager and trustee of the company. The ground on which the mines were located was leased, and on the expiration of the lease, they were unable to secure a renewal, and in 1876, the company was dissolved. Captain Harper then removed to Sinaloa, Mexico, taking charge of the silver mines of the Alacan Mining Company of San Francisco. Upon his return to the United States, he was recommended to the British government, and was designated as "Her Majesty's Inspector of Mines." His territory was confined to British Columbia, and he was thus engaged for two years. He was instrumental in erecting the first gold mine smelter in Cariboo. Upon severing his relations with the English government, he returned to San Jose, and took charge of the Mariposa County mines; also the Red Cloud mines, in which capacity he worked for two years; then for six years, he travelled in Mexico for an English company, as mine inspector, traveling from Mexico City to the northern boundary; he then purchased the New Almaden mines in Mexico for an American company, and erected the first continuous quicksilver furnace in Mexico; he was with this company for two years. Upon his return to San Jose, he purchased the Santa Teresa quicksilver mines for a company in Boston, Mass.; also purchasing what was known as the -Old Chapman" mine, operating both of these mines for three years; he again returned to Mexico, this time purchasing a mine in the state of Chihuahua, and for almost a year he operated this mine. He was obliged, on account of the.revolution and unsettled conditions, to abandon his project, and was fortunate enough to escape unharmed, although he encountered many hardships, and was obliged many times to fight for his life. He has large and valuable interests in Chihuahua, but is unable to look after them on account of the conditions there. In all Captain Harper has made sixty-eight trips to Mexico and return. Still following the line of work he was best fitted for, in 1907, he became a mine examiner, and was actively engaged as a mine inspector for seven years, and because of his varied experience in all manner of mines, he is considered one of the experts on mining in the United States. He has held the position of examiner of mines not only for the British government, but for the American government, and now, although advanced in years, is consulted when something unusual comes up. He has personally inspected every mine of consequence, from British Columbia to Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, South America. He was referred to as the junior expert, and for years travelled with George Hearst, the father of William R. Hearst, who was known as the senior adviser. When questions of valuation of mining property came up, the junior expert was always consulted, and his advice often decided the case. Since 1914, he has been obliged to seek a rest from his active duties, but is often called in consultation, regarding valuations and productiveness of mining properties. At one time he was the owner of large real estate interests in Santa Clara County, but now his interests are centered in mining property; he owns twenty acres of mineral land near Almaden and is also interested in mines in Mariposa County, Cal.

Capt. Harper's first marriage on February 22, 1877, united him with Miss Emma Farnsworth, a native of San Jose, a daughter of Thomas and Sarah Farnsworth, whose father removed to California as early as 1852 and farmed at Evergreen. Mrs. Harper was educated in the public schools of San Jose, later attending the State Normal School. Three children were born to Captain and Mrs. Harper; William, a mining engineer employed in Yuma, Ariz.; Marie, deceased in 1917, and Emma, who entered a convent in San Francisco. There are four grandchildren, the children of William Harper—William, Jr., Richard, Emma and Margaret. Mrs. Harper passed away in 1886. The second marriage in 1907 of Captain Harper united him with Mrs. Philomena Glubetich, a native of Dalmatia, her people being pioneers of California in 1870; she passed away October 2, 1921. Politically Captain Harper is a stalwart supporter of the principles of the Republican party. He has a large acquaintance with prominent men of national fame and was a close friend of Senator John P. Jones, George Hearst, Irving and Henry Scott, Mike and Charles De Young, Senators Fair and Stanford and David McKinley; also was a close friend of many eastern men of prominence and national repute. He speaks the Spanish language fluently. Fraternally he is a Mason, Eagle and an Odd Fellow. Looking back on a highly useful life. he is able to review his career with the satisfaction which very properly comes of the knowledge that no taint or blemish has attached to his name, that honor and integrity have characterized all his transcations, that an unselfish spirit has actuated him in his personal dealings with his fellowmen, and that in all ways he has done what he could to make the world a little better as a result of a well-planned and well spent life.

Transcribed cferoben, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 732