Know as Micajah (big Harpe) and Wiley (Little Harpe).The pair of thieves, rapist, kidnappers, and murderers were likely not brothers at all ,though legend records them as such. Hailing from the western mountains of North Carolina , they were likely cousins who fled to the region of the Ohio valley after their Loyalist leanings during the American Revolutionary War and their crimes in the yadkin valley made them fugitives. They were among the first Americans to become the subjects of organized searches by armed groups of vigilantes, eluding them by fleeing from one territory to the next, a trail of victims in their wake. Kentucky what is now West Virginia,Ohio,lndiana,Illinois, and Tennessee were all sites of their criminal activities, and at least three dozen murders have been attributed to the pair . There were likely many more
Their story is one of the dangers of the opening of the west in the days following the end of the Revolutionary War. It is permeated with river Pirates, highwaymen,murders,blamed on Indians, fur trappers and hunters vanishing forever in the unexplored American west. They may been brothers born to North Carolina settlers. They may have been legally married to women they identified as their wives , or they may have presented the victims of kidnappings as their spouses as they traveled the Ohio and its tributaries. Or they may done both. Separating the myth from the reality is difficult, though the brothers were discribed by many along the Americans frontier , criminals ,legal authorities, and community leaders all left behind tales of their crimes and travels. Here are tales of the Harpe Brothers, verified through the extend records, though in some cases the records themselves are of a questionable nature.
For a time , the Harpe Brothers and their horrendous murder spree remaind a subject of lore along the American frontier, though other stories gradually displaced [login to view URL] 1809 , Meriwether Lewis died under extremely mysterious circumstances at a stand on the Natchez trace just a short distances from where Wiley Harpe skull remained on grisly display. Daniel Webster found both Harpe Brothers on the hostile jury he encountered in short [login to view URL] devil and Daniel websiters thought not in the original version written by Stephen Vincent Benet and published in 1836. They had to wait until the 1941 film version to make their appearance. They also appeared as relatively harmless, almost oafish clowns in Disney’s Davy Crockett and river Pirates.
In truth, they were neither oafish nor easily defeated, and the trail of murders is no less horrifying despite the passage of time since they were committed. The frontier which they terrorized was a dangerous place to be sure, but neither does that lessen the depravity of their lives of robbery,rape and [login to view URL] Harpe Brothers are the lead character in one of America’s oldest true horror stories , and the tales of their depravity rival any of the most vicious characters of fact or fiction in the annals of any nation.