Ah, the good old, revoultionary war days. When women were in the kitchen cooking, and the men were out raping and committing several murders every day. Was that just the Harpes? Pardon. The twisted tale of Big and Little Harpe (not their real names and curiously not even the most interesting lie they told) predates the United States and leaves one wondering if it’s true or not.
From what historical records indicate, these stories are true or as accurate as they come. The thing about those Harpe boys is they were smart and able to evade a growing number of enemies by not obeying even the simplest of laws.
War Criminals or Criminals of War?
Micajah “Big” Harpe was actually born Joshua Harpe, not much of a lie. While Wiley “Little” Harpe was given the name William Harpe. This would not be the only time the two men changed their names. It is the time it stuck though.
It is widely believed that when the men were born, their parents live in North Carolina. At the time of their birth, it was not likely the men were brothers at all, rather it is believed they were cousins. In any matter, families that kill together….rape together?
It is believed that The Harpe’s father(s) was loyal to the king. Those pesky Patriots wanting freedom and representation for taxation. Big and Little seemed to follow the family way, including joining a rape gang.
The first sign of trouble was when the rape gang they joined, kicked them out. Read that again. A rape gang thought the brothers were too extreme for them and kicked them out. The brothers were often very violent with the women, and some believea few may have died. There is no hard proof of this, and records on the severity (and alleged number of killings). The blood lust became apparent.
Wives or Victims
While they fought for the crown, the Harpe’s never missed an opportunity to rape and cause chaos. They got more than they bargained for when they tried to kidnap and rape Captain James Wood’s daughter. She was one of four females they had planned on kidnapping and doing who knows what else to.
Wood’s daughter Susan wound up being a “wife” to Big. While another kidnapped woman, Maria Davidson, was Little’s common law wife. There are rumors and legends that the brothers shared the wives, and forced them into situations that they were not interested in, but there is no evidence of this. Given the nature of the boys, it does seem likely.
One theory is that Big had to have Susan because Wiid had earlier denied him the prize, that was not going to happen a second time. It is widely believed Maria was also taken out of a home and coerced into becoming Little’s main lady. They have even tried to add a third wife foe even more sex games but were voted down after just a few short weeks.
A Good Old-Fashioned Murder Break
For a good seven years and maybe up 20 years, there were no murders committed by the twins at least as far as we know. Some might argue they had learned their lesson. The truth was after the war ended loyalists the rebels said they had committed treason.
It didn’t hurt that many people just didn’t like the brothers. Raping and pillaging have a way of making people not liking you.
After the brief hiatus, the murder spree racketed up. Little is said to have killed a crying infant, though whether he or Big was the father. He just complained that the baby crying was getting to him.
Back To The City
During their break, the Harpe’s moved the family to the woods to live off the grid. It was 1897, there couldn’t have been much of a grid in the first place. But with negativity against Loyalist and no love lost for the villainous brothers, it was hunting season.
Many of the people who banded to find the Harpe brothers had family members that were victims of the Harpes. And adding fuel to the hatred fire, Big and Little killed a neighbor who may have been getting too friendly with their wives. Did they even know which one was which?
As they moved closer to a city, the raping and pillaging grew more focused. In fact, most of the neighbors say the Harpe’s fully believe the brothers just killed their victims. It was a good way to keep them quiet, and not stir the pot anymore.
It did not work.
Jail For Christmas
As their newest one family crime wave started sweeping a new city, neighbors were fed up. After a nasty confrontation with a local madame, the town was its wits’ end. A young man had tried to stop the argument from escalating, only to find himself murdered after being alone with Big and Little. That was the tipping point for the town.
Christmas Day 1798, the posse that had been chasing the brothers finally caught up to them. There are a number of theories as to what really happened when they were taken into custody. Prevailing wisdom suggests the wives were pregnant again and the Harpe’s wanted their wives to give birth indoors for once.
Or maybe they were plotting their next crime spree?