Mad as a Hatter?

Time for some March Madness!

Since the NCAA Basketball Tournament has started and this week began with St. Patrick’s Day, I have been thinking of my Irish Heritage.

What does my Irish heritage have to do with March madness?

One of my Irish ancestors was a hatter.

Absalom Leeper - Mount Pleasant Iowa - Preacher - Christian Church - Pioneer Preacher - Mad as a Hatter - Hat Maker - Trenton, IowaThis is my 4th Great-Grandfather Absalom Leeper.

Absalom was a preacher in the Christian Church, a farmer and also a Hatter when he was younger.

Luckily he did not work long as a hatter and did not have the long term effects of Mercury poisoning that was common with the profession. He was not a Mad Hatter.

Absalom was born in Pennsylvania in about 1798 and moved to Ohio when he was young. It was in Ohio where he worked as a hatter and met and married Mary Thomas.

1850 Census - Henry County, Iowa - Trenton - 1850 CensusSometime between 1833 and 1840 Absalom and Mary moved to Henry County, Iowa with their four oldest children. The fifth child was born in Iowa and Absalom was also in the 1840 Territorial Census.

1850 Census - Absalom Leeper - Henry County, Iowa - Trenton, Iowa - GenealogyIn the 1850 Census Absalom Leeper is in Trenton, Iowa and is listed as a Farmer. He is listed with his wife Mary and four of his children. His oldest daughter Sarah married in 1846 and lived close by with her husband and daughter.

Trenton, Iowa - Absalom Leeper House - Old House - Early SettlerHere is a picture of the house where Absalom Leeper lived in Trenton, Iowa. The house is no longer standing, but I am glad that we have this picture for a memory.

Absalom Leeper Tombstone - 106 years old - Early Pioneer - Henry County, IowaMany years ago I took a picture of  Absalom’s tombstone in the Greenmound Cemetery in Henry County, Iowa.

The tombstone states that he died on August 24, 1896 at the age of 106 years.

I am not sure where the age comes from, unless someone transposed the last two digits of his year of birth.

All of the Census records that I have found show that he was born circa 1798-1800. Also, his parents married in 1795.

If the death date on the stone is correct, he would have been about 98 years old when he died.


p.s. If you are researching Absalom Leeper or the Leeper family, please make sure you leave me a message. I would be glad to share additional information.




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21 Responses to Mad as a Hatter?

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  7. Jean says:

    So from which line do you descend from? My husband comes from Lovisa Leeper’s line — Absalom’s youngest daughter who married twice and died young. We have been back to Trenton, Iowa in 2003 and was delighted to see the photo of the Leeper house. What else do you know about Absalom? I’d be delighted to share what we have.

    • vanbraman says:

      Jean, I descend from William Absalom who was the 2nd son. I wish I knew more about Absalom, especially about the church he ministered for. I know so little.

      • Pat Burch says:

        According to the newspaper article in the South Bend Indiana Daily News it says it was the Campbellite Church.

  8. Marcy Crist says:

    I’m a descendant of Absalom’s daughter, Tabitha.

  9. Ruth Clayton-Davis says:

    He is also my 4th great grandfather through his daughter Tabitha. I’m so glad I found this as I, too, am confused by the age issue.

    • Pat Burch says:

      Amazing what you find out there….the handwriting under the Leeper family house picture is my mother’s so someone who was tracing the history had communication with my mother. I may have the original picture but will need to dig. In the article about his life in the Daily Times of South Bend Indiana there is an explanation of the age and how the 108 is probably wrong. “A nephew reports he visited his uncle in Trenton several times and was given this info from his “lips”. His parents were married in about 1795 his father being about 22 years of age. and his mother was born 7/7/1776. Therefore it is more probable that my uncle was born in 1798 than in 1788 and that he was 98 instead of 108 at the time of his death. I make this statement in the interest of truth even though it spoils a good story. About 40 years ago the family residence near Osnaburg, stark Co, Ohio was destroyed by fire, in which the mother lost her life and the family records were consumed. I have a copy of the original newspaper story if you are interested.
      Did you also know that he also died in a river accident when he was running a ferry across the St Joseph river in South Bend?

  10. Pat Burch says:

    That is almost died in the river accident…sorry should have read the post closer.

  11. Ruth Clayton-Davis says:

    Have any of you pursued membership in the Sons of the American Revolution or DAR? My son is career military and would like to apply to Sons. I know it’s much easier if we can find a relative who has done it.

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  14. Katelin Hunt says:

    This is so bizarre lol I currently live in Trenton, I literally thought I was related to everyone that went to Greenmound. (I’m a Roth, Graber, Zhilman descendent) I’m going to do some looking into stuff! That is odd about the age. I might have a similar photo!

  15. Cody Leeper says:

    My name is Cody Leeper the son of Gail Irene Leeper. When you follow my grandfather Lloyd Leeper’s family back using the father links with the website below it shows how I’m kin to Absalom Leeper. In an effort to learn more about my family, if any Leepers out there that are curious please email me at Maybe an opportunity to connect with a side of the family I we never met. It seems there is much history to share with my daughter. Thank you to whomever started this research.



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