George Washington Finley Harper (1834-1921) was born at Fairfield Plantation in Wilkes County, North Carolina to James and Caroline Finley Harper. After graduating from Davidson College, he entered the general merchandise business with his father, a founder of the town of Lenoir. In 1859, Harper married Ella A. Rankin (1836-1909), daughter of Reverend Jessie and Ann Delight Rankin and sister of Emma L. Rankin (1838-1908). They had two children, George Finley Harper and Ellen D. Harper Bernhardt. In 1862, Harper enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in Company H, 58th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to first lieutenant in July 1862, to captain the following September, and to major in the fall of 1863. After the war, Harper rejoined his father in business in the firm of H. Harper & Son. He was also involved in railroad expansion, becoming chair of the Chester and Lenoir Narrow Gauge Railroad Company in 1884. Harper founded the Bank of Lenoir in 1893 and served as its president until his death in 1921.
Additional biographical information is available in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography.