Two Roper and Little Families’ Heroes

L. David Roper,
23 July, 2017

We hear a lot about “Heroes” these days, some real and some fantastic. Real heroes are usually made by their responses to unusual circumstances.

I want to talk about two men I regard as Heroes in my Roper and Little families.

Moses Roper

Moses Roper is a distant relative of mine; if the genealogy I have is correct, he is my 2nd cousin 3 generations removed. Moses was probably born in 1810 in Caswell County North Carolina just below Pittsylvania County Virginia and died 15 April 1891 in Boston Massachusetts. His parents were Henry H. Roper, born 1788 in Caswell County and died before July 1845 in Caswell County, and Nancy, Henry’s slave. Nancy was of mixed ethnic ancestry, African and Native American. Moses had “very white” skin and “curly and wooly” hair and eventually grew to a height of 6’7”. You can read about him in his book “Narrative of My Escape from Slavery” available on, including Kindle.

In his book Moses describes his approximately 16 attempts to escape slavery, including terrible tortures he experienced when captured. Abolitionists in New England helped him escape to England. He traveled over Britain giving hundreds of talks about his experiences as a slave.

He married Ann Stephen Price on 21 December 1839 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. They had four daughters in Canada.

After several years trying to communicate with members of his family, I finally heard from one of his 2nd-great-granddaughters living in New Zealand. On 7th of August this year I will have the privilege of hosting for a day one of his 3rd-great-granddaughters as she visits the USA.

Daniel Little

Daniel Little, born 27 June 1846 in Union County Georgia and died 31 May 1929 in Christian County Missouri, is my great-grandfather. Since I was born in 1935 I never had the privilege of knowing him. But, I heard much about him; especially that he was a kind man. His first wife and my great-grandmother was Mary Bruce, born 14 December 1849 in Union County Georgia and died 25 March 1917 in Roosevelt County New Mexico.

Daniel was almost 15 years old when the Civil War started on 12 April 1861. Either on his own or by urging of his parents, Lewis Little and Catherine Mariah Odom, Daniel went north to join the Army of the Cumberland of the Union Army. I like to think that he did it because he opposed slavery.

“It is estimated that at least 100,000 Union soldiers were boys under 15 years old and about 20 percent of all Civil War soldiers were under 18. Since soldiers had to be at least 18 years old to enlist in the military, many of these boys lied about their age in order to join. Other times, especially as the casualties climbed and more soldiers were needed, recruiters looked the other way when underage boys signed up.” (

When the war was over, Daniel decided to return home to Union County on the northern border of Georgia. I heard my Aunt Allie Martha Roper, the oldest of 12 children of Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little Roper who was Daniel’s daughter, tell that Daniel was sleeping under the stars the night before arriving in Georgia wondering with trepidation about how he would be received by his family and neighbors when he got to Georgia. He had a premonition that all would be well just before he dozed off. And, apparently, that was the case.

Another great-grandfather of mine, William Washington Roper, a southwestern North Carolinian, was in the CSA Army. The only story I have about his service was that, because his horse saved his life in battle, he was allowed to take the horse home with him. I have his hand-made leather awl that has this carved on the end of the handle: