Season 7 of Outlander promises to plunge Jamie and Claire Fraser into the turmoil of the American Revolutionary War as the foothills of North Carolina erupt into bloody violence.

The action in recent seasons has been centred on their land at Fraser’s Ridge, similar to many communities established by Scots who left the Highlands during the Clearances and after the Jacobite Risings.

They included Micajah ‘Big’ Harpe and Wiley ‘Little’ Harpe who murdered as many as 50 people during a bloodthirsty reign of terror in the late 18th century.

They are remembered as America’s first serial killers… and they began their lives of crime in Outlander country just a few miles from Fraser’s Ridge.

Records from that era are sketchy, but one of the best and earliest accounts is from T Marshall Smith, whose Legends of the War of Independence, and of the Earlier Settlements in the West was published in 1855.

He says the Harpes were cousins and the sons of Scottish expats and originally named William and Joshua Harper. Other accounts describe them as brothers born in Scotland.

Smith, however, offers a description of them in about 1775 and says ‘Big’ Harpe was then around 20 years old, “very stout, surpassingly strong and active”

He said it was impossible to look on them “without being disagreeably and disgustingly impressed with the bull-dog head and face of the former, and the sly lynx or hyena appearance of the head and face of the latter, now about 18 years old”.

Smith goes on to recount how the Tories, or the royalists, fighting on the side of the British, were responsible for “murder, robbery, theft and pillage” against the Whigs, or the patriots.

He writes: “William, or big Bill Harpe, and Joshua Harpe, with hosts of McDermots, Gleasons, Glutsons, Ernests, Turners, Mc- Donnoughs, Midriffs, Campbells, and many others whose names need not be mentioned — all thieves, murderers and robbers, who seized upon every possible occasion for the gratification of their vile propensities, regardless of time, place, age, sex, or color.”

His book is based on an eyewitness accounts from Colonel John Davidson and Captain James Wood of the Continental Army in North Carolina.

The Harpes would eventually murder Capt. Wood and kidnap the daughters of both men, Maria Davidson and Susan Wood, before joining with a band of renegade Cherokee Native Americans roaming west of the Appalachian mountains.

The war officially ended in 1783 but the turmoil lasted until well into the 1790s, when the Harpes began a murder spree through Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois.

Their victims during this period numbered between 39 and 50, including the wife and infant son of settler Moses Stegall who organised the posse that eventually caught up with Micajah ‘Big’ Harpe in 1799, with Stegall himself cutting off his head.

Wiley ‘Little’ Harpe remained on the run with a gang of pirates at Cave-In-Rock on the Ohio River until he was eventually caught and executed 1804.


By Damyan Ivanov

My name is Damyan Ivanov and i was born in 1998 in Varna, Bulgaria. Graduated high school in 2016 and since then i'm working on wordpress news websites.