Lecky Harper was one of the outstanding journalists of the 19th century, and he lived the last half of his life in Mount Vernon, Ohio. He was born in Ireland in 1815, the son of Hugh and Catharine (Long) Harper. The family migrated to the United States when Lecky was five years old. After the father's sudden death, the Harper family moved to Ohio in 1926. Lecky's early education was in the country schools of Jefferson County.
He developed an early interest in journalism and history, and he worked for newspapers in Steubenville, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Lecky also studied law and was admitted to the bar. In 1844 he married Eliza A. Mercer. The Harpers had nine children.
In 1853 Lecky purchased the Knox County Democratic Banner and the family moved to Mount Vernon.