Pike County ILTidbits Project


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Cooper, George D.
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Cooper, George D.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 209-212


George D. Cooper is the owner of a fine farm in Pike county and is also extensively and successfully engaged in stock-raising. He is one of the county’s native sons, his birth having occurred in Martinsburg township on the 16th of June, 1858. His paternal great-grandfather, George W. Cooper, is believed to have been a native of Georgia and removed from that state to Tennessee. After a time he changed his residence to Kentucky and finally came to Illinois, settling in Morgan county, but later removed to southwestern Missouri and afterward took up his abode in Macon county, that state, where his remaining days were passed. He was one of the early residents of Illinois and in the agricultural development of the state took a helpful part. A gentleman of deep religious sentiment, he adhered closely to the teachings of the Bible and in early life held membership in the Methodist church, while later he was a firm believer in the doctrines of the Christian church. His political views were in accord with the principles of democracy.

Asa D. Cooper, grandfather of George D. Cooper, was born in Kentucky and was reared in that state and in Tennessee. He came to Illinois in the early ‘30s, making his first settlement in Morgan county, where he remained for several years. He then removed to Pike county and resided in Pittsfield for a time, after which he purchased eighty acres of land in Martinsburg township, upon which there were not improvements.

With characteristic energy, however, he began the development of a farm and after disposing of •that property he and his brother became joint purchasers of one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 14, Martinsburg township, which they improved together. They were associated in their farming interests for some time, but eventually Asa Cooper bought out his brother's interest, continuing to make the place his home until his life's labors were ended in death. In the meantime he had added to his property until he owned two hundred acres of land, the greater part of which was under a high state of cultivation and yielded to him excellent crops, so that he was enabled to add annually to his income. He was a believer in democratic principles hut was without political aspiration for office. He held membership in the Christian church, with which he was long and helpfully identified, taking an active interest in its work. His death occurred in December, 1858, when he was forty-nine years of age. His wife bore the maiden name of Eleanor Goodin and was born in Saline county, Missouri, in 1818, but her death occurred in Pike county, Illinois, in 1855. She was an earnest and faithful member of the Christian church, living in harmony with her professions and her life was filled with many good deeds and gracious acts.

John H. Cooper, son of Asa and Eleanor (Goodin) Cooper, was born where Pittsfield now stands on the 10th of October 1836, and is one of the oldest native citizens of Pike county. He was reared amid the refining influences of a good Christian home and it was the aim of his parents to prepare their children to meet the practical and responsible duties of life and to win respect and confidence through honesty and well doing. He attended the pioneer schools which were sup-ported by subscription and which convened in a primitive log schoolhouse supplied with open fire place, while a writing desk was formed by placing a slab upon pins driven into the wall. The other furniture was equally primitive and the methods of instruction were crude as compared to those of the present day. At that time the teacher "boarded round" among the scholars and his coming was an event in any family, giving an intellectual tone to the household and at the same time probably improving the larder, as the mistress of the home felt that her reputation as a cook and housewife was at stake. It was under such conditions that John H. Cooper acquired his education. He can well remember seeing deer and turkeys in considerable numbers in Pike county during his boyhood. He spent the winter months as a student in the public schools and in the summer seasons worked upon the home farm until eighteen years of age, when he started out in life on his own account, being employed first as a farm hand. When he attained his majority he was married and located upon a rented farm, thus carrying on agricultural pursuits for ten years. The capital which he saved during that period enabled him to purchase one hundred and eighty acres of land in Martinsburg township where he now resides, the so-called "improvements" consisting of a small house and twenty acres under cultivation. With characteristic energy he began placing his fields under cultivation and he erected good buildings and fences. The splendid appearance of the farm at the present time is due to the efforts and energy of John H. Cooper, who has led a busy, useful and practical life and his years of industry have been crowned with success. From time to time as his financial resources permitted he would add other lands to his holdings until he now owns five hundred and seventeen acres constituting a very valuable property. He has carried on farming operations on an extensive scale and he has handled a large number of cattle and other stock. At one time he was extensively engaged in feeding stock and his business interests were carefully controlled and brought to him a most gratifying financial return. In 1875 he built upon his farm a nice residence which he yet occupies.

On the 1st of February 1857, John H. Cooper was united in marriage to Miss Mary Moomaw, who was born October 29, 1839, in Ohio but was reared in Pike county, Illinois, her parents having come to this county in 1843. She was a daughter of Jacob Moomaw, who was born in Virginia in 1796 and when a young man went to Ohio. There he resided and in 1821 was married to Miss Elizabeth Ohmart, whose birth occurred in Virginia, December 16, 1798. She lived to the advanced age of eighty-seven years. Her father was a farmer and on removing to this state made the journey by wagon with a four-horse team, being six weeks upon the road, during which time the family camped out at nightfall by the roadside, traveling only during the hours of the day. At length Mr. Moomaw purchased a farm on section II, Martinsburg township and finally became an extensive agriculturist by reason of his capable management of his business interests during the early days of pioneer development here. He died November 16, 1847. His study of the political issues and questions of the day led him to give his support to the democratic party. He was a member of the German Baptist church and was elected to the ministry and labored earnestly in the cause.

The maternal great-grandfather of George D. Cooper was John Moomaw, a native of Germany who was brought to America by his parents in his infancy, but his mother died on shipboard during the passage. Eventually he became a farmer, living in Virginia for many years, but his death occurred in Ross county, Ohio, at a ripe old age. The maternal grandfather of Mrs. John H. Cooper was Adam Ohmart, who was born in Maryland and was of German parentage. He also was a farmer, devoting his life to general agricultural pursuits. In Pennsylvania he was married, after which he lived for a time in Virginia but made his final settlement in Logan county, Ohio. His wife, Ann Weaver, was born in the Keystone state and was of German lineage, her parents having emigrated to this country from the fatherland. Mr. and Mrs. Ohmart had fifteen children, thirteen of whom reached adult age. The mother lived to an advanced age, dying in the same country as her husband.

Both Mr. and Mrs. John H. Cooper are members of the Christian church, interested in its work and taking an active part in its development and progress. Mr. Cooper is a democrat and was township collector in 1873. He has also served as road commissioner and in all matters of citizen-ship is reliable and trustworthy. His Christian character, intelligent mind and enterprising habits have secured for him a high standing as a farmer and a citizen and won for him the respect of all who know him. Since his retirement from the more active labors of the farm he has spent several winters in Texas, California and Colorado. In the family were four children, all of whom are yet living, and the parents both survive, their home being seven miles south of Pittsfield. George D. Cooper was educated in the common schools and in Pittsfield high school, being thus well equipped for life's practical and responsible duties. He remained at home until twenty-one years of age and then removed to a farm which he purchased of his father in Martinsburg township. He had already become familiar with the best methods of tilling the soil and caring for the crops and when he removed to a farm of his own he brought to his work excellent experience and sound and discriminating judgment, so that as the years passed he prospered in his undertakings. Upon the first farm he remained until 1890, when he bought the property upon which he now lives on section 29, Pittsfield township. Here he owns two hundred and five and a half acres of land constituting a splendid property, in the midst of which stands a fine two-story frame residence. In the rear are many good buildings including a barn and sheds for the shelter of grain and stock. His land is under a high state of cultivation and Mr. Cooper is well known as a stockman and an extensive shipper. He also owns one hundred and thirty-seven and a half acres of land adjoining the home farm which was given him by his father and from which he derives the income, but his father still holds the title to the property.

In July, 1879, occurred the marriage of George D. Cooper and Miss Addie L. Barton, who was born in Montgomery county, Missouri in July, 1862, and was a daughter of M. A. and Mary F. Barton. The parents came to Pike county in 1864, locating in Martinsburg township, where they owned five hundred and fifty-eight acres of land. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Cooper have been born five children. Virgil N., born in 1881, married Grace R. West, by whom he has one son, Lindle. They reside upon a farm in Pittsfield township. Elsie W., born in February, 1883, is living at home. She was educated in the high school of Pittsfield and successfully engaged in teaching school for four years. Julia M. Cooper, born in January, 1885, was educated in the Pittsfield high school and is also at home. Emmett J., born March 24, 1887, was a high-school student in Pittsfield and is yet with his parents. Elma L., born June 10, 1894, completes the family.

Mr. and Mrs. Cooper hold membership in the Christian church and he belongs to Summer Hill camp, No. 1053, M. W. A. He also carries life insurance in the Northwestern Life Insurance Company. He votes with the republican party, but the honors and emoluments of office have had no attraction for him and he has preferred to concentrate his attention and energy upon his busi-ness interests. He has been very successful and now has a fine place. Moreover he is popular, be-ing well liked by all who know him, a fact which indicates that his life has shown those traits of character which everywhere command respect, confidence and good will. He represents one of the oldest pioneer families of Pike county and the name of Cooper has ever been a synonym for business activity and integrity and for good citizenship.

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