Biography of Charles Ladue Cooper
By Beatrice Edmondson
Thomas Jefferson Cooper and Mary Elizabeth Washburn were married at Red Wing, Minnesota. They had two children, Charles Ladue born June 29, 1858 and Julia Leila born in September 20, 1860. Both were born at Red Wing in Goodhue County, Minnesota.
Mr. T. J. Cooper was a hardware merchant at Red Wing for many years. From Red Wing he took his family west to Denver, Colorado. On this journey, T. J. Cooper was the spokesman for the train. Upon reaching a river valley they planned to descend and camp at the valley bottom for the night. However, by the intuition of Mr. Cooper, who had talked much with the sly Indian chief who advised them to descend, they camped on the plain. Both the train that went before this one, and the one following were massacred. Their train passed through safely. This incident happened when Charles was still a young boy.
From Denver, The Coopers moved to Helena, Montana where they stayed only a short time. At St. Joe, Missouri, Charles received his schooling until he entered high school. Then the family moved to Chicago in 1871 after the great fire swept over practically the whole city. Here he attended the Bryant and Stratton Business College.
About 1879 there was a mining rush to Leadville, Colorado. Charles, accompanied by his father, left for the mining district, leaving his mother and sister in Chicago. At Leadville they were joined by Charles' uncle Rollin Cooper who drove one of the six mule teams used in hauling freight from the end of the railroad to Leadville.
Mr. T. J. Cooper and Charles were suddenly called back to Chicago because of the illness of his mother. Charles stayed with his mother until her death in 1880. In the same year T. J. Cooper and Rollin Cooper sold their interests in Leadville, cleaning up what was then considered a large fortune.
In the fall of 1880, Charles, his father and Rollin Cooper came to North Dakota in search of farm lands. They located in what is now known as Griggs County. They bought railroad lands, secured some soldiers script for some more, took preemptions, homesteads, and tree claims for themselves and others. So all together they controlled about two townships of land which was at that time known as the Cooper Brothers' land.
In late winter or very early spring, T. J., Rollin and Charles Cooer went to St. Louis for five carloads of mules. Charles and some other men had charge of these mules, and when they reached Tower City they were delayed for two days by a severe blizzard. They had to board up the box cars with canvas and boards to keep the cold and wind off the mules, unaccustomed to the severe cold. T. J. Cooper and his brother, Rollin, had gone ahead of the freight on to Sanborn where they waited for Charles. Everything had to be hauled from Sanborn to the farm in 1880. Things were hauled to the half-way house near Walum.
Millard Washburn (brother of Mrs. T. J. Cooper) and Bill Murdock did the teaming from the half-way house to the ranch or homestead of Thos. J. Cooper which belongs to his brother Charles at the present writing.
During the cold winter Charles became snowblind and was forced to stay in a dark room for many days in order to recover his eyesight.
When the snow melted in the spring, the snow road was several feet above the prairie. When it came time for field work, Millard Washburn and Chas. Cooper located in Washburn Township 146-58 where they owned and worked about four sections. The first year they lived in a tent until a suitable frame house had been erected. Al Wonderlick was their first one who proved most successful in the domestic science. However, later Dr. and Mrs. Kerr came to live with them. She took on the household responsibilities. Their nearest neighbor was George Barnard and family.
All the wood they used was taken from the Sheyenne River, Section 34.
On July 2, 1883 Millard Washburn married Mary M. Husel. Her sister Laura, who came out for the wedding, married Charles the following year in October 22, 1884. Upon taking Millard Washburn and his bride to catch the train from Sanborn that night, an accident befell the bridal party. The road that ran along the slough near Sanborn had been somewhat elevated and a turn had been made in it. The night was very dark and Charles had just gotten through saying, "If I didn't know this road so well, I'd stop right here." All of a sudden there was a crash! Bang! One mule was down, hats, coats, suitcases and boxes were flying everywhere. However, they finally reached Sanborn, but during the night someone had put up a railing to ward off further accidents.
The first winter Charles and his wife lived on the old R. C. Cooper homestead. The following spring they lived on the Washburn Cooper farm until the seeding was done. Then they moved to Cooperstown where Mr. Cooper had charge of the old Cooper Brothers round elevator. Then, there were only two elevators, the Cargill run by George N. Stark and the Cooper elevator. Teams from all directions came for many miles, hauling load after load of wheat to Cooperstown. Sometimes as many as 25 teams would be waiting to be unloaded. All wheat had to be sacked at that time; so it had to be dumped by hand. It kept one busy weighing figuring dockage, (No percent system then) making out checks and loading cars.
Then T. J. Cooper called his son west to install the machinery and hoist in a mine he had bought. Charles had charge of this mine for five years, after which he moved to Victor, Colorado in the Cripple Creek district. Here he was engineer of another hoisting engine for about ten years. During this time he prospected some for himself. He lived in Victor during two strikes, known as the Cripple Creek War. The state militia was clled out to guard property. His mine, like many others, was closed. During the first strike, Charles Cooper, being classed as one of the mine owners, was ordered or asked by the leaders of the union miners to leave camp, which he did without protest. There were many of the old Coeur d'Alene miners in the camp who proved to be desperate characters.
Leaving Victor they went to California for a year. From California they returned to North Dakota's prairie lands. Five years Chas. Cooper farmed successfully although he had little know ledge of agriculture.
After these five years of strenuous farm labor, which caused the breakdown of Mr. Cooper, they rented their farm and took up residence in Cooperstown not far from their farm where at the time of this writing they are now living.