T. J. Cooper


T. J. Cooper from Compendium of North Dakota

T. J. Cooper, now retired from active labors, is the possessor of extensive farm lands in the vicinity of Cooperstown, end makes his home in that city amid pleasant surroundings that are the result of a well-spent career. He was one of the pioneers of that region, and was associated with his brother many years in business enterprises, but for the past ten or twelve years has conducted his business alone, and is enjoying his declining years in retirement, although he personally oversees his land interests.

Our subject was born in Vermont, September 3, 1830, end was a son of Thomas and Caroline (Baker) Cooper. His father was a native of Vermont, and was a farmer by occupation, and was one of the pioneer settlers of Michigan, where he removed with his family when our subject was but two years of age. They resided there for a number of years, and then located in Minnesota.

T. J. Cooper was the third in a family of eleven children, and was reared in Michigan, and later engaged in farming in Minnesota. He went from there to Colorado and followed mining a number of years in company with his brother, R. C. Cooper, and they continued in business together till 1889, when the partnership was dissolved. Our subject was two thousand acres of land in the vicinity of Coopers-!:. our., on which ho has valuable improvements.

Our subject was married in Red Minnesota, in 1858, to Miss Mary Washburn, a native of Illinois. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, as follows: Charles L., now a mining engineer of Victor, Colorado; and Julia. L., now Mrs. Merriell, of Fruita, Colorado. Her husband is engaged in fruit growing and lumbering. Mr. Cooper is a member of the Masonic Fraternity. He is a Republican in political sentiment, and is a man who keeps pace with the times, but does not seek public preferment.

T. J. Cooper

Thomas Jefferson Cooper was born near Shoreham, Vermont, September 8, 1830 and was a son of Thomas and Caroline (Baker) Cooper. His father was a native of Vermont and was one of the settlers near Hiles, Lima Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan where he moved with his family when Thomas Cooper was two years old.

T. J. Cooper was the third in a family of ten children. Leaving home when merely a lad, to make his own way, Thomas Cooper went to Red Wing, Minnesota, where in 1887 he was united in marriage to Mary K. Washburn a native of Illinois. Two children were born of this union, namely Charles Ladue and Julia Lolle, now Mrs. W. A. Merriell).

For a few years, T. J. Cooper was a hardware merchant at Red Wing, Minnesota. In 1860 the California gold fever was at its height and Mr. Cooper with his family and many others started for the Pikes Peak region, as Colorado was known at that time. On this westward journey, T. J. Cooper was the spokesman for the overland covered wagon train. Upon reaching a river valley out in the plains, they planned to descend and spend the night in a coulee. However, by the intuition of T. J. Cooper, who had conversed and watched the movements of an Indian chief, who advised them to descend, they camped on a bluff. This wagon train went safely there, but the train before and the train following theirs were massacred.

In Colorado, T. J. Cooper's mining was both gulch and quartz in the vicinity of Fairplay, Colorado and Alma, Colorado and the tale of his "ups and downs" rival those of the Argonauts in '49. He was a partner of squire Jo Jones of Independence, Missouri, who as a miner was known by every prospector from Colorado to the Pacific. He made no great stake at this time and to better his fortunes in '64 and '65 during the great Indian war on the Platte River in partnership with Louis F. Bartels, a merchant in Denver, Colorado, followed freighting to the plains from St. Joe, Missouri to what is now Denver, Colorado. 1866 found the adventurous miner back in the gulch mines near Helena, Montana. After a few years in the hardware business at St. Joe, Missouri and with his profits ventured in the cattle business on the plains of Colorado. After accumulating a small fortune he went to Chicago shortly after the great fire had swept practically the whole city.

In 1878 there was a mining rush to Leadville, Colorado. T. J. Cooper was one of the pioneer in the Leadville mining boom. Together with John Farwell and others of Chicago he developed several mines, including the Little Chief mine, which they later sold. T. J. Cooper's profit in this venture was $150,000.

In company with J. V. Farwell, H. Oviatt and others of Chicago, T. J. Cooper went to Idago in 1879 and purchased the Mayflower mi ne near ______, Idaho, which was worked for many seasons with good results.

In the spring of 1880, T. J. Cooper and his brother, Rollin C. Cooper, came to Dakota Territory and purchased many thousands of acres of land in what is now Griggs County. They founded and platted the town of Cooperstown, the county seat of Griggs County. After some years, T. J. Cooper moved to Chicago but retained his interests in Griggs County.

In 1887-1888 he left Chicago and with his son Charles and his son-in-law, Wallace A. Merriell, again returned to mining in Colorado. After a few years he followed mining in the Alaskan gold fields for many seasons.

T. J. Cooper died (following an accident on a hunting trip) at the home of his daughter Mrs. W. A. Merriell in Fruita, Mesa County, Colorado Jan xx, 190. Mr. Coopers remains were interred in the family lot in Chicago.

His descendants are his son, Charles Ladue Cooper, of Cooperstown; a daughter Mrs. W. A. Merriell of Fruita, Colorado and a grandson, Frank O. Cooper Merriell an engineer in the Reclamation service at Grand Junction, Colorado.

Courier Feb 2, 1905

Death of a pioneer, T. J. Cooper at Fruita, Colorado after several weeks illness,

Born at Shoreham, Vermont, Sept. 3, 1830 and was 74 years old. His parents moved to Michigan when he was two years old, remaining there a few years and then moved to Minnesota. T. J. Cooper came to Griggs County in the summer of 1880 with his brother, Rollin C. and the big Cooper farm was opened up, the first crop being taken off in 1880. The deceased was a man of strong physique. Speaking of his last illness, Mrs. George W. Barnard in a letter says, "It began with a serious accident when on his annual hunting trip in the hills out from Grand Junction and Fruita. His horse threw him and it is believed some serious internal injury occurred. Typhoid fever set in. Three weeks ago he was a little better so that his son Charles was able to shave him. He then thought he could recover, so dictated a letter to his brother Rollin, saying, "Well, brother Rollin, it looks now as though we might have one more chicken hunt together. Get well and keep well, and don't run into smallpox down in Mexico".


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