HON. JOHN MILTON COOPER, ex-Mayor of Baxter Springs, a prominent and successful business man, conducting the largest general store in the city and identified with farming and mining interests in Cherokee County, was born December 11, 1841, at Eldara, Pike County, Illinois, and is a son of Isaiah and Elizabeth (Sigsworth) Cooper.
Isaiah Cooper was born June 18, 1817, in Virginia, and in boyhood moved to Pike County, Illinois, where he later became a successful farmer. He married Elizabeth Sigsworth, a daughter of Joseph and Anna (Jorden) Sigsworth, farming people of Pike County, who came originally from England. The children of Isaiah Cooper and wife were: John Milton, of this sketch; Joseph H., of Baxter Springs; Ann Elizabeth, wife of B. F. Townsend, of Santa Anna, California; William Shepherd, of Kansas City; Isaiah Matheny, of Santa Anna, California; George Elliott, of the Indian Territory; Andrew Eugene, of Miami, Indian Territory; Blanche Ellen, wife of Braziller L. Naylor, of Wagner, Indian Territory; Benjamin F., who died at the age of 45 years; and Charles Albert, who is engaged in farming in Kansas.
Isaiah Cooper engaged in a mercantile business at New Salem, Illinois, and prior to 1860 owned and operated a flouring mill, with an output of 100 barrels daily. He was not only an enterprising and successful business man, but he was also a patriotic one. In May, 1862, he enlisted and was made captain of Company K, 99th Reg. Illinois Vol. Inf., and at Black River Bridge, near Vicksburg, he was in a furious engagement with the enemy, and while gallantly leading his command was so wounded that he lost an arm. He was invalided home and later was honorably discharged. After recuperating, Mr. Cooper resumed his farming operations and remained in the vicinity of New Salem until 1867, when he removed to Cherokee County, Kansas. He located some six miles west of Baxter Springs, and also operated a general store in Baxter Springs for a time. He then resumed farming and was so occupied until his death on February 8, 1895. His wife had died on January 16, 1884. Thus passed away two most worthy and esteemed residents of Cherokee County.
John M. Cooper was educated in the public schools of Pike County, Illinois, and completed his school course at the age of 18 years. On May 24, 1861, at the age of 20 years, he enlisted in Company K, 16th Reg., Illinois Vol. Inf., and until he was honorably discharged in 1864 took part in many of the conclusive battles of the war, notably those of Resaca; the fighting along the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad; Island No. 10; Pittsburg Landing and the siege of Corinth. Although he was, with his command, near enough to witness the battle of Chattanooga, they were not engaged in it. The most severe engagement in which he participated was that at Buzzards' Roost, in which 400 men made a gallant charge, capturing the enemy's works, but sustaining a loss of 110 men. Mr. Cooper was with his regiment until the expiration of his term of enlistment and was discharged May 24, 1864, at Springfield, Illinois.
After his return home, he entered a commercial college at St. Louis, from which he received five certificates and a diploma. He next opened a mercantile establishment at New Salem, Illinois, and remained there for two years and subsequently engaged in farming until 1868, when he removed to Baxter Springs, Kansas. he has made this city his permanent home and is here interested in farming, mining, and storekeeping. He is the head of the largest general store in Baxter Springs, carrying a complete stock of large value.
Since 1877 Mr. Cooper has been identified with the mining interests of the county, and was one of the original members of the Galena Mining & Smelting Company, which laid out the town-site of Galena and he was one of the heaviest stockholders. He is now president of the John M. Cooper M. & M. Company, which was organized with a capital stock of $100,000. Mr. Cooper had one of the first stores, if net the first store in Galena situated on Main street, and he still has a store on Main street. The John M. Cooper M. & M. Company owns over 3,000 acres of rich mineral lands, from which a handsome royalty is received.
On September 24, 1868, Mr. Cooper was married to Emily Little, daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Keyes) Little, farming people of Pike County, Illinois. They have had these children: Laura May, Ida Lee, Jessie Milton and John Isaiah. Laura May is the wife of W. E. Price, manager of the Cooper Drug Company, of Joplin, Missouri. They have five children,Herbert Williamson, born September 25, 1893; Earl Cooper, born December 13, 1894, deceased in childhood; Helen, born October 25, 1896, deceased; Jessie June, born July 28, 1898, and Laurence Wallace, born July 31, 1900. Ida Lee married Charles F. Noble, of Baxter Springs, an oil speculator, and has had three children,Clara May, born January 1,1893; John Franklin, born July 14, 1895; and Scott Osborne, born March 2, 1898, who died in infancy. Jessie Milton, born January 22, 1880, and John Isaiah, born August 12, 1889, live at home. Upon this happy family circle fell a crushing bereavement, in the death of Mrs. Cooper, who passed away at Baxter Springs an July 27, 1904. She was a woman of rare character, one who was adored by her family and loved by her friends. She was a ministering angel to those in need and a support of the weak and wavering in her own circle or wherever her gentle influence was needed. In her the Episcopal Church lost a devoted member. She was a charter member of the first lodge of the Order of the Eastern Star, at Baxter Springs.
Mr. Cooper has always been an active Republican. He has been a member of the City Council, and during two terms served the city as mayor. He is president of the Inter-State Reunion Association and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. He is a 32d degree Mason, and an Elk, and formerly belonged to the Knights of Pythias and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. His portrait accompanies this sketch.
History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Lolly Qualls, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 1/27/97.
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