Biography - Robert Cooper

DEACON ROBERT R. COOPER. Sixty-eight years have come and gone since Robert R. Cooper located in Illinois and this covers the greater part of the period of the progress and development of the state, so that Mr. Cooper may well be classed with the pioneer residents, living to see the forests and the swamp give way before the cultivation of the husbandman, who has transformed the wild tracts of land into richly cultivated fields. Mr. Cooper was closely associated with agricultural interests in Greene and Macoupin counties and now having acquired a handsome competence he is living a retired life.
Kentucky has furnished many worthy citizens to Illinois and among this number is Robert R. Cooper, whose birth occurred in Christian county of the former state on the 22d of January, 1828. His father, Judge E. L. Cooper, was born in Virginia, September 24, 1799, and was there reared. He removed to Kentucky, locating in Christian county and there he opened up a farm, clearing a tract of land and making it a very productive place. He was married in Christian county to Miss Mary M. Perry, whose birth occurred in Virginia, August 28, 1793. The young couple began their domestic life in Kentucky but in 1836 came to Illinois, settling in Greene county, where Mr. Cooper purchased a farm. Later he entered and bought other land until he became the owner of more than four hundred acres, all in one body near Wrightsville. Upon that place he reared his family, continuing there until about 1856, when he removed to Greenfield. Later he lived in the country with a widowed daughter, Mrs. E. E. Cunningham, but in 1893 returned to Greenfield, where he resided until his death in 1900, when he had reached the very venerable age of one hundred years and six months lacking two days. His wife had died about twelve years prior to his death and although she was not a centenarian she was almost ninety-four years of age at the time of her demise. Mr. Cooper was one of the prominent men of his locality and he served in various positions of honor and trust, wielding a wide influence in public affairs and at the same time assisting in the material development of his county. His family numbered four sons and two daughters, all of whom reached years of maturity, while three are still living. The eldest, Mildred, became the wife of Clark Stephens and is now deceased; W. T. died on the old homestead; Robert R. is the third of the family; Emeline E. became the wife of Samuel M. Cunningham, and the mother of George W. Cunningham, who is represented elsewhere in this work; Edmund M. is living in Girard, Illinois; and Adrian A. died in Kansas City, Missouri.
Robert R. Cooper was reared upon the old family homestead and in his youth received but meager school privileges, so that the knowledge that has made him a well informed man has been largely acquired since he attained adult age. He remained with his father until he had reached his majority and during that period received ample training in farm labor. Following his marriage he began farming on his own account in Greene county and after three or four years he removed to Macoupin county, where he purchased a farm of three hundred and twenty acres. This he cultivated and improved, erecting thereon good buildings and he developed a valuable property. In all of his farm labors he was progressive, continuing his active farming operations until 1898. He likewise engages in the raising and feeding of stock and was classed with the well-to-do agriculturists of his community. He was one of the promoters of two railroads in the county and has been deeply interested in all that has pertained to its material upbuilding. He continued to reside upon his farm until 1898, when he rented the property and removed to Greenfield, where he purchased the residence he now occupies.
In 1850 Mr. Cooper was united in marriage to Miss Nancy A. Parks and they traveled life's journey together until 1868, when Mrs. Cooper was called to her final rest. There were seven children by that marriage, of whom two are living: Henry E., a resident farmer of Greene county; and Adrian E., who is living upon the old family homestead. For his second wife Deacon Cooper chose Elizabeth Ridings and they had two children, of whom one is yet living: Frank, a resident farmer of Macoupin County. The wife and mother died in 1871, in Macoupin county. Mr. Cooper was again married, having in 1871 wedded Mary J. Bacon, a native of Tennessee, who was brought to Illinois during her girlhood days and was reared in Macoupin county. There are six children by this marriage: Dora, the wife of John a. Ross, of Hettick, Illinois; Fred and Edgar, who are resident farmers of Macoupin county; Charles L., who is living in Virden, Illinois; Hattie, the wife of George W. Shane, a farmer of Macoupin county; and Pearl, a young lady at home.
Politically Mr. Cooper was originally an old line Whig, casting his first presidential ballot for General Winfield Scott in 1852. His first Republican vote supported Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and he has since voted for each Republican presidential nominee. He is deeply interested in the cause of public education and he has served for a number of years on the school board and as school director and has also been township trustee. He belongs to the Baptist church, has filled various church offices and for some years has been a deacon. Residing continuously in Illinois from 1836 there is little that concerns its material progress and improvement that is unknown to him, his knowledge coming not as a matter of history, but because he has witnessed the events that have shaped its policy and molded its destiny. He has lived the quiet honorable life of the farmer, taking from the soil the competence which many men win through the labors of others and by his straightforward career gained the good will, trust and high regard of those with whom he has been associated.

Extracted by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Greene County, Illinois, by Ed Miner, published in 1905, pages 528-530.

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