Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Willow Creek, Montana - Pt 2: Frank Oscar Cooper

"Poker Crew- Bill Taylor, Ted Heily,Johnny Jenkins, Frank Black, Frank Cooper,WN Nixon" - 1935 Ron V. Nixon Collection - Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University - Bozeman 
William Cooper > Amos Cooper > Chalkley Jared Cooper > Barton Gourley Cooper > Frank Oscar Cooper

Chalkley "Charley" Cooper, Frank Cooper's grandfather, found most of his children decamp from the Stephenson County, Illinois area and remain in parts west. One exception was Barton Cooper. He did leave Illinois for the untapped prairie of Prairie, Jewell County, Kansas for about eight years in the 1870s/1880s. He and his first wife, Mary's first addition arrived months after the great blizzard of April 1873 and before the holidays, 21 Dec 1873 in the form of Frank Oscar Cooper. In the early 1880s, the Coopers returned to Stephenson County and remained there

Frank moved from Stephenson County to Seward County, Nebraska, where he was found in 1900. Several other of Charley's children had either settled there permanently or had lived there temporarily. In that year, he married his first wife, Anna Diers Dupin, daughter of Joseph W. Dupin and Georgia A. Fairleigh. They had three children before Anna died in 1914. She was buried in Seward.

That year, Frank headed west to Willow Creek, Montana. His brother Theodore also arrived that year (see that story here). A young widow named Anna Matilda Shogren Holden married Frank in 1916. She had one child, Leslie Holden. Between the three children Frank had with Anna Dupin, the five they had together, and Leslie, there were nine kids. Son Jack took over the ranch from his father and continued the ranching legacy which has now reached into its fourth generation.
Jack Cooper
Willow Creek.

According to the family website, the history of the land went like this:
"Recorded as the Silver Brook Farm by the County Clerk on November 28, 1914, the original homestead of 480 acres was settled by Frank Oscar Cooper. He raised farm animals and harvested a large garden before losing the land during the Great Depression. After receiving a Land bank loan for $200/year, Frank repurchased the land. In 1946, his son Jack bought the land and continued to run a general farming operation for several years.
In 1977, after studying Ag-Production at Montana State University, Jack's son Mark returned to Willow Creek permanently to assist with the ranching and farming operations. Mark began actively working with registered cattle as a teenager under the tutelage of his father. He and his wife Cristy now manage the ranch which consists of over 5,000 acres." http://www.cooperherefords.com/
In 1942, daughter Marjorie moved to Vancouver, Washington, where she worked for Kaiser Ship Builders, designing "baby flattops" for the war effort. She then enlisted in the US Navy. She was stationed in Washington, DC, where she drew maps showing where the US fleet was during WWII. Her sister Connie also served as a WAVE for two years.

All nine children have died: Leslie Holden (Anna Shogren's son); Mary Verniece, Howell Raymond "Raymond", and Helen Dorothy (Anna Dupin); Jack Lawrence, Marjorie Lee Jenny, Betty Ann, Clee Scott "Scott", and Constance "Connie," but the legacy of what Frank Oscar Cooper and his children built remains.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Willow Creek, Montana - Part 1: Theodore Lloyd Cooper

Willow Creek Today
William Cooper > Amos Cooper > Chalkley Jared Cooper > Barton Gourley Cooper > Theodore Lloyd Cooper

Theodore was born the sixth of eight children to Barton Gourley Cooper and his first wife, Mary Magdaline Bollinger in Rock Grove, Stephenson County, Illinois. By 1910, Theodore had moved west to Seward, Nebraska where he was a farm hand to the August Brandhorst family.

The Willow Creek, Gallatin County, Montana area had first been mapped by Lewis & Clark in 1805.
It’s considered part of the greater Bozeman area. The stage route also ended up routing through the area in the 1860s. The Northern Pacific Railroad came through Willow Creek in 1887. Theodore arrived in 1914, when the town had a population of about 400 people.  His brother Frank Oscar Cooper bought land there the same year. Electricity arrived in 1918 and some families had telephone service some time later. The downtown included a saloon and a handful of small businesses, including a grocery/meat market, where he was employed. He later purchased the market and operated it as “Cooper’s Market” until 1944, when he retired to his farm.

Cooper married for the first time to at the age of 41 to Effie M. Coursin/Coursan in Silver Bow, Montana on 09 Dec 1925. Their son Ralph Cooper was born in June of the following year. His daughter Ella was born about 1933. The main road through Willow Creek, bringing trade and traffic, was The Yellowstone Trail. In the early 1930s, Highway 10 began construction and bypassed the town in favor of Jefferson Canyon. This hurt the economy of small Willow Creek in the midst of the Depression.  T.L. died in 1957 at a Bozeman hospital and was was buried in Mount Green Cemetery in Willow Creek leaving his wife, children, and four grandchildren. Effie died in 1973 and son Ralph in 1980.

T.L.'s brother Frank became a rancher and next up is a little about the five-generation 5,000 acre ranch just down the road from the little store his brother operated.

Friday, August 14, 2015

CASE SOLVED: Susan L Cooper

Amos Cooper > Chalkley Jared Cooper > Susan L Cooper
Bellingham, WA 1910

I complained recently about how difficult it is to trace women "back in the olden days" because of marriages and the loss of their original identity. In hunting down the children of Chalkley Jared Cooper, this really impacted my work.

Chalkley "Charley" Cooper and his wife Margaret Ann Thompson married in 1840 in Crawford County, Illinois and had nine children. They are, in order:

Capt Robert T Cooper > Emma Brenizer
Mary Ellen Cooper > Jacob M Fisher
Barton Gourley Cooper > (1) Mary Magdaline Bollinger (2) Alice Bollinger
Joseph L Cooper > Carrie L Miles
Margaret Anna "Annie" Cooper > George Emrick 
Amy/Ann Cooper (mystery to be solved)
Susan Lavica Cooper > William May "May" Jones
Chalkley Jared "Jay" Cooper, Jr. > Minnie Janet Kaup
Harlin Cooper (year of birth unknown, died young before 1880)

I found very little to support Susan's existence until I found an obit for Joseph L Cooper. It said he was survived by "a sister, Susie Jones Bellingham of Washington." Hmm. 

Then, I found the Washington Death Records. They list an incorrect first name for her father, but the last name was correct. A person who put a family tree on Ancestry had the wrong first name for her husband which sent me down a road to futility. Doing some tricky backwards detecting, I finally found, and definitely confirmed Susan's story and her later lineage. The gap in information from 1881 to 1899 due to the infamous missing 1890 US Census could be overcome! If she hadn't lived in Washington during those missing years, where was she? She wasn't back home in Stephenson County. Several of her brothers went to Nebraska. Maybe they were close by. 

Susan was born in 1853 in Stephenson County, Illinois. She moved west sometime prior to 1900 when she was both married to W. May Jones and living in Hiawatha, Nebraska. I also found reference they had also lived in Jewell County, Kansas in the 1880s - her brother Barton had also lived there in the late 1870s/early 1880s. They had three children in Jewell: 

Lyman Llewellyn Jones
Edward James Jones
Ira Truman "Casey" Jones

In about 1904, the family arrived in the wild west mining, lumber, fishing/canning town of Bellingham, Washington, where they settled, with the exception of their brief stint in Chilliwack New Westminster, British Columbia. Susan was a piano tuner and lived until 1934, when she died at the age of 81. Her husband May either sold or built sewing machines and farmed during his time in Canada and died prior to Susan on 15 Aug 1931 in Bellingham. Her children survived her. She died 16 Sep 1934.

Ira T. Jones was the fire chief of Bellingham under two administrations and served as assistant chief between political appointments. He retired in 1943. He had a giant cacti collection, which he began selling off in 1943. In 1946, he and his wife bought a beautiful new home. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1970. Ira died in 1978 in Bellingham, and Iona, his Icelandic wife, died in 1990 in Seattle.

Ira named his oldest child Clayton Cooper Jones, further reinforcing the theory that Susan had been found. Ira died in 1978.

I have more items to provide as proof, but will be posting these privately. I'm happy to answer any questions about this research. Fill out the contact form on this page and I'll get back to you!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Race to the Finish: Fred C Monteith & Martin Rector

Andrew Monteith > Edward Boyd Monteith > James Robert Monteith > Fred G Monteith and Martin Rector

The Monteiths were a sprawling family, headed by Scotsman Andrew Monteith and his wife Isabelle Hendry. The family had lived in Penninghame, Wigtownshire, Scotland. They had 11 children, all born in Scotland, and all the surviving children came to the Wisconsin area along with the parents, except oldest child, Mary Ann Monteith McCullough, who moved to the Chicago area with her husband.

Edward Boyd Monteith was a stone mason by trade and was the fourth of Andrew and Isabelle's 11 children. When he came to Platteville, Wisconsin in 1854, he was employed in the building of the State Normal School. He ended up settling on a farm near Liberty, Wisconsin. He and his wife Agnes McCubbin had eight children.
Edward Boyd Monteith

Edward's third child, James Robert and his wife Elizabeth Barger had twelve children. The oldest child, Agnes Mary Monteith married Martin Frederic Rector in 1898 in Preston, Grant County, Wisconsin. They had three boys before 1903, the youngest being only 10 months old at the time of the story. Martin and Agnes farmed near his parents at Spirit Lake, Iowa, having moved there the previous year.

Fred G. Monteith, at age 21, was the middle child of Edward Boyd Monteith. He was a schoolteacher in Grant County and was visiting his sister's family near the east shore of Spirit Lake, Iowa. His visit had lasted 10 days by November 28, 1903. He was scheduled to return to Fennimore, Wisconsin the following Monday.

On the fateful day in question, Martin and Fred had been to town, having been dropped off by the
Okibojiin the Sumertime
Rector's farmhand in the wagon. They told the team's driver, Sam Rettig, if he did not see them along the way back, to go on home. The two dropped their overcoats off at the Schumen's home and stated they would race across East Lake Okiboji by skate and would return to the farm that evening.  At 11 o'clock, Rettig had returned and found the men had not returned. By midnight, Agnes was extremely worried. Rettig notified Martin's father, Dr. A. E. Rector, who along with his brother, the dentist, went to the farm to wait for the dawn so a search could go on.

Fred at about age 15
It didn't take them long, once dawn broke, to find the hole through which both men had fell. Their bodies were discovered immediately and floating side-by-side. They had fallen into water of about 9-feet in depth and gotten their feet stuck in the mud, evidenced by the mud on their skates. Had it not by then been dark and sleeting or had they fallen just a "few rods" in either direction, where the depth and mud would not have been so deep, the outcome might have been completely different.

Martin, the eldest of 10 children, would have been 32 years old the following month. 

Martin's wife Agnes raised her boys and died without remarrying on 23 Aug 1925, at the young age of 49.

Many newswire accounts list the dead incorrectly, naming Fred's brother Llewellyn "Clyde" Monteith as among the dead. The initial article from the Spirit Lake Beacon, on December 4, 1903, listed the dead correctly.

Pioneering Nebraska and the Twister of 1933: Agnes Smith Callander

Jacob Smith > James Smith > William Lawrence Smith > Agnes Smith Callander

You can read about Agnes Smith's parents, William Lawrence and his wife, Agnes Watson and her
Agnes and mother Agnes Watson
difficult pioneer life, here.

Agnes was the oldest of the two Smith children and was born on 07 Jan 1879 in Nebraska. Agnes was not a particularly handsome woman. Fred Callander's family had come to Saline County, Nebraska from Indiana, when Fred was about 13. Fred's father Archibald had emigrated from Scotland and he and Fred's mother Elvira Beebe Jacoby had married in Minnesota in 1859. Agnes and her brother, William Lawrence "Willie" Smith, lived in New Era Precinct, Furnas County, Nebraska after the death of their father. Agnes met Fred Callander and they married on 08 Apr 1897 and as of 1900 resided next door to his parents, Archibald and Elvira Callander.  Her brother, Willie, was a lodger at the home of Archibald and Elvira Callander in 1900.

Tryon, Nebraska 1912
In 1905, the young Callander family, then made up of the couple and three children, moved just down the road to the relatively untouched prairie of near Tryon, Nebraska in the Sandhills, filing on the Kinkaid 640-acre property. According to Fred and Agnes' daughter Mildred, they set about building up their sod house and breaking prairie. Ultimately, the Callander's would have seven children.

McPherson County, Nebraska had a population of just over 2,000 in 1912, the time of this photo of Tryon. According to Nebraska Outback, at one point McPherson County had 20 post offices, five towns and 63 school districts. The trail road in the foreground is now Highway 97. McPherson County is now the third least populous county in Nebraska, with a population just over 500.

Mildred Callander Grabbe described their life in those early days:
"My father had a four-horse team of small horses and a freight wagon used to haul freight of various kinds, mainly I think, food supplies, and taking corn to market and returning with some coal for heating. He hauled freight from Stapleton and from North Platte, many miles on ungraded roads, through valleys and around hills, for both the Mike David and I.C. (Ide) Heldenbrand stores. He would take one day to go, and another to come back. The miles have been shortened much as more modern roads were made. In these little stores they had most anything you would want to maintain that way of life, from food, remedies, pills, liniment, kerosene for the lamps, hardware, dress material by the yard, (or dry goods) sewing notions, hardware, feed and some lumber and fence posts.

In winter it was unbearably cold, so to keep going the long hours the trip would take, he walked many miles alongside the wagon. When he made the trip with snow on the ground, the sound of the wagon wheels made a very weird or eerie sound that could be heard for miles on a cold quiet evening. I remember so well when waiting for him, if after dark, going outside listening in the stillness, and guessing how long yet? It was always a homecoming for we all loved him so much. 
It is hard for today’s generation to imagine, or visualize the “way of life” of so long ago (three quarters of a century). Flour came in 48 pound cloth sacks (the old David Harum brand and the Sioux Lookout brand) I remember, and sugar in 100 pound muslin sacks. These sacks were used for dish towels, or whatever the need. There were very few cereals, a few boxes of Corn Flakes, but mostly long cooking Quaker Oats or ground corn meal for mush. Of course we didn’t get eggs and milk in cartons, but from our own farm. There was no electricity, so no refrigeration, telephone, radio or TV. To keep foods cold they were kept in the water barrel with fresh cool water being pumped by the windmill, and it was kerosene lamps and lanterns that lighted our way.

He also did some carpenter work for others, helping to build barns, and other buildings as progress came. Even when building a sod house, there were doorways, window frames and sometimes floors. There have been many live on a dirt floor till there was money enough to buy the lumber for the floor. 
My father also worked for the U.P.R.R. “Rip-track” for a time, but he had to stay in North Platte away from home, so it was not for long. Then by 1914 and 1915, he and Archie worked planting pine trees at the Halsey Reserve. During the time of planting they rescued some of the smaller culls of Jack, Scotch and Yellow Pine that were being discarded, took them home, planted and nourished them. For many years they were the only pines in the Sandhills and they still stand out, tall, proud and glorious. One spring day 20 or more years later, pushed by high winds, a fire raged through the forest burning many of the trees planted during the years the Callanders worked there. But over the years, our home trees grew very well. Planting at the Forest involved first plowing a furrow over prairie hills and all, then working with a spade pushed into the soft sandy soil, worked back and forth, a tree was inserted and with a firm step pressed closed, it was left to grow."*
The Callanders farmed for many years, raising their seven children and moved into their old age. The work was hard and along the way they experienced their share of tragedy. Oldest son Archibald was drowned at age 31 at Whitewater Lake in western McPherson County, leaving a wife and two small boys. Daughter Ruby and her husband William Cass were killed in an auto accident in 1950.

In May of 1933, Tryon, along with many other towns stretching from Minnesota to Kansas, was struck by a twister, wiping out buildings and the old soddie. Fortunately the family did not experience any loss of life, but Agnes was injured along with 17 neighbors. Other neighbors and friends were not so lucky.

Ann Callander McGiff recalled the fateful day:
"On Monday, May 22, 1933, the old sod house was destroyed by the cyclone that caused so much damage on that fateful evening. On the previous Friday afternoon, on the last day of school when I walked home with little Iola Pyzer, I had no idea that the next time I would see her she would be with younger sister in their Mother’s arms lying in a casket. Along with the other five victims in the mass funeral services held in Miller Chapel. The Harry Pyzer family lived less than a mile north of us."
Mr Pyzer had been in North Platte that day and returned to find only his dog, Nick, and a few hogs remaining alive. His entire family was lost: Willis Bender, 29; Don Bender, 9 months; Iola Pyzer, 7; Mary Evelyn Pyzer, 5; Mrs Dora Pyzer, 25 and Mrs Edna Nelson, 23, were killed. The Benders and Mrs Nelson were visiting there.

Fred died 15 Jan 1944 and Agnes followed him 01 Jul 1962.

Sources: US Census; Find A Grave, and with thanks to *OutbackNebraska, who provided permission to use photos and stories previously published as reference.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sideroad: The Preston Family

Matthew Preston
Jacob Smith > James Smith (and after that, it gets murky)

I find that sometimes, I get distracted when working on a specific line or family. Something outside of the direct line catches my fancy. This would be a case in point.

Matthew PRESTON founded the small town of Preston, Grant County, Wisconsin. He was an early settler there, having arrived from Yorkshire, England in 1851. His first wife, Elizabeth Little, also of Yorkshire, bore him seven children. Two of those boys, James Woodward PRESTON and John Thomas PRESTON, married two Monteith sisters, Martha and Mary Agnes, respectively.

They were daughters of Edward Boyd MONTEITH and feed into my line. EB Monteith's daughter Elizabeth married Jacob Smith, his daughter Jessie married Jacob's brother, Alexander, and his daughter Isabelle married Walter Smith, William Custer Smith's son  (my 2d great grandfather) and nephew to Jacob and Alexander. That's clear now, right?

Young Edwin Wesley Preston
Anyway - back to the PRESTON family. Matthew's first wife died in 1865. He headed back to England and brought back his new bride, Abigail Jane Heseltine, whom he married in 1868. In 1870, the Preston's moved to Platteville, Wisconsin. They too had seven children. Matthew donated 120 acres of land to Platteville for what was then Platteville Normal College what was later known as the University Farm. And this is where I took a major sideroad.

One of their sons, Edwin Wesley Preston, skeedaddled out of the area and little was found on him except the usual documents. He looked, on the surface, to be the least interesting of the set of seven kids of Abigail. How wrong could I be? He was not in the news much, but he was a one of the powerhouses behind what got reported.

He married the former Mabel Peck in 1900. They had no children.

According to a report from the Boston Herald on 20 Dec 1941, his story went a little like this:

Corinthian Club
He graduated from Wisconsin State Teacher's College but he had no interest in teaching; business was more of his forte. He was involved in a number of commercial enterprises in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere, when he came to Boston in 1913. He was connected to a group of New England publishers, representing their newspapers in the national advertising field. In 1915, his work was brought to the attention of James H. Higgins, at that time the publisher of the Herald-Traveler where he began working in their automotive advertising section. Before long, he was the advertising director.

As the Boston Herald-Traveler broadened its success, he became the general manager of the paper in 1927. He continued the success of the publication and it was said he, "disclaimed personal credit, saying it was much more due to those who worked so loyally in co-operation with him."

246 Beacon St Boston
His home in Boston was located at 246 Beacon Street a block from the Charles River. They had three servants to run the large brownstone. Edwin was a member of Boston's Algonquin Club, which was founded in 1886 by individuals who valued "accomplishment over inherited status." He was also a member of the Corinthian Yacht Club and other clubs throughout Boston.

From 1929 to 1937, he took several trips to Europe and more tropical locations aboard passenger liners. He also spent time in Florida, a warm alternative to California. Sometimes with his wife, and after her death in 1935, with other family members. Sometime around the time of Mabel's death, his niece, Ruth Tiffany, came to Boston and looked after her uncle and ran his household. I'm hoping to learn more on Ruth's life in Boston soon.

In 1940, he was forced by ill health to give up the active reigns of the Herald Traveler. He moved to Beverly Hills, California, where he died 19 Dec 1941. He died a very wealthy man and I believe a chunk of it ended up going to Ruth Tiffany. Look for a coming post that will discuss the Tiffany's of Hollister, California.