Mark Anthony Cooper1

Male, #45839, (20 Apr 1800 - 17 Mar 1885)
Father*Thomas Cooper Jr.1 (1771 - 5 Jul 1843)
Mother*Judith Harvey1 (s 1775 - )
Birth*20 Apr 1800 He was born on 20 Apr 1800 at Hancock Co., Georgia.1 
Marriage*23 Aug 1821 He married Mary Evaline Flournoy on 23 Aug 1821 at age 21.2 
Death of Spouse1 Dec 1821 His wife Mary Evaline Flournoy died on 1 Dec 1821 at Eatonton, Putnam Co., Georgia.3 
Marriage*6 Jan 1826 He married Sophronia A. R. Randle on 6 Jan 1826 at age 25.1,4 
Will13 Jul 1829 He attested to the validity of William Flournoy's will on 13 Jul 1829 at Putnam Co., Georgia.5 
Probate13 Jun 1831 He witnessed the probate of the estate of William Flournoy on 13 Jun 1831 at Putnam Co., Georgia.5 
Letter at PO*14 Apr 1835 He had a letter at the Post Office on 14 Apr 1835 at Putnam Co., Georgia, (also on 14 Jul 1835 and 19 Jan 1836.)6 
Indian Wars*1836 He served in one of the Creek and Seminole Indian Wars in 1836
(Major in Second Seminole Indian War. See his Biography for further details.)7 
Will29 May 1843 In Thomas Cooper Jr.'s will, Mark, Samuel and Eugenius was named by Thomas to handle his estate on 29 May 1843.8 
Death of Father5 Jul 1843 His father Thomas Cooper Jr. died on 5 Jul 1843 at Putnam Co., Georgia.9 
Will28 Apr 1848 Narcissa, Francis, Samuel and Mark named as executor(s) in the will of Dr. Samuel Boykin at Muscogee Co., Georgia, on 28 Apr 1848.10 
Death*17 Mar 1885 He died at Etowah, Bartow Co., Georgia, on 17 Mar 1885 at age 84.1 
Biography* COOPER, MARK ANTHONY. Lawyer, politician, businessman. Born Hancock County, Ga., 20 April 1800; died Bartow County, Ga., 17 March 1885. Son of Thomas and Judith Harvey Cooper. Married Mary Evaline Flournoy, 23 August 1821. Children: none. Married Sophronia A. R. Randle, 12 January 1826. Children: Thomas L., John Frederick, Mark Eugene, Volumnia A., Rosa L., and at least five others. Education: Mount Zion Academy and Powellton Academy (both in Hancock County); University of Georgia; South Carolina College, A.B. (1819).
     Mark Cooper was born into a prominent Hancock County family that had migrated to Georgia from Virginia. After graduation from college he moved to Eatonton, read law, and was admitted to the bar in 1821. He formed a partnership with James Clark and developed a successful practice.
     In 1833 Cooper was elected to the state legislature from Putnam County as a state-rights advocate. He opposed efforts to reduce the size of the House and supported nullification efforts. In 1831 Cooper and Charles P Gordon recognized the future of railroads and secured a charter for a railroad line from Augusta to Eatonton. This was superseded in 1833 by a charter that authorized a railroad from Augusta to Athens, Madison, or Eatonton and became the basic charter of the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company.
     Cooper achieved a degree of notoriety in 1836 when he was made commander of a battalion of Georgia volunteers who went to Florida to fight in the Seminole War. Cooper was under the overall command of General Winfield Scott and soon incurred his wrath. Governor William Schley had sent a supply of bacon to the Georgia troops, and Scott tried to appropriate it for distribution to his general command. Cooper refused to surrender it, directly challenging Scott's authority. After a mediation session, both compromised on an equitable distribution.
     In 1835 Cooper sold his business interests in Eatonton (which included the Eatonton Factory, one of the earliest cotton mills in Georgia) and moved to Columbus. After securing a liberal charter from the legislature, he opened a bank, the Western Insurance and Trust Company. Cooper's high interest rates angered many local citizens and even prompted Alexander H. Stephens to charge Cooper with operating "the most unequal, unrestricted and iniquitous chartered institution in the State."
     Cooper sold the business and was elected as a State Rights Whig to the Twenty-sixth Congress (1839-41). He lost his bid for re-election in 1840 but was chosen to fill the unexpired term created by the resignation of William C. Dawson. He was elected to the Twenty-eighth Congress as a Democrat, serving from 3 January 1842 to 26 June 1843. He resigned to run for governor, but was defeated by his former classmate George W Crawford.
     In 1842 Cooper had moved his residence to Bartow County and retired there after his political defeat. He established the Etowah Iron Works, later adding a rolling mill and nail factory to the operation. He supervised the construc­tion of several railroads in northwest Georgia and was a pioneer in the opening of coal mines in Dade County.
     Before the Civil War Cooper was a leading southern advocate of economic diversification. He felt that Georgia's mineral resources could be developed to a level at least equal to that of cotton production, providing economic independence for the state. In 1846 he helped organize the South Central Agricultural Society, one of the first such state societies formed in the South.
     Cooper's only other venture into politics came in 1876, when he served briefly as state senator from Bartow County. Cooper supported higher education in Georgia, serv­ing as an early trustee of Mercer University and a trustee of the University of Georgia for nearly fifty years. He died at his home, Glen Holly, in Bartow County on 17 March 1885 and was buried on his estate.1
 
Biography MARK ANTHONY COOPER, who did so much to develop the resources of Georgia, came of a numerous family which had migrated from Virginia to Georgia. He was born in Hancock county, Ga., near Powellton, on April 20, 1800, and died at Etowah, in Bartow county, in the eighty-fifth year of his age. His father was Thomas Cooper, a son of Thomas and Sallie Cooper. Sallie Cooper, grandmother of Mark A. Cooper, was the oldest child of Joseph Anthony, a descendant of Mark Anthony, who was a native of Holland.
     It is worthy of note at this point that William Candler, the progenitor of the distinguished Candler family in Georgia, married Elizabeth Anthony, a younger sister of the Sallie Anthony, who married Thomas Cooper.
     This Mark Anthony had a remarkable career. His father was a native of Genoa, in Italy, and being driven from that country for some reason-religious persecution possibly being the cause, emigrated to Holland. Influenced by the advantages of his native land, he sent his young son Mark back to Italy to be educated. At the school, being ill treated, he ran away to sea with a companion, and was captured by Algerian pirates. The two young men were sold as slaves, put in chains under guard and were set to cutting wood. Being mercilessly treated they determined to escape, and while the attention of the guard wandered for a moment, they knocked him on the head with an axe, broke their chains, and hid themselves in a wood. At night they boarded a British ship in the harbor and persuaded the captain to hide them in a hogshead, on which he piled sacks of coffee. The Algerians searched the ships for the fugitives, but did not remove the coffee sacks and failed to find the young men.
     When the ship left the harbor, they were released and transferred to a ship bound for Virginia, in which new country they decided to settle. Mark Anthony prospered in Virginia and became the ancestor of a numerous family in that State, which, by intermarriage with the Candlers and Coopers and others, now has descendants all over the southern part of the Union, and has given many distinguished men in the learned professions, in business circles and to public life.
     Thomas Cooper, the grandfather of Mark A., had eleven children. One of his younger daughters, Penelope, was the mother of Judge Eugenius A. Nisbet. Thomas Cooper, the second, father of Mark, married Judith Harvey, a daughter of James and Sarah Harvey, and they reared a numerous family. The Harveys, Coopers, Anthonys and Clarks were all from Virginia, and settled in Wilkes and Hancock counties, Ga., most of them near Powellton.
     Mark A. was one of three sons, two of whom died in infancy. He had three sisters, of whom Harriet married a Nisbet, Narcissa a Boykin, and Emma a Branham. Mark went to school in Hancock county to John Denton, Dr. David Cooper and Mark Andrews.
     Later he attended the Mount Zion Academy, under the famous S. S. Beman and Benjamin Gildersleeve. At the Powellton Academy he studied under Iva Ingraham. He then went to Franklin College, at Athens, but on account of the death of Dr. Findley he went to the South Carolina College, of which Dr. Maxey was president. In 1819 he was graduated with the degree of A.B., and in a class in which William Hance Taylor held first honor, C. G. Memminger second honor, and Franklin H. Elman and Mark A. Cooper third honor.
     Leaving college he entered the law office of Judge Strong, in Eatonton, Ga., and was admitted to the bar in 1821. He at once engaged in the practice at Eatonton in partnership with James Clark. The bar of that town at that time comprised some of the most brilliant lawyers in Georgia history, including such men as Alfred Iverson, Mirabeau Lamar, William II. Parks, Samson W. Harris, and others. The elder lawyers at the bar of the circuit at that time included a list of many of the most famous men of Georgia in the antebellum period. There was no Supreme Court in the State, no such great volumes of reports as are now at the service of practicing lawyers, and they had to rely on the trial decision of the courts then in existence. By attending every term of the court and watching closely, Mark Cooper arrived at a thorough knowledge of practice, with a correct understanding of law and the ability to apply it properly. He reported for his own pleasure the litigated cases until it made a volume in manuscript. He was a close and hard student, and the young firm soon began to make headway.
     They grew in influence and in the number of their clients, until in 1838 he was elected to Congress. In the meantime he had inherited a small sum of money and had put it out to interest, and this with the earnings of his practice had accumulated a competency. He had tried planting, but found the lending of his capital brought more profit and less trouble.
     Although he had made a success at the bar, his business qualifications were so strong and his bent in that direction so decided that about 1833 he organized a company with fifty thousand dollars capital and built a cotton factory on Little River, near Eatonton. He furnished the plan of the building, superintended its construction and adjustment of the water power. This was the first well-built water factory in Georgia, except that of Mr. White, at Athens. By this time he had decided to move to Columbus, Ga., and engage in banking. He sold his stock in the cotton factory for par and interest, collected the money due him and went to Columbus about 1835.
     At Columbus he organized a banking company, with two hundred thousand dollars cash capital, and began business as a banker of discount and deposit. He declined to issue bills as was customary at that time. Aided by a strong board of directors he managed this bank successfully over long years, which included the panic of 1837. He and his brother-in-law, Dr. Boykin, owned or controlled nearly all the stock, and all the stockholders were personal friends. The bank was successful and paid annual dividends of sixteen per cent.
     Back in 1831, in connection with Charles P. Gordon, he had agitated the building of a railroad from Augusta to Eatonton. This was the first movement looking to the actual building of a road in Georgia. In 1833 he served in the State Legislature. with this same Charles P. Gordon, and they obtained a charter superseding the one granted in 1831, and this charter with various amendments, is now the charter of the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company. It was drafted in 1833 by William Williams, of Eatonton, Ga., and under that charter the road was built to Madison, Covington, Decatur, and to a place called Marthasville, (now the city of Atlanta), with a branch to Athens. From Atlanta, the State of Georgia, in the midst of great opposition and trouble, built a road to Chattanooga, then called Ross Landing, on the Tennessee River.     Mark A. Cooper was a warm and zealous advocate of this measure. A great celebration took place upon the completion of the road, in which Mr. Cooper was a very prominent figure, and thus he had the pleasure of seeing his dream of 1831 realized -- a railroad from Augusta to Chattanooga. Later on, with his own means, he built a branch of this road to his works, at Etowah, and was a prime factor in the building of the Cartersville and Van Wert Railroad, afterwards extended to Cedartown, and called the East and West Railroad.
     By this time Major Cooper had come to be recognized as one of the foremost developers of the State. About 1842 he bought from Messrs. Stroup a half interest in the iron furnace on Stamp creek, in Bartow county, with about thirteen hundred acres of land. The old furnace was replaced with a new one with ample facilities for the manufacture of pig iron and hollow ware. As the market for iron was in New York and the price obtainable was not a profitable one for charcoal iron, they built a rolling mill, at. a cost of thirty thousand dollars, and after that a nail factory with the necessary shops for both, and a store with a full supply of goods, and houses for five hundred work people. A stone mill, five stories high, with a capacity of three hundred barrels of flour per day was erected, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars, while the lands of the company were increased until they covered an area of twelve thousand acres.
     L. M. Wiley, a native Georgian, then a resident of New York, became interested with Cooper and Stroup. Mr. Stroup was unable to pay his share of the improvements and Mr. Cooper bought him out. Then it was found that the firm owed an immense sum, for that day, one hundred thousand dollars, to Mr. Wiley's New York house. Mr. Wiley insisted that Mr. Cooper should buy the property on three years' time. He did so and paid out the debt. He pushed the flour mill and made a success of that, and for many years, notwithstanding difficulties, continued in the iron business, building a railroad four miles long to connect with the W&A, became a coal shipper, and in 1862, after twenty years struggle, he sold the property for four hundred and fifty thousand dollars, paid all, and had two hundred thousand dollars left. This iron business was the great work of his life, and in it he was a leader of unsual enterprise for that period.
     To go back a little, in 1836, there were troubles with the Seminole Indians. Five companies of volunteers were organized at Macon into a battalion, and Mark A. Cooper elected as major and commanding officer. He took active part in the campaign in Florida, the story of which being one of the most interesting of his life, involving his facing General Scott in defense of what he believed to be the rights of his men and carrying his point because he convinced the general of the merits of his case.
     When the Civil War broke out, he had a very notable interview with President Davis on his way from Montgomery to Richmond and gave him some advice, which in the light of later events was prophetic. Three of Major Cooper's sons fought in the first battle of Manassas, one a major, one a captain, and one a lieutenant. One of them lost his life in that first struggle. In an interview that he had with Mr. Memminger, a former classmate, and then secretary of the treasury for the Confederacy, Mr. Cooper with his usual business foresight urged upon Mr. Memminger to base his Confederate currency upon cotton by buying every bale of cotton in the Confederacy and valuing the currency on it as a redeeming fund. It is clear now that if this advice had been taken the Confederate currency would never have depreciated.
     Commenting on the war and its management years afterwards Major Cooper said, "The Confederate cause was lost, not for lack of men, as I think, but for want of fidelity and faithfulness in the States that seceded; not for lack of money, but for lack of wisdom in the management of its resources. As to the cause of war, it is chargeable not to the abolition of slavery, which was only an incident and exciting cause, but to the capital of the country seeking to control the government through its indebtedness and to foster itself by exemptions and immunities and by profits on the currencies made and controlled by it. War alone could furnish a pretext for doing what it desired." As to the future, he said: "As to the hope for the Constitution and friends of a limited government with definite delegated power and resumed rights in the States, it depends on the full and absolute payment of the public debt, so as to abolish all government credits." These brief quotations give some idea of the scope of Mr. Cooper's mind as to governmental matters.
     Whether in law, in business, or in politics, he was a man of the first rank. His first vote was cast for Governor George M. Troup, the great apostle of State's rights, and Major Cooper was all his life a State's right Democrat of the strictest school. In his election to the Legislature and to Congress, he was elected on that platform. As a result of his convictions, he, with E. J. Black and Walter T. Colquitt became involved in a controversy with the other six members from Georgia and there was a very bitter split, as a result of which Messrs. Black, Colquitt and Cooper, who had previously been elected as State's rights Whigs were next time elected as State's rights Democrats. Major Cooper was then nominated for Governor against the Hon. G. W. Crawford, but was defeated, and after that took no part in political affairs, except as a private citizen.
     He was active in all the great movements for the development of his State for a period of more than thirty years. He was the first president of the Georgia Agricultural Society, greatly interested in the State fairs at which his cattle frequently won premiums, was one of the early trustees of the Mercer University, and later became a trustee of the University of Georgia, a position which he held for nearly forty years. As an example of his forecast, it may be mentioned that at a meeting in the interest of Mercer University, held in Washington, Ga., presided over by the famous Jesse Mercer himself, to consider the question of a locality for Mercer University, Major Cooper advocated Whitehall, a village which stood where the city of Atlanta now stands, and told them it would event ually became a populous center. The audience was profoundly impressed with his argument, but seeing that Dr. Mercer had his heart set on another location, he withdrew his suggestion in deference to the venerable old man and the University was finally located at Penfield and subsequently removed to Macon.
     Major Cooper lived to see Whitehall succeeded by the city of Atlanta, and the land he had pointed out for a site of the Mercer University, which could then have been bought for a song, worth more than a million dollars. All in all he was one of the strong men in that growing period of Georgia embraced between 1830 and 1860, a capable lawyer, and a far-seeing statesman. His greatest ability was as a developer and business man, and in that his foresight was almost infallible, and before the end of his own life he lived to see his judgment justified both in political and business matters.
     Major Cooper was twice married. August 23, 1821, he married Mary Evalina Flournoy, who died in December of the same year. On January 12, 1826 he married Sophronia A. R. Randle, daughter of John and Susan Randle. Her mother was a Coffee, sister of General John Coffee. Of this marriage were born three sons and seven daughters. Four of the daughters died in infancy. Thomas L. and John Frederick Cooper fell in battle during the Civil War. Mark Eugene Cooper served through the war, and survived until December, 1907.
     Thomas L. Cooper left three children, the late Dr. Hunter P. Cooper, of Atlanta; Thomas L. Cooper, of Decatur, Ga., and Mrs. Sallie Sanders, of Washington, Ga.
     John Frederick Cooper left three children: John Paul Cooper, of Rome, Ga., Walter G. Cooper, of Atlanta, and Frederick Cooper, of Gainesville, Texas.
     Mark Eugene Cooper never married. Of the two surviving daughters, Volumnia A. married Thomas P. Stovall, and Rosa L. Cooper is unmarried.11

 

Family 1

Mary Evaline Flournoy (1804 - 1 Dec 1821)
Marriage*23 Aug 1821 He married Mary Evaline Flournoy on 23 Aug 1821 at age 21.2 

Family 2

Sophronia A. R. Randle (say 1805 - )
Marriage*6 Jan 1826 He married Sophronia A. R. Randle on 6 Jan 1826 at age 25.1,4 
Last Edited18 Oct 2008

Citations

  1. Kenneth Coleman and Charles Stephen Gurr, Dictionary of Georgia Biography, University of Georgia Press, 1983.
    pages 217-218.
  2. Kenneth Coleman and Charles Stephen Gurr, Dictionary of Georgia Biography, University of Georgia Press, 1983.
    pp 217-218.
  3. Edward F. Hull, Early Records of Putnam County, Georgia, 1807-1860: Old Cemeteries Wills and Marriages, Ashland, AL, 190?.
    "Mrs. Everlina Cooper, Daughter of William & Nancy Flournoy, Consort of Mark A. Cooper, Died Dec. 1, 1821, Age 17 years", page 17.
  4. Edward F. Hull, Early Records of Putnam County, Georgia, 1807-1860: Old Cemeteries Wills and Marriages, Ashland, AL, 190?.
    Mark A. Cooper md. Saphronia Randle, 6 Jan 1825. Page 21.
  5. Edward F. Hull, Early Records of Putnam County, Georgia, 1807-1860: Old Cemeteries Wills and Marriages, Ashland, AL, 190?.
    Will dated 13 Jul 1829 and probated 13 Jun 1831. Page 22: Cites Will Book B-page 101.
  6. Tad Evans, Georgia Newspaper Clippings, Putnam Co. Extracts, Vol. 2, T. Evans, Savannah, GA, 1998.
    page 5.
  7. Tad Evans, Georgia Newspaper Clippings, Putnam Co. Extracts, Vol. 2, T. Evans, Savannah, GA, 1998.
    page 17.
  8. Edward F. Hull, Early Records of Putnam County, Georgia, 1807-1860: Old Cemeteries Wills and Marriages, Ashland, AL, 190?.
    Will dated 29 May 1843 and probated 10 Jul 1843. Page 29: Cites Will Book B-page 178.
  9. Edward F. Hull, Early Records of Putnam County, Georgia, 1807-1860: Old Cemeteries Wills and Marriages, Ashland, AL, 190?.
    "Thomas Cooper, Died July 5, 1843, age 72 years", page 17.
  10. Muscogee Co., GA Court of Probate Records. Transcribed by Warren Culpepper from photocopy by Mrs. Eugene Millsaps III.
  11. William J. Northern, Men of Mark in Georgia, Vol. II, The Reprint Company, Spartanburg SC, 1974.
    Pages 207-214. Biography written by Walter G. Cooper of Atlanta.