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Jacob and Catherine COPPENBARGER were among the earliest settlers of DeWitt County, Illinois.  The early written history of DeWitt County states that they arrived in 1824, our research shows that it was a few years earlier that Jacob came. We have found Jacob on the 1820 census of Illinois, as well as his son John.

Jacob was born November 1, 1769 in Wythe County, VA., Catherine b. September 1, 1780 was the daughter of John SNAVELY b. Oct. 1759 Smythe County, VA. They were married about 1796 in Wythe County, VA. Jacob truly witnessed the birth of America. He was born in an English Colony and by the time he was twenty years old, he lived in a new country and "The Bill of Rights" were being added to the new constitution. Catherine was born as this new country came alive and would follow the
frontier half-way across the continent as the country grew. Imagine the courage it took to gather their family, and travel across 1500 miles through the wilderness of the early 1800ís. Leaving behind not only their family and friends, but all they knew as civilization and coming to a land filled with Indians and other unknown dangers.

From the early records we have found, we know that Jacob and his family took not only their rights but their duties seriously. Jacob COPPENBARGER started the first school in DeWitt County in his own home. It was taught by Edom SHUGART. Jacobís son John COPPENBARGER built the first grist mill in DeWitt County. Jacobís sons were of the first to serve jury duty in Dewitt Co. Jacobís daughter Mary Annís marriage to Elisha BUTLER was one of the first marriages performed in DeWitt County. Her child is said to have been the first white child born in Tunbridge township.  Jacobís sons John, George, and Elias served during the Black Hawk War.  Family stories say this was hard because the family had made friends with the Indians and then had to fight them. John also served his country in the War of 1812. Joseph, son of Jacob, served in the Mexican War.

Jacob and Catherine built their home in Tunbridge Township, on the N. E. quarter of section 7, along Salt Creek. One of the earliest Cemeteries was on their property and later became known as "Hays Cemetery". Jacob COPPENBARGER was influential in the establishment of the First Baptist Church and was an elder until his death. Jacob and Catherine had twelve children, John b. 1797 Wythe Co.,VA., Elias b. 1799 Wythe Co.,VA., Jacob II b. 1801 Wythe Co.,VA., Joseph b. 1803 Wythe Co.,VA., George b. 1804 Wythe Co.,VA., Mary Ann (Mrs. Elisha Butler)b. 1808 Blount Co., TN., Elizabeth (Mrs. Wyatt Strickland)b.1809 Blount Co., TN., Sarah (Mrs. Obediah Hooper)b. 1812 Blount Co., TN., Catherine(Mrs. William Hooper)b. 1813 Bount Co., TN., Peter b. 1817 Blount Co., TN., William b. 1820 Blount Co., TN., and Emaline ( Mrs. William Hays)b. 1826 DeWitt Co., IL. Jacob died 7-November-1841, Catherine died 25-April-1857, both are buried at Hays Cemetery within feet of where they raised their family.

Biography written by Earliene Kaelin G. G. G. G. Granddaughter of Jacob and Catherine Coppenbarger.
Home address: 1118 156th St. E. Tacoma, WA.

 Peter Copenbarger V.S. John Copenbarger Etal

Recently, a fellow descendent sent me (the webmaster) a photocopied set of documents documents dealing with the distribution of Jacob's estate.  Among them, I found a typed copy of a court record in which Jacob's son Peter petitioned the court to release a section of property from the general estate and to put it in his name.  It appears to be a legal necessity, and not a suit created in anger.  As much as I can understand the nineteenth century leagalease, Peter had a verbal agreement with his father for this property, but it was not included in the will.  The term "etal" means "and others" and so John, the remaining siblings and their mother Catherine are named in the document.  However, what I found most interesting was the following blurb, which helps to explain the lack of documentation for the land transaction and gives us some insight into Jacob's life:
--that Jacob Copenbarger is a lineal descendent from an old German nation - that he is scarcely able to speak much less write the English languange correctly that it has been learned that the custom of said Jacob Copenbarger to make all contracts by palal?? and that said Jacob Copenbarger had he known that it was by Law was proper to reduce such contracts to writing in order to secure the parties could not have did so without the imposition of some third person
State of Illinois County of Dewitt, Circuit Court May Term, Anus Domine 1842, Filed Feb. 28th 1842
Surnames Gallery Blackhawk War