DANIEL A. COOPER
Daniel Ayres Cooper, who is now living a retired life at Sutter Creek and is numbered among the leading pioneer settlers of California in 1852, is a native of Denville, Morris County, New Jersey, born January 16, 1825, and is of Holland and French Huguenot ancestry, the families having been founded in Haverstraw, New York, at a very early day. Representatives of the name have been prominent in the events which form the history of the nation. The grandfather, John Cooper, and the maternal grandfather, David Garrigus, were both Revolutionary soldiers, as was also Robert Ayres, our subject’s great-grandfather, who, as minute men, participated in the struggle which brought independence to the nation.
David Cooper, the father of our subject, was born in Denville, New Jersey, and married Annie S. Ayres, who on the paternal side was of Scotch-Irish lineage, while on the maternal side she represented the Garrigus family of French Huguenot lineage. Mr. and Mrs. Cooper were respectable farming people who spent their entire lives in Denville and in Franklin, New Jersey, the towns being two miles apart. The father attained the very advanced age of ninety-seven years, nine months and twenty-two days, and his wife was eighty-eight years and six months old at the time of her demise. In their family were six sons and six daughters, all of which reached the age of maturity, with one exception. The largest and apparently the strongest member of the family died in his eighteenth year. Four years before the death of David Cooper, an enumeration of his direct descendants showed that there were thirty-six grandchildren, forty-eight great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. Thus he lived to see five generations of his name. Our subject now has in his possession a pamphlet history of the Cooper family in the United States showing that it is not only strong numerically, but that many of its representatives have been prominent in professional, commercial and industrial life. David Cooper’s longevity may undoubtedly be attributed to his temperate habits, for he never used liquor or tobacco in any form. He was an honest, industrious man, true to every manly principle and wherever he was known he commanded the respect of those with whom he came in contact.
Daniel Ayres Cooper, whose name introduces this review, the second in order of birth in his father’s numerous family, was reared on the home farm, and attended the common schools in his native town and the Union School in Franklin. In early life he learned the wheelwright trade and was engaged in the manufacture of wagons and carriages in Rockaway, New Jersey, until 1852, at which time he came to California, sailing around Cape Horn on the clipper ship Empire. It was a merchant vessel with about one hundred passengers on board. Mr. Cooper’s most intimate friend, Simeon Val Fleet, died on the voyage and was buried at sea. After rounding Cape Horn they encountered a fearful storm, in which all of the rigging of the ship was carried away, and it was believed that everyone on board would meet a watery grave; but the staunch vessel at length came off victorious and in her wrecked condition, after much delay, reached San Francisco with all on board. Mr. Cooper went at once to Benicia, Solano County, where he worked at his trade for a month, after which he removed to Tuttletown, Tuolumne County, spending the winter at the placer mines. He met with ill success, however, in his mining ventures and in April he returned to Benicia, working for the Pacific Mail Company at the carpenter’s trade for six dollars per day. He also did shop work at which he made eight dollars per day.
In 1855 he returned to his family by way of the Nicaragua route, and again engaged in the manufacture of wagons and carriages. He remained at Rockaway for five years, meeting with a fair degree of success in his business ventures, but preferring the climate of California he returned by the Panama route, the trip being a pleasant one. Again reaching the Golden state he took up his abode in Sacramento, where he worked at his trade until the 6th of March, 1861, when he arrived at Sutter Creek and accepted a position in the foundry and machine shop owned by Frank Tibbits. There he remained for seven and a half years, his excellent workmanship and his reliability making him a valued employee. In 1868 he again made the trip to the east to bring his wife and daughter to California. They returned by the Panama route and he once more entered the foundry and machine shop. After Mr. Tibbits’ death he continued with the latter’s successor, Samuel Manning, for two years, and then opened a wagon and carriage shop of his own, building wagons of various descriptions and doing repair work. Success attended his efforts and he carried on a large and profitable business until 1894, when he sold out his shop and retired to private life. As the years passed he made judicious investments in real estate and is today the owner of ten thousand acres of land in Texas, which he rents and brings to him a good income.
Mrs. Cooper died January 1, 1881, at the age of fifty-four years, and Mr. Cooper now makes his home with his daughter Sarah, the wife of Thomas Trudgen. His life has been ever honorable and upright and his activity in business affairs has brought to him a merited competence. He has relied entirely upon his own efforts and his industry has been most marked. In addition to the Texas property he owns a good residence at Sutter Creek. In early life he gave his political support to the Democracy, but his devotion to his country led him to espouse the Union cause, and he joined the Republican Party, which was formed to prevent the further extension of slavery and which upheld the government at Washington during the Civil War. He, however, believes in the fitness of the candidate for office and always takes this into consideration. He has never had political aspirations for himself, but at all times has been faithful to his duty, to his country and to his fellow men. His honorable life commends him to the respect of all, and his example is in many ways well worthy of emulation.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.