WILLIAM JAMES COPREN
††††† The fact that William J. Copren, of Sierraville, is now serving his seventh consecutive terms as assessor of Sierra County is strong evidence of the ability, integrity and faithfulness of the man, and today no citizen of his county is more highly honored.† A native of Salem, Massachusetts, he was born on the 20th of February, 1873, and is a son of William and Susan (Higgins) Copren.† His father, who was of French and Irish extraction, was born in the province of Quebec, Canada, in 1849, and was married in the east.† Moving to Massachusetts, he became a brick and stonemason, which trade he followed until coming to California in 1877.† Here he became a contractor and timber man, and also burned charcoal extensively, selling this product to the various mines and forges in his section of the country.† In 1903, while hauling a load weighing seven thousand pounds, his team became fractious, pulling Mr. Copren down off the load, and he was run over by the heavy wagon and instantly killed.† The mother died at Reno, Nevada, September 10, 1929, at the age of eight-five years.† Grandfather Higgins, who was of Scotch-Irish stock, lived to the age of ninety-three years.† Of the eight children born to William and Susan Copren, six are living, William James; Rose, of Reno, Nevada; Margaret, a trained nurse, who served overseas during the late war and now resides in San Francisco; Susette, who is conducting a rooming house in Reno, Nevada, and is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music and an accomplished pianist and singer; Charles A., a contractor and builder at Folsom, California; and John V., a lawyer, with offices in the Crocker Building, San Francisco.
††††† William J. Copren attended the public schools of Sierra City and learned the trade of meat cutting.† Besides following that line of work, he clerked in stores during the summers.† As a young man he also served as sawyer and saw setter in local mills and in that way earned the money necessary to pursue his higher education.† In 1893 he matriculated in the State College at San Jose, then known as the San Jose State Normal School, from which he was graduated in 1896.† He taught his first school in Alleghany, Sierra County, and continued teaching until 1907, when he assumed his present office.† True to his habit, he lost no time, teaching until the last of February and entered the assessorís office on March 1st.† He has been reelected at each four-year period since and can probably hold the office of assessor as long as he so desires, for his duties have been performed in a manner that has been highly satisfactory to the property owners and taxpayers of the county.
††††† During his lengthy period of service Mr. Copren has appointed four different deputies in succession, each of whom died in office.† His first deputy was John T. Boley, a southern secessionist and a Republican, who had previously served as county coroner and public administrator.† He rendered able service as deputy assessor, being capable and honest, and remained in the office until his death, in 1907.† He was succeeded by Jack W. Wolf, another southerner, who also died in office.† After him came W. A. Lotspiech, a southerner, and at one time a mine owner in Sierra County.† After his death Mr. Copren appointed Charles Keller, of Sierra City, a well known and honored old gentleman.† He too died in office, since which time Mr. Copren has handled the affairs of the office without assistance.† These four deputies were men of unusually strong character and ability.† All are buried in the cemetery at Downieville and it is Mr. Coprenís intention to erect a monument to each of them.
††††† In 1903, at Sattley, California, Mr. Copren was united in marriage to Miss Jennie L. Church, a daughter of Ezra and Jennie (Menzies) Church, who were numbered among the pioneer settlers of Sattley.† Mr. and Mrs. Copren are the parents of two children, William E., who graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nevada in 1929, and is now engaged in teaching, and Margaret Alice, who is a sophomore in the high school at Sierraville.
††††† In his political alignment Mr. Copren is a Democrat, prominent in the councils of his party, being a member of the democratic central committee of Sierra County and a member of the state central committee.† He belongs to Sierraville Lodge, No. 184, F. & A. M., of which he has been master four times; Mountain Vale Lodge, No. 140, I. O. O. F., at Sierraville, of which he is a past noble grand; Crystal Encampment, No. 64, P. M., at Sierraville, of which he is a past chief patriarch and has been the secretary for the past twenty-six years, and has also served as chairman of the committee on petitions of the California grand encampment.† He was formerly a member of Lodge No. 44, K. P., which was located at Forest, a mining town in Sierra County, and is a member of Reno Lodge, No. 597, B. P. O. E., at Reno, Nevada.† Mr. Copren is a great lover of music and is a proficient player of the baritone horn, having been a member of the juvenile band and two later bands in Sierra County.† His office is in the courthouse at Downieville, but he still maintains his residence in Sierraville.† One of his schoolmates at the San Jose Normal School in 1893 was the present Mrs. Herbert Hoover, the first lady of the land, with whom he was personally acquainted at that time.† Being an experienced timber man, Mr. Copren is frequently engaged by private concerns to cruise timber, for which work he finds time, as the duties of his position require him to be in his office only from March to August of each year.† Trout fishing is his favorite pastime, and he also derives great pleasure from music.† Probably no citizen of Sierra County is better known that Mr. Copren and certainly none is held in higher regard by the people generally, for he possesses to a marked degree the personal qualities which commend a man to the good opinion of his fellowmen.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3 Pages 217-219. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.