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Collection Title: Cooper-Chapman-Thompson Letters

Collection Number: M302

Dates: ca. 1783 - 1893

Volume: 14 Items

Provenance: Letters were transferred from the McCain Library Genealogy Collection on July 15, 1990. Family history and photographs were donated by Mrs. Carol York on October 17, 1997.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

The Cooper Family

Hamilton Cooper, the fourth son of William Gill and Dempsey Dehano Cooper, was born on February 15, 1815, in Hinds County, Mississippi. Moving to Newton County sometime after 1830, Cooper earned a living as a farmer and also served as a District Judge. On December 28, 1837, Cooper married Sarah Jacob (b. October 20, 1817) in Decatur, Mississippi. Between 1838 and 1852, Hamilton and Sarah had six children, including two sons, William Gill and Hamilton Bond. William Gill served in the 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War and was lost at the Battle of Corinth. Records indicate William G. Cooper was last seen carrying the regimental colors during a Confederate assault on the Union fortifications. After the war, Hamilton and Sarah Cooper remained in Newton County, while three of their children moved to Texas, including Hamilton Bond Cooper. Sarah Jacob Cooper died on September 27, 1886, and Hamilton Cooper died as a result of a fall on July 1, 1894.

Born on March 4, 1845, Hamilton Bond Cooper was the second son of Hamilton and Sarah Jacob Cooper. On December 24, 1868, he married Abbie Mann (b.February 6, 1849), and eventually the couple moved from Newton County, Mississippi to Hunt County, Texas. The Coopers had ten children -- nine daughters and one son, but records indicate that two daughters died in childhood. Earning a living as a preacher, Cooper remained in Hunt County until his death on July 2, 1912. Abbie Mann cooper died on June 17, 1929. Both are buried in Hunt County, Texas.

The Chapman Family

The Chapman Family emigrated from England and settled in South Carolina in the late eighteenth century. Edward Edwards Chapman, born in South Carolina on December 4, 1812, moved to Mississippi during the pioneer days of the state. Chapman married his first wife, Talitha Matilda Toole, on December 5, 1832 in Newton County, Mississippi, and together, the couple reared six children. The youngest son, David Toole Chapman (b.1839), served the Confederacy during the American Civil War, and was enlisted in the same regiment as William Gill Cooper.

Chapman's first wife died in 1842, and three years later he married Sarah Wells. The couple reared six children, including two sons, Robert Emmotte and James Edward. Robert Emmotte (b.1852) remained in Mississippi throughout his life, taking over the family farm and business following the death of his father on September 23, 1886.

James Edward Chapman (b.April 29, 1850) became a preacher and married Janie Thompson (b. October 1, 1853). Between 1875 and 1896 they had ten children. Reverend Chapman continued to preach throughout his life and remained in Newton County with his family. He died in February, 1934, and his wife, Janie, died three months later.

The Thompson Family

The Thompson Family first appears in Cumberland County, North Carolina, in the late eighteenth century, in the person of Dougald Thompson. Dougald Thompson was born prior to 1754 and died in about 1783, in North Carolina. He and his wife, Margaret, were the the parents of four sons -- Duncan, Archibald, Dugald, and Malcolm. Duncan and Archibald moved to Georgia in the early 1800s, and by appoximately 1820, both had relocated to Mississippi, residing in Covington, Newton, and Jasper Counties.

Not much is known about Archibald Thompson except that he died in Covington County in about 1821.

Duncan Thompson was married to Margaret Armstrong and they were the parents of five children -- George A., Katherine, Neil, Duncan Jr., and David B. -- all of whom remained in Mississippi. Neil Thompson and his wife Charity had nine children, one of whom was Janie Thompson Chapman, who is mentioned in the Chapman Family sketch, above. Therefore, the Thompson and Chapman Families were linked through marriage.

Neil Thompson died in approximately 1861. He is said to have accidentally shot himself while climbing a fence. After Neil's death, Charity married Elijah Elias Haralson.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains correspondence between members of the Cooper, Chapman, and Thompson families of Newton County, Mississippi written between 1862 and 1893; a deed for a parcel of land sold by David B. Thompson and his wife Dicy, to Edward E. Chapman; a history of the family of Dougald and Margaret Thompson; and three reproductions of tintypes featuring members of the Thompson Family.

The nine items of correspondence in the collection include two photocopies of letters written by William Gill Cooper to his father while William served with the 37th Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War. The letters are difficult to read due to the poor quality of the photocopies. However, typescripts of both letters are available for the researcher's convenience. Dated April 15 and October 12, 1862, the letters include details concerning family members, the welfare of friends, those wounded and killed, and information on skirmishes between Confederate and Union forces in the area of North Mississippi. Cooper also complains about the weather and calls on his family to send more clothing whenever possible. The letter dated October 12 is the last known correspondence between William G. Cooper and his family before the Battle of Corinth, during which Cooper disappeared while carrying the regimental colors toward a Union fortification. Listed in the casualty returns of the Battle of Corinth as "Lost", the actual fate of William G. Cooper is still unknown. The letter dated April 15, 1862, is the only one signed by Cooper.

Of the remaining seven letters, three were written in 1893 by Judge Hamilton Cooper of Decatur (Newton County), Mississippi, to his son, Reverend Hamilton Bond Cooper of Caddo Mills (Hunt County), Texas. The letters, dated July 21, September 3, and October 27, are photocopied typescripts of the originals.

Judge Cooper's letters to his son contain colorful details concerning the weather, the bad cotton harvests in the years after the American Civil War, and information describing religious gatherings, such as church meetings, Sunday services, and informal outdoor gatherings. For example, the letter dated July 21 contains details of a meeting held at Decatur, including who attended the meeting and the activities that took place, such as hymn singing and preaching. Also of interest are personal observations made by Judge Cooper concerning certain individuals, mainly comments on particular preachers and the contents of their sermons. In the letter dated September 3, for example, Cooper describes the sermon offered by Brother Clark and appears displeased with Clark's efforts. The letters also contain information describing the welfare of family and friends, including Cooper's own personal health. In all the letters, Cooper complains of illness and chastises his son for the lack of correspondence from Texas.

The final four letters in the collection are handwritten letters received by Robert E. Chapman of Newton County between January 7, 1869, and March 14, 1876. Two of the letters were written by Tobias Thompson (no address), one dated May 26 (no year) and the other dated March 11, 1876. Of the two remaining letters, one was written by Robert H. Hickson of Franklin County (no state indicated), dated January 7, 1869. The other is dated March 17, 1872, and is from J.C. Haralson of Comanche, Texas. Difficult to read in places, the letters refer to family matters, the welfare of particular individuals, and the economic differences between Mississippi and Texas.

The deed between David and Dicy Thompson and Edward E. Chapman is a single sheet, handwritten on both sides, dated January 28, 1853. The document is signed by David B. Thompson, Neal Thompson, E.E. Chapman, and J.P. (Davis, Jr.?), Newton County Probate Clerk.

Also in the collection is a history of the family of Dougald and Margaret Thompson which traces the family from North Carolina, through Georgia and Mississippi, and finally to Texas. The document was compiled by Mrs. Carol York of Middletown, New Jersey, who has done extensive research on the Thompson Family. In this document, Mrs. York used excerpts from public records (deeds, wills, census data and so forth), interspersed with narrative written by herself, to create a rather comprehensive portrait of the family.

The final items in the collection are three photographs (reproductions of tintypyes) portraying Neil Thompson (ca. 1860); Neil's wife, Charity, and their son Robert Tobious (ca. 1859-1860); and Neil and Charity's son, Duncan (ca. 1860).

The collection is of note to anyone interested in the Reconstruction era, as the items contain a wealth of information on the economic hardship suffered in Mississippi during those years. Also of interest, is the comparison between the welfare of Mississippians and Texans during the years after the American Civil War. In addition, those researching religious practices in Mississippi in the late nineteenth century may also find some valuable details concerning religious meetings and information on particular church figures. Finally, the collection would be of great interest to anyone researching the Dougald and Margaret Thompson Family.


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