Monday, May 29, 2017

World War II Letters - "One Day in March" 1942 - Written by Stan Cooper

Frank Brechlin 1959
Stan realizes it has been too long since he has written to his family. He can only write and mail letters when the ship comes into port. This is also when he receives mail from family. I wish I knew what pictures he was talking about "of Mom and I." Who are the Brechlin family? I found out from my aunt, that Frank and Carrie Brechlin were neighbors that lived two houses down the street who took many photos of their neighbors. The Brechlins had no children of their own so they loved all of the children on their street. They still communicated with my grandparents after Frank and Carrie retired down in Florida.

The Brechlins help Stan and Eileen prepare  for a photo.
My aunt knew what photos I have in my possession that were taken by Mr. Brechlin. Going through my dad's baby album, I find two photos of the Brechlins. One photo shows them with my dad and aunt preparing the children for a photo taken in 1931. I have another of Frank taken with his camera in 1959 as shown above.

He also mentions a letter from Tanta that he has to answer. Tanta is his grand aunt, Sophia GUNTHER Muller (1856-1952). She is his maternal grandmother's elder sister. 

I have more stories to share of his memories of her growing up when I post about her life.

Eleven years later, Stan's mother finds the letter and sends it on to Stan reminiscing back to war time and filling in about her current grandchildren, Stan's nephews and niece. She mentions she "will be glued to the TV tomorrow to new inauguration." Must be Ike -1953. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

World War II Letters - 21 January 1942 - Written by Stan Cooper

USS San Diego Memorial - West side

Stan is transferred from the Atlantic Fleet to the Pacific Fleet changing ship homes to the USS San Diego - CL53. He becomes a part of the fire control gang. He explains in more detail what his new job covers.

The USS San Diego was a light anti-aircraft cruiser commissioned on 10 January 1942, in Boston, Massachusetts. My father was honored to be one of the first to serve as her crew. The San Diego was honored to never lose any of its men in battle. She earned 18 battle stars and covered over 300,000 miles.

A few years back, my dad's sister, Eileen, discovered the USS San Diego memorial which was dedicated on 30 April 2004, in San Diego.

USS San Diego Memorial - East side

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Walter Ernest Cooper (1866-1949)

The Old Cooper Bible
Photo taken from his Declaration of Intention 1933

The Grave Digger

Walter Ernest Cooper is the seventh son and tenth child of Austin COOPER and Elizabeth GIBSON born 13/14 Aug 1866 in Moate, Co. Westmeath, Ireland. I find his birth Registration through microfilm #0,101,132 from Salt Lake City. Austin is listed as a station master. The Moate Railway Station is the stop between Mullingar and Athlone. Today it is a dilapidated station.

I was so thrilled as this was the first time (2005) I saw Elizabeth Gibson Cooper's name on an official document. I was disappointed that the microfilmed copy was so poorly done with the dark shadow over his date of birth. 

"Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881," database, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Walter Ernest Cooper, 13 Aug 1866; citing 0024,MOATE,WESTMEATH,IRELAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 101,132. Accessed 5 May 2005.

At age 18, two years after his father’s death, in May 1885, Walter with his younger brother, Ashley Joseph Cooper, 16, on the S.S. City of Rome, immigrate together to New York City. Their mother, Elizabeth Gibson Cooper, sailed to New York City the year before in 1884.

"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital image, ( : accessed 19 May 2017), Image 722 of 1059, Line 498, Walter Cooper entry, citing List Number 490 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, Roll 485; Ship City of Rome out of Liverpool, R. W. M[???] master, arrived New York on 1 May 1885.

By the 1900 US Federal Census, I find Walter Cooper, a boarder, in the small town of Rocky Ford, Colorado, about 170 miles southeast of Denver. Nothing else is stated about him and several other boarders. 

In 1910, Walter has moved up to Denver living in the Riverside Cemetery Boarding House, stating he came to US in 1884 and going through his Pa[pers] process for Citizenship. He is a gravedigger at the Riverside Cemetery. This led me to search for his Citizenship Papers which I found on 

1920 finds Walter as a cemetery caretaker, but living on his own on the road “Near Cemetery.” This census states he was Naturalized in 1895. Was this in Travis, Texas? Much has happened between 1883 to 1900 that I have no record. 

1930, he is still a cemetery worker in his own place. 

This decade was when I find a record of Walter filing his Citizenship papers in Denver, Colorado. 

He filed his Declaration of Intention on 2 Mar 1933 in Denver, Colorado.

Colorado, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1868-1990. NARA NAI Number: M1192. Record Group Number: 21. : accessed 19 May 2017. Walter Ernest Cooper. 2 Mar 1933. Declaration of Intention File No. 11402.
Interesting to see recorded that he had made a previous attempt on filing a Declaration of Intention in Travis, Texas, on 4th November 1890. I will have to follow up on this paper work. He waited too late to follow through to the next step of Petitioning while in Texas. 

His next step was his Petition for Citizenship which he filled out on 30 Aug 1935. I see his two affidavits are coworkers at the cemetery. 

Colorado, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1868-1990. NARA NAI Number: M1192. Record Group Number: 21. : accessed 19 May 2017. Walter Ernest Cooper. 30 Aug 1935. Declaration of Intention File No. 7027.
In the1940 census, Walter is a lodger on Humboldt St. still working in the local cemetery.

Walter E. Cooper died on 12 Apr 1949 in Denver, Colorado. He is buried in the cemetery he worked at most of his life. Riverside Cemetery is the historical cemetery of Denver.

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 21 Apr 2013). memorial page for Walter E. Cooper (1866--1949), Find A Grave Memorial no. 23411535, citing Riverside Cemetery, Denver, Denver County, Colorado; the accompanying photograph by Bob Rohwedder is materially informative,
The family Bible was found here in Denver back in 1960. A lady found it in an old boarding house on Speer Blvd. for ten cents. She posted on Message Boards back in 2003 a transcription of the back cover. I discovered the family Bible in 2006, typing in “Arthur Lincoln Cooper.”  I had the Bible in my hands a week later. Is this the family Bible that belonged to Walter, even though his name is not entered in it? His younger brother, Ashley Joseph’s birth date and location are entered in at a later time in different handwriting. See original post “The Old Cooper Bible.”

Walter outlived all 14 of his siblings.

This brings more family mysteries to solve. What happened to his sixteen year old younger brother, Ashley Joseph COOPER? I will cover Ashley's story soon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Elizabeth “Bessie” Cooper Pearson (1857-1938) Part 2

Bessie was the sixth child of Austin COOPER and Elizabeth GIBSON. Of all fourteen children born to this couple, Bessie and her elder brother, Arthur Lincoln Cooper were the only two born in England.

Bessie married John David PEARSON on 4 June 1878, in Ballentemple, Co. Caven, Ireland.

Ireland Marriage Records. John David Pearson and Elizabeth Cooper. 4 June 1878. Quarter 2. Volume 3. Page 57. No. 83. Civil Registration Office, Roscommon, Ireland. Accessed 13 November 2008.
John David PEARSON was a bank clerk in Dublin, Ireland, where the couple settled to make their home. 

After the death of Bessie’s father, Austin COOPER in 1883 and the emigration of her mother, Elizabeth Gibson Cooper to the United States in 1884; Bessie takes in her youngest sister Marian Frances COOPER, age 12, to raise for the next six years.

I find 18 year old Marian emigrating also to the United States in 1890 to Texas with her brother- in-law John David Pearson. 

“New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital image, ( : accessed 17 September 2015), image 115 of 735, Line 1174, John D. Pearson, & Line 1175, Maria[n] F. Cooper entries; citing List Number 555 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, Roll 547, Ship City of Richmond out of Liverpool, England & Queenstown, Ireland,    Francis S. Land master, arrived  New York on 28 April 1890.
I will cover Marian’s story in a future blog post.

I easily find the couple Bessie and John in the Ireland 1901 and 1911 census records as mentioned in Bessie’s previous post. They had no children.

Bessie became a widow on 9 May 1918, when John died of Pneumonia Cardiac failure at home 72 Upper Leeson Street. He was 67 years old.  

Ireland. Death Records. John David Pearson. 9 May 1918. Quarter 2. Volume 2. Page 460. No. 49. Civil Registration Office, Roscommon, Ireland. Accessed 18 April 2009. 
Two years later, when Bessie came to the United States to visit family, the ship record stated that she is a housekeeper and that she lived with her niece, Mrs. Barlow. Who is this and is she a niece from her side of the family or her husband, John David Pearson’s side? Another new family member to hunt down!

"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital image, ( : accessed 7 May 2017), Image 835 of 1107, Line 3, Bessie Pearson entry; citing List Number 14 of National Archives Microfilm Publication T715, Roll 2930; Ship Carmania out of Liverpool, Geo. W. Melson master, arrived New York on 28 February 1921.
Bessie also brought some family heirlooms to share with her nieces and nephews here in the United States. These include two family Cooper crest rings mentioned in two previous posts.

Another one is a hand petite point piece of the face of Christ which she presented to her nephew, my grandfather, John Carrick Cooper. The family story is that my Pop, rolled up the piece and put it in the closet for 20 years! When my grandparents came to Texas to visit my parents, they brought this hand stitched piece to present it to them, which my mother framed. This has been hanging proudly in my home ever since. 

Petite Point of Christ in author’s possession
I was ecstatic to find the post card below with the hand stitched Christ’s history in family files. I will cover more detail of its history when I post my blog on its creator, Samuel Cooper (1802-1874), my 3rd great grandfather. What other items did she bring to share with other relatives in the United States?

Austin Cooper NOT Austin Damer Cooper
Transcription of postcard:


Given to Marty by Sophie Cooper May -1955
Framed in Feb. -1956

Samuel Cooper

Aunt Bessie - daughter of Austin Damer Cooper & 
Elizabeth Gibson

(Handwritten by Martha L. Cooper)


This was worked by Samuel Cooper of 4 Merrion Sq. Dublin & Abbeyville Kinsealy, Co. Dublin about 70-80 years ago. (Handwritten by Bessie Cooper Pearson 1920)

May 1920 was date Aunt Bessie of Dublin brought it over here. History of petite point written in Aunt Bessie's handwriting above. (Handwritten by Sophie R. Cooper 1955)

I had no idea as to Bessie's death, until I found her obituary in an American newspaper, The Sedalia Weekly Democrat dated 2 Dec 1938. ( This leads me to order her death certificate verifying her death in Manchester, England, in late 1938. Bessie was buried with husband, John David Pearson, in Dublin, Ireland.

Mrs. J. W. [D.] Pearson [Elizabeth "Bessie" Cooper Pearson] obituary. The Sedalia Weekly Democrat, 2 December 1938, p. 5, col. 4. Sedalia, Missouri on : Accessed 18 Mar 2015.
This article was a great find to fill me in with more of her (and my great grand father’s) siblings. Interesting to see that her visit to New York in 1922 and her New York relatives were not mentioned in this piece.

More stories to follow on Bessie’s siblings.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

World War II Letters - 2 and 7 December 1941 - Written by Stan Cooper

December 7th, 1941 - A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

A week before the committed involvement of the United States in World War II with Japan, Stan was assigned to his first “boat,” the USS MELVILLE AD-2, a destroyer tender, a non-combatant support service which “tended, repaired, and supplied destroyers and other small ships. Destroyers were small, fast ships, jammed full of machinery and weapons, with necessarily small crews. Destroyer Tenders serviced the destroyers at sea, so the destroyers did not have to return stateside for most repairs.”1

Stan dreamed of serving on a “tin can,” a destroyer ship as seen in this letter.

He served on the USS MELVILLE until the following spring.

During the time Stan served on the MELVILLE, the vessel was returning from Bermuda servicing "neutrality patrol ships until returning to Norfolk on 28 November [1941]. Melville got underway on 12 January 1942 for Europe, reaching Derry, Northern Ireland on 31 January to begin tending escort ships of Allied convoys crossing the submarine infested Atlantic.”2

1) Sherman, Stephen. “Destroyer Tenders, US Navy Service and Repairs Ships of WW2.” 2012.

2) Wikipedia.

December 2nd

This letter was written from the Tower Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a transient resident hotel, as seen from the letterhead. Stan is excited over his first assignment on a ship.

His brother's marriage took place on 29 November 1941. Stan was so sorry to have had to miss it.

December 7th

This letter was written and posted before Stan heard of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. News travelled much slower during those times. Stan wrote another letter on the 5th of December as mentioned in my next future post. This was when the military started to censor their soldiers' mail. I would think they would have done this much earlier. Did his parent's even get this letter, as I do not have a copy of it?

Stan's mother would pass around Stan's letters to other family members, including aunts and uncles. Thank you, Nana, for keeping all of my father's letters.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Elizabeth “Bessie” Cooper Pearson (1857-1938) Part 1

The Old Cooper Bible 
Bessie Cooper Pearson in New York City 1921

Aunt Bessie was our family historian of the nineteenth century. 

She was the sixth child, second daughter of Austin COOPER and Elizabeth GIBSON. I have a mystery about where she was actually born. 

She came to the U.S. in 1921, with the intention to visit several of her siblings to present them family heirlooms.

"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital image, ( : accessed 7 May 2017), Image 835 of 1107, Line 3, Bessie Pearson entry; citing List Number 14 of National Archives Microfilm Publication T715, Roll 2930; Ship Carmania out of Liverpool, Geo. W. Melson master, arrived New York on 28 February 1921.
I found her on the New York Passenger Lists departing on 19 February 1921, on the S.S. Carmania sailing from Liverpool, England, to New York, arriving on 28 February. She is typed on Line 3 of List 14. She was a 59 year old Widow. She was a Housekeeper who could read & write. She was living in Dublin, Ireland with her niece, Mrs. Barlow of  “12, Davenmore Rd, Withington.” Her final destination is typed in as Sedalia, Miss[ouri]. This is handwritten over with “NY New York.” On the second page, it states that Bessie does not have a final ticket for Missouri. She did self pay for her passage. She had at least $50 in her possession. This was her first trip to the United States. She was planning to visit her “Sister, Mrs. [Francis Cooper] Gearhard [Gearhart] of 509 N. Quincey Ave. Sedalia, Mo.”  Written over is her brother, my great grandfather, “Alexander Cooper on 413 488[th St.] Brooklyn, NY.” Bessie was in good health. She was 5’4” tall. Fresh complexion. Grey hair. Blue eyes. The most important statement is that Bessie stated she was born in Aldershot, England.

1901 Census of Ireland, County of Dublin, South Dublin, District Electoral Division (DED) Rathmines, unpaginated, Winston Avenue, household no. 560, John David Pearson; digital image, National Archives of Ireland, Census of Ireland 1901/1911 ( : accessed 7 May 2017).

In the 1901 Ireland census with her husband, John David PEARSON; they are both listed as Baptist, and Bessie is listed as born in the city of London, Middlesex. The 1911 Ireland census also states that Bessie as born in Middlesex county. This information was provided by her husband, David.

1911 Census of Ireland, County of Dublin, South Dublin, District Electoral Division (DED) Rathmines & Rathgar East, unpaginated, Charleston Road, household no. 37, John D. Pearson; digital image, National Archives of Ireland, Census of Ireland 1901/1911 ( : accessed 7 May 2017).
Referring to her father’s blog entry, Austin Cooper (1825-1883) was working as a booking clerk at Faringdon Station in April 1857 (70 miles east of London), at Maidenhead Station in June 1857 and Taplow Station in November 1857 (both 20 miles east of London). At the time of Elizabeth’s birth on 31 May 1857, her father is working in Faringdon!

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Collection: Great Western Railway Company: Staff Records; Class: RAIL264; Piece: 1. Book Title : 1835-1910 Clerks Vol·1. : accessed 9 March 2017.
According to the family Bible, Elizabeth Cooper was born on Tuesday the 31st May1857 at Faringdon Rail??? baptized by her grandfather July 185[?].” Could be a 7.

Cooper, Austin and Elizabeth. Family Bible Records. 1848-1868. The Holy Bible. [Cover page torn out.] Privately held by Mary R. Cooper. San Diego, California. 2005.
Aldershot, Faringdon, London (all within a 25 mile range)….geesh, where was Bessie born?

Her maternal grandfather, Rev. Alexander Gibson, must have baptized her in July 1857, as he resigned his religious position the following February 1858. Austin and Elizabeth, must have made a special trip home to Mullingar for her baptism knowing of the  conflicting circumstances for the Rev. Gibson. See future post on Rev. Alexander Gibson (1790-1863) Westmeath, Mullingar, Ireland - Part 1.

I also need  to find & order her birth record from BMD website.  I cannot find a Bessie, Eliza nor Elizabeth Cooper born around May 1857 in Faringdon in the index. 

Looking at the last two sources, written at the time of Bessie's birth, I conclude that she was born in Faringdon, Berkshire, UK. Her father with his family returned to Ireland by 1860.

Elizabeth was married to John David Pearson, on 4 June 1878, in Ballentemple, Co. Caven, Ireland.
Ireland Marriage Records. John David Pearson and Elizabeth Cooper. 4 June 1878. Quarter 2. Volume 3. Page 57. No. 83. Civil Registration Office, Roscommon, Ireland. Accessed 13 November 2008. 
To be continued...