Monday, March 12, 2018

World War II Letters - 22 October 1943 - Written by Stan Cooper

Stan has received the paperwork needed to return for his studies. We find him in Bainbridge, Maryland, as a student, for one semester up to May 1944 to obtain his high school credit for a diploma. This is the only letter I possess written during this time period.

He mentions his opinion about the military standards he has to put up with as a student. Does he not know about these with his experience so far in the Navy! "If I can stand the regulations and petty penalization of everybody, I have a chance of getting through. There are times when I honest[ly] and truly get disgusted with the whole set-up." 

He is thankful that he can come home every other week if he keeps his grades up.

From his records, I find Stan onboard the USS Leyte from May 1944 to January 1945 serving on a west PAC stationed from California. 

USS Leyte (ARG-8), later USS Maui (ARG-8)was a Luzon-class internal combustion engine repair ship that saw service in the United States Navy during World War II. Named after Leyte Island in the Philippines, she was the second U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name LeyteAfter training in the Chesapeake BayLeyte sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, on 3 October 1944 for Pacific duty. She reported to Commander Service Force 7th Fleet on 26 November at HollandiaNew Guinea. Here she became a repair ship for assault ships. She was renamed the USS Maui on the 31 May 1945. 1

1. Wikipedia (,"USS Leyte (ARG-8)," rev. on 1:12, 14 May 2017.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Doris Eileen Cooper Powers 1918-2012

Doris Eileen Cooper Powers is one of my first cousins once removed. Her father, Edwin Irwin Cooper, was my grandfather's, John Carrick Cooper, younger brother. I met her back in 1997 when I first started having an interest in family history and genealogy. I knew her brother, John David Cooper or Jack Cooper as my parents kept up the relationship with Jack and his family. After contacting Jack about what he could tell me about his family history; he introduced me to Doris. 

Doris and I were voracious bi-monthly letter writers (sometimes weekly). She was just as fascinated with family history as I was in this hunting down of our past.

She was so generous in sharing her stories and photos. She and her brother wrote out detailed biographies for me which were the best Christmas presents ever!

We were fortunate to meet together four times. Once where I live in California and twice where I traversed the 530 miles to their home in Arizona. Doris and I also flew into Salt Lake City to spend a week together researching our family histories at the local Family History Library in 2003.



Doris was born on 25 February 1918 the first child of Edwin Irwin Cooper and Edith M. Richter in Englewood, New Jersey. Doris explains that her “mother had trained there and her older sister, Louise, was the head nurse.” Her parents were living in Brooklyn, New York. Doris and her mother returned home as soon as they could. Three years later, John David “Jack” Cooper was born. Their father was a projectionist in the Palace Theater, 1564 Broadway at 47th Street, which showed silent films several blocks away from their apartment building at 413 48th Street. Around 1925, her father was well into the technical experiments that would bring sound to film and he would be picked up by Warner Brothers and sent to Hollywood to further this development. Seven-year-old Doris was placed with a local family so Doris could continue her education at a nearby elementary school. The family with her younger brother moved on to Hollywood with stops on the way in major cities for Edwin to instruct motion picture projectionists in the new sound movie technology. 

Doris states, “For a while, I missed the matinees at the Palace because they were for children, and besides the film and noise, there were drawings on the stage for what seemed desirable toys, and thanks to Dad, Jack and I usually held a handful of what we hoped would be winning tickets. And sometimes they were. The sidewalks of New York City were the best in winter, when the city’s snow plows made big piles of snow and we could slide down them on our sleds."

In time, the family sent for Doris and she and her brother were enrolled in California schools.

Their father died ten years later in 1935 at the age of 46. 

Doris was in her senior year at their local high school. Her father’s well-meaning friends, to help out her widowed mother, found her a job at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. Doris reminisces, “I took a crash course in shorthand and put aside my plan to go on to college. You don’t learn shorthand 
that quickly, but how was I to know; until I got the job.” The job lasted eight months. She had little to do and spent her lunch hours walking over to the sound stages to watch movies being made with famous people like Alice Faye and Jack Oakie.

Jack Cooper, Bruce Powers, Doris Cooper Powers with mother Edith Richter Cooper.

Doris was also dating a friend of her father’s and his co-worker. David Bruce Powers, fifteen years older,  proposed and they were married in the Little Church of the Flowers at Forest Lawn in 1936 not far from where her father was buried. Bruce and Doris built a home not far from her mother and brother. In 1941, when WWII was getting closer, Bruce graduated from MIT, as well as commissioned as a Second Lieutenant (his reserve status) at the same time making him ready when he was called to serve in the war.

"California, County Marriages, 1850-1952," database with images, FamilySearch( : 8 December 2017), David Bruce Powers and Doris Eileen Cooper, 21 Oct 1936; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 2,113,996. Accessed 12 Jul 2015.
Bruce’s first orders were to Oregon State College, to join the faculty as Assistant Professor of Military Science and Tactics. Doris happily states, “We packed and left Eagle Rock looking for adventure. I was especially relieved to put miles between me and my mother-in-law. My own mother got suffused  with the war spirit, in spite of her age and tried a series of war-related jobs until she found one that she could manage, that didn’t cut her hands up on an assembly line that moved too fast.”

The group of officers at Oregon State numbered about ten, as in the regular army, men and their wives form a single social group doing everything together from “playing poker to pot-luck picnics.” Doris soon realized that she could start her own college education at Oregon State and enrolled as a student. The Japanese struck Pearl Harbor three months later on 7 December 1941. Bruce and the other officer co-workers were ordered away. Doris stayed on for two years completing her studies. By 1943, Bruce was in South Carolina, outside Charleston, having developed a camouflage school, for training the hundreds of military personnel sent there. He was furnished commercial artists, architects, engineers, and other creative workers to develop a successful training academy. Doris joined  her husband that summer to see the result of Bruce’s hard work for the war. 

Bruce encouraged Doris to continue with her education. She applied to several eastern women’s colleges to transfer to so she could finish her undergraduate work. She had many good responses, but she herself chose Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Weeks later, during the end of the summer of 1943, she packed up and caught the train for Wellesley, stopping off in New York to visit aunts and uncles and cousins on both sides of her family, whom she had not seen in over ten years.

Doris states, “New England was all new to me. The college campus turned out to be a heady layout of spreading lawns, groves of trees, rhododendron bushes, all disposed along the shores of the lake that, in fact, we would skate on in the winter. I observed right away, my education there was all business and very demanding as it should be.”

Doris graduated in 1945 when the war was winding down. FDR died. Germany capitulated and later in the year so did Japan. Bruce was assigned to negotiate an arrangement by which RCA in Camden, New Jersey, would supply a military unit in Maryland with its electronic needs. Doris found a job with RCA in the Red Seal Record Division where she worked contentedly among low-keyed music graduates and high-powered advertising people. She worked with great music of the day; yet, she and Bruce missed Southern California. Bruce was transferred back to Los Angeles. The couple moved back to live with Bruce’s mother, Eddis Powers at 1359 Hill Drive (2 miles from Doris’ mother).

Doris desired to return to studies and possibly try teaching. She entered Occidental College to work for a Master’s Degree. After she graduated, the Korean War started and Bruce again was drawn back into service. He was assigned first to the Engine Inspector-General’s office in San Francisco. They took an apartment just off the campus in Berkley. Bruce was sent off to various fronts including Korea and Taiwan.

Doris moved up to a Teaching Assistantship for a couple of years, as a Research Assistant to several faculty members busy on their own scholarly research. Doris shares some tidbits that she was so thrilled about in her research. “One of them was collecting the tunes to English and Scottish folk ballads and saw the collection come out in a beautiful edition from Princeton University Press. Another was translating a medieval manuscript by an English monk, into English, editing it by comparing it with as many other copies on tape as he could lay hands on. The day came when he slowly realized his copy on microfilm, like all the others, was a copy of the original, which was in the Vatican Library. What a moment, in the dim little microfilm room in the University of California Berkley library!”

During this time, Doris decided to go for her Ph.D. at the University of California Berkley. She applied and was accepted. She got into her studies with requirements to pass reading exams in Latin, German and French. She also studied with the English department being examined over the whole field of both English and American Literature. Then came her dissertation which she completed in 1964.

By the late 1950’s, Doris was getting tired of being a perpetual student, preparing for teaching, and Bruce with retirement around the corner, they made their first international trip. She was particularly fond of Europe and Asia. Bruce ordered a VW to be delivered to Cologne as they sailed from New York. They drove all over Europe, as everything there was to be explored. 

In one of her letters written to me, Doris tells me of a time when she and Bruce were in Asia, “We had seen your parents [Stan and Martha] in Manilla sometime in 1959, I think when we were coming back from Europe by way of the Far East. The French line we were on docked there, and I guess we made arrangements beforehand for them to meet us there. They came on board for lunch or dinner and a lot of talk. We went on to Hong Kong, and waited quite contentedly there for a month or so for the freighter that would take us to San Francisco.”

From San Francisco, they arrived in Phoenix for Doris to start teaching at Arizona’s State University’s English Department for the teaching job she had written ahead for. 

Doris states, “Thus began a twenty-year experience with the business of educating the next generation; a happy but rather a sad one, as students came from high schools to college knowing less each year about the language and the literature that was their heritage. I was appalled, by my twentieth year on the job, to see the focus of some of the young  people in my classes so wholly preparing  for a vocation in, say, the business world, that the idea of a university as an introduction to the cutting edge of all knowledge was really in the way, and a required course in, say, the humanities an annoyance. But though, the number of English majors fell off, I was able to keep on teaching those who wanted to be one; and that was nice, especially as I taught works in my favorite period, the English seventeenth century when the modern age was coming into view.”

“I’d left Berkley with my dissertation still to do, and the General Exam to prepare myself for. I spent one long summer, 1964, in the carrels of the UC library, and presented myself at its end, and passed the exam. I was much diverted by the student riots on the campus, that drew in frenetic sympathizers from San Francisco and Oakland and elsewhere. It was very moving to me to watch the faculty members try to be sympathetically fair in hearing the student’s charges, while one kept remembering that the students were students and only very partially educated for the role of judging adults in a practical world, though they were entirely persuaded that they were entirely right.”

She found a good research topic for her dissertation. She had acquired a grant from the University of California for a summer at Duke University and another grant at Oxford. She completed her goal and emerged with her Ph. D. Her triumph was capped when Mouton and Co., the esteemed European publisher of scholarly books, asked to publish her dissertation. 

During this time, Bruce, in his retirement, had started to study the Russian language also at the  Arizona State University, in the Foreign Languages Department, in the same building on the floor below where his wife studied. He persisted and completed the coursework for a Major in Russian, and gained a second degree, to go with his MIT in Civil Engineering. While studying, he was impressed by the great number of irregular verb forms there were in the language, he planned a pamphlet-length dictionary, which he worked on during Doris’ teaching career. 

By the time Doris officially retired from the university in 1980, Bruce started on a challenging project of translating a “modern” Russian novel, Two Winters and Three Summers by Fyodor Abramov, into English, which had not been done. They worked on this project together, Bruce would make the literal translation and Doris would turn it back into literature. In 1984, a publisher of Slovak works in Ann Arbor, Michigan, printed the novel.

They were able to spend more time together what they both loved to do. They spent their summers in the southern Colorado Rockies for the twenty years of Doris’ teaching. The rough terrain was getting more difficult for Bruce to handle. They were offered a two and a half acre piece of land in Show Low, Arizona, next to her brother’s twelve and a half acres. They built their retreat. Bruce was only able to spend one summer there. His mind was fully capable but his body was wearing down. He fell and broke his leg which was the start of his decline. At the age of 94, Bruce died on 5 May 1998. He wished to be buried in a military cemetery. Doris chose Ft. Bliss of El Paso, Texas, as he had spent his whole boyhood there and cherished those memories. 

Doris settled her estate and sold their home near the University, said goodbye to friends and neighbors to move to Show Low where she planned to spend the rest of her life with family, her brother, Jack. She got involved with her local women’s club as a civic duty for the good deeds they planned for the community.

This is around the time I was introduced to Doris, via Jack, in the late 1990’s, with my interest and curiosity in my family history. I was so blessed to be able to communicate and visit my cousins several times.

Doris’ brother, Jack, died on 11 Mar 2011. He struggled with health issues including cancer. His ashes were buried on his property. 

Doris had a stroke in early 2012. She and her family decided it best for her to move to a care facility. Doris returned to me many of the genealogy documents I shared with her in the past 15 years. She wrote her last letter to me a month before she died on 29 Oct 2012. I miss her and our times sharing our love of history, especially the one we shared.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Marian Frances Cooper 1871-1923

Marian Frances Cooper is the youngest of the fourteen known children of Austin COOPER and Elizabeth GIBSON  in their 20 plus years together. She was born on 6 Nov 1871 in Galway, Ireland. Her birth location was Eyre Square directly across from the town’s railroad station. Austin was promoted to Superintendent of the Midland Great Western Railway.

Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, "Civil Records," database with images, ( : accessed 15 June 2017), image, birth registration of Marian Frances Cooper, (6 November 1871, Galway) citing Group Registration ID 11710438; registration filed 6 May 1872 by Edward Connidine, Deputy register, page 283, stamped no. 02198154, entry 351.
Her first sibling to marry was Alexander Sisson Cooper (my great-grandfather) in Dublin in 1875. Did the family travel for his wedding? Another brother, Henry, was also wed in Dublin in 1877. Two older sisters were married including Bessie in Ballintemple, Cavan, Ireland, 1878 and Mary in Killeshandra, Cavan, Ireland, in 1881. In 1883, her father, Austin, died in Bellananagh, Cavan, Ireland. So sometime between 1871-1878, Austin was moved to Co. Cavan from Galway.

Bessie Cooper Pearson’s (her elder sister) obituary shares the answer as to what happened to Frances after her father’s death (1883) and her mother’s travel to the United States (1884). Frances “made her home with Mrs. Pearson in Dublin, Ireland for about seven years before coming to America at the age of 19.” Aunt Bessie was very involved with the Baptist Church in Dublin.

Mrs. J.W. (Bessie) Pearson obituary. Sedalia Weekly Democrat, 2 Dec 1938, p.5, col. 4. on Accessed 18 Mar 2015.

I find “Maria” F. Cooper on board the S.S. City of Richmond leaving from Liverpool to New York City on 28 April 1890. The columns mention her age of 18, her sex as Female, a Spinster from [erased?], Ireland destined for Texas on line 1175. Image 115 of 735. She is traveling with her brother-in-law, John D. Pearson (married to Bessie), seen on line 1174. He is Male Age 39 a Clerk from [erased?] Ireland for Texas (see below).

"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital image, ( : accessed 15 June 2017), Image 115 of 735, Line 1175, Maria F. Cooper entry: citing List Number 555 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M237, Roll 547; Ship City of Richmond out of Liverpool, Francis S. Land master, arrived New York on 28 April 1890.
Three years later, Marian Frances is found in Galveston Co., Texas, marrying Fred Marion Gearhart on 23 Feb 1893. Fred Marion Gearhart was born 1 Jan 1870, in Osceola, St. Clair, Missouri.

Fred and Frances are found in the town of Wichita in the Kansas State Census of 1895. They have an 11-month old son, Frederick Irwin Gearhart (1894-1990) born in Houston, Texas. This states that Fred is a captain with the Salvation Army. This leads me to newspapers. I find the Gearharts mentioned in two articles about “the Salvationists” coming to the town of Waco, Texas, in the late summer of 1893.

By 1900 the Gearhart family is settled in Sedalia, Pettis, Missouri. Fred is a wood-dealer. They have their son and a daughter, Joy Muriel Gearhart (1896-1984), born 26 March 1896. A second daughter, Bessie Edna Gerhart (1902-1976), was born 25 Dec 1902. 

Elizabeth Gibson Cooper obituary, The Sedalia Democrat. Tuesday, May 2, 1905. page 3.,  col. 3. on :  accessed 12 Feb. 2015. 

The three grandchildren were happy to see their grandmother, Elizabeth Gibson Cooper when she came to town to visit her youngest daughter in 1905. Elizabeth Gibson Cooper died on 1 May at the age of 77 in Sedalia, Missouri. Grandma Cooper is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Sedalia. I find her tombstone on Find a Grave (only front side is shown).

Find a Grave, datebase and images ( accessed 02 Feb 2018), memorial page for Elizabeth Gibson Cooper (19 Apr 1828-30 Apr 1905), Find A Grave Memorial no. 146443552, citing Crown Hill Cemetery, Sedalia, Pettis County, Missouri, USA; Maintained by andrea (contributor 48069374).
Fred and Frances’ youngest daughter, Juanita Zephyr Gearhart (1906-1944) was born the following year on 28 Oct 1906.

By 1910, Fred tried general farming in the Dresden Township. 

In 1920, Fred is a delivery trucker living in the neighboring town of Sedalia. 

On 14 Dec 1923, Marian Francis Gearhart died of apoplexy or a stroke contributed to hypertension in Sedalia, Missouri. She is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.  She is listed as "Francis Marion Gearhart." Her husband, Fred Marion Gearhart is the supplier of the information on her death certificate. Her birthdate is 5 Nov 1871. He states her birthplace as County Galway, Ireland.  Her father is Austin Cooper, born in England (Ireland). Her mother is Elizabeth Gibson born in Scotland (Ireland).1

Find A Grave, database and images ( accessed 13 July 2017). memorial page for Frances Marian Cooper Gearhart (1872-1923), Find A Grave Memorial no. 77193350, citing Crown Hill Cemetery, Sedalia, Pettis County, Missouri; the accompanying photograph by Diana is materially informative,

I have covered her parents in past blog posts proving their birth locations to be Ireland. Their family heritage includes England and Scotland.

Fred died 32 years after his wife. He died of heart failure on 9 July 1955. He is buried alongside his wife at Crown Hill Cemetery, in Sedalia, Missouri. His daughter, Joy M. Gearhart Hopper gave the information for his death certificate. His parents are listed as Virgil M. Gearhart and Carolina Roberts.2 

1. Pettis County, Missouri. Death Certificates. Death Certificate #37163 (1923) Francis Marion Gearhart; Missouri State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.  Missouri Digital Heritage. Death Certificates. : Accessed 23 Nov 2015.

2. Pettis County, Missouri. Death Certificates. Death Certificate #23121 (1955) Fred Marion Gearhart; Missouri State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.  Missouri Digital Heritage. DeathCertificates. : Accessed 23 Nov 2015.