FEB. 14, 1852 - DEC. 10, 1920

Son of: John Jordan Cooper and Louisa Slay

1st wife: Elizabeth Reed

2nd wife: Louisa S. Bodiford


Father's page



Mose was the first child of John Jordan Cooper and Louisa Slay Cooper. Mose was born February 14, 1852 in Holmes County, Florida.


Mose married Elizabeth Reed on July 3, 1872 in Santa Rosa County, Florida.


Mose's and Elizabeth's first son, Henry, was born on Feburary 14, 1874 in Santa Rosa County. Henry was born on the same day as his father.


Mose's second son, Thomas Franklin Cooper, was born September 14, 1879 in Santa Rosa County.


Mose's and Elizabeth's first daughter, Sally Cooper, is born in August of 1881 in Santa Rosa County.


Mose and his family are listed in the 1900 Federal Census, Precinct #1 Milton, Florida, District 102, Sheet No. 13. This information doesn't conform to the other documented information that I have collected on him. Every census record has slightly different dates on everyone. This is very common. This census does show that Mose had three more children. Sally Cooper born in August 1881,  Archie Cooper born in January 1898 and Belle Cooper born in December 1898. The record indicates that he was a day laborer and that he was the only one in his family , at the time, that could both read and write.


Mose is one of the witnesses for his mother's (Louisa Slay Cooper) application for the homestead at Cooper basin.


Based on oral history, Mose died of a heart attack while he was in his boat on Cooper basin. Mose was recorded to have died on December 10, 1920 in Santa Rosa County, Florida. His final resting place is, based on his death certificate, says he is buried in the old Cooper Cemetery.


Based on what Della Adams Arnett remembers; her mother told her that her Uncle Mose was more or less a hermit that lived down at the river. Mose married twice and had at least five children by his first wife, Elizabeth Reed Cooper and two by his second wife.

What follows was submitted by Miles Davis Cooper to the Heritage Book publication titled "Heritage of Santa Rosa County, Florida" which recorded biographies of Pioneers of Florida and their descendants. The book was published in 2003. The following can be found on  page 228.

Henry Moses Cooper was the first of ten children born of John Jordan Cooper and Louisa Slay Cooper. He was born in Holmes County, Florida, on a cold day in winter, February 14, 1852. Known throughout his life simply by the name of Mose, his siblings were William Erasmus Cooper, John Robinson Cooper, James Fountain Cooper, Michael Raleigh Cooper, Daniel Jordan Cooper, Selimea Cooper, Thomas W. S. Cooper, Susanah Demmerrea Cooper, and Joseph Franklin Cooper.

During the spring of 1856, four-year-old Mose, his parents, younger brother William Erasmus Cooper, and grandfather, Washington Arnold Cooper, moved from Washington County, Florida, to settle next to a basin off the Blackwater River in Santa Rosa County, Florida.

On July 3, 1872, Mose married Elizabeth Reed in Santa Rosa County, Florida.  Mose and Elizabeth had five children during the twenty years of their marriage; their names were Henry, Thomas Franklin, Melissa, Sally, Vinie Louisa, and Jordan. When the flu epidemic of 1892 ran through Santa Rosa, Elizabeth and their first son Henry were among the first family members to die.  Others who died during this epidemic were his father, John Jordan Cooper; his brother William; his brother John's wife, Dorah Bloodworth Cooper; a nephew, Johny Cooper; and his grandmother Selimea Thompson Slay.

Mose had built his home next to the river and kept to himself after Elizabeth died.  His life changed in 1894 when he began to court a widow by the name of Louisa S. Boniford.  Mose and Louisa married on January 31, 1895, in Santa Rosa County, Florida.  A year later Mose and Louisa had their first child, Archie Moses Cooper, born on January 26, 1896.  Their second and last child, a girl named Belle, was born in December of 1898.

Mose was a very strong man from years of working in the timber industry. His arms were enormous from cutting and hauling trees down into Cooper Basin where they would be floated down river to one of the sawmills for processing.  Mose spent much of his time rowing his boat up and down the Cooper Basin.  Because of his strength, it was common to see Mose extend his arms with the oars and in one swift movement pull the oars back to send the boat rocketing through the water.

Henry Moses Cooper lived to the age of sixty-eight and died of natural causes on December 11, 1920.  Found in his boat on the Cooper Basin by his daughter Belle, Mose had died of a heart attack.  He is buried between his son Tom and his daughter Vinie in the old Cooper Cemetery, east of Milton, Florida.

For many years after Mose died there could be seen, during twilight, a mysterious sphere of light that would float up and down Cooper Basin where Mose had often rowed his boat.  It gave chills to many people who witnessed the phenomenon, and it was commonly believed that the light might be the spirit of Mose still rowing up and down the basin.  The mysterious sphere of light stopped appearing after Mose's youngest daughter, Belle, died.

Compiled by: Miles Davis Cooper, great grandnephew of Henry Moses Cooper. Updated November 2002