MAY 20, 1820 - JAN 11, 1892

Son of: Washington Arnold Cooper and Nancy Cooper

Wife: Louisa Slay


Father's page



John Jordan Cooper was born May 20, 1820 in Pulaski County, Georgia. John's father, Washington, was 22 year old and his mother; Nancy would have been 28 years old. During the time of John's birth, Pulaski County shared it's western border with the Creek Indian Nation and it wasn't until 1827 when John was 7, that the Creek Indians sold all their land in Georgia to the United States and moved to the Arkansas Territory. In 1838, when John was 18, federal troops rounded up the last of the Creek and Cherokee Indians in Georgia, that they could find, and forced them to move to the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. The federal troops used every means to move the Cherokee off their land, going as far as killing and burning the Cherokee out of their homes.


By the time John was ten years old his family had moved down to Thomas County, Georgia. The 1830 Federal Census for Thomas County, Georgia indicates that Washington and Nancy had one son between the age of 5 to 10 (this was John), two younger sons that were between the ages of new born to five years old and a daughter between the age of 5 to 10 years old. Sometime between 1830 and 1840, Washington had moved his family further south into Florida.


During the 1840 Federal Census for Jackson County, Florida we find John with his father, Washington A. Cooper, his mother, Nancy and his younger sister. I still haven't found his sister's name in any of the records. His two younger brothers are not recorded in the 1840 census. There could be a couple of reason: 1. Both of John's younger brothers died. 2. They were staying with another relative for the summer. His younger brothers would have been between the ages of 10 to 15 years old and would have been of great help farming for a needy relative.


The 1850 Federal Census list John as a 26 years old farmer born in Georgia, his father, Washington A. Cooper, as a 52 year old Millwright born in Georgia and his mother, Nancy Cooper, as being 58 years old and born in South Carolina. The census record's dates vary.


John Jordan Cooper married Louisa Slay sometime in 1851 in Holmes County or Washington County, Florida.


John and Louisa's first child, Henry Moses Cooper, was born February 14, 1852 in Holmes County, Florida.

Sometime between 1852 and 1855 John and Louisa moved their family to Washington County, Florida, perhaps to be closer to Louisa's parents, William and Selimea Slay.


John and Louisa's second child, William Erasmus Cooper, was born December 21, 1855 in Washington County, Florida.


During the month of May 1856, John and his family settled next to a basin off the Blackwater River, which today is named Cooper Basin. Their homestead encompassed the eastern portion of the basin, which gave them easy access to the river. Although we haven't located the exact spot were the house was located we do know that the Old Cooper Cemetery is located near the eastern border of the homestead property and that it appears the old stagecoach line cut through the southern part of his property.

Based on documentation we know that John Jordan Cooper was in the US Army and served in the Indian War. It is assumed that it was the second Seminole Wars. I have not found the detailed records of his involvement nor the exact dates. This is based on Santa Rosa County, Fl - listing of Veterans - Source: David Cody, Milton, FL The list shows: Cooper, John J. in Indian war, born 1820 died 1892


On September 25, 1867 John Jordan Cooper registered to vote in Santa Rosa County. He was voter #23 and his father, Washington A. Cooper, was voter #22. An interesting point is that Florida had just been reinstated into the Union after seven years. Source: Voter's registration for District 12 of Santa Rosa County.

John Jordan Cooper received a gubernatorial appointment to the Reconstruction Government in Santa Rosa County.


John was re-elected to the post of Commissioner in the Reconstruction Government when his term expired on November 2, 1868.


John was again re-elected to the Reconstruction Government on February 8, 1872


John J. Cooper was re-appointed to the Santa Rosa County Reconstruction Government by the Governor on September 1, 1874


John was re-elected, or possibly re-appointed to the Reconstruction Government on August 25, 1876


With the end of Reconstruction in Florida, John Jordan Cooper was removed from office on January 8, 1877, along with other prominent white Republicans: John A. McDuffie, William W. Potter, and Hannibal Rowe.


John and Louisa's tenth and last child, Joseph Franklin Cooper, was born. John and Louisa had ten children between 1852 and 1879. The last eight were born and raised at the Cooper Basin homestead.


John died during the Flu epidemic of 1892, which also took 2 sons, 2 grandsons, and 2 daughters-in-law. His final resting-place is in the old Cooper Cemetery near Cooper Basin, east of Milton, Florida.


Based on documentation, after the Civil War ended and Florida was re-admitted to the Union, John Jordan Cooper became a prominent member of Santa Rosa County's Reconstruction Government. To any die-hard Confederates, John Jordan Cooper was a "Scalawag", in the literal since of the word. Obviously he was very visible and no doubt that like other men of the Reconstruction, he stood for political reform, public education, a free market economy, and civil rights. The following is an excerpt from a letter I received from Nathan Woolsey a member of the Santa Rosa Historical Society. Nathan was a graduate student at the University of West Florida when he wrote to me. "Reconstruction in Santa Rosa County was relatively peaceful, in no small part because Santa Rosa in 1860 had been one of only three counties in the State of Florida to vote for Bell's Constitutional Union Party. More than half of Santa Rosa's registered voters believed secession from the Union was wrong, and wanted no part of it. Santa Rosa County was at the time, heavily industrialized with mills, shipyards, and a foundry; had no agriculture to speak of, and possessed fewer than a thousand slaves. Most importantly, the county was absolutely tied to a lumber export economy that would be completely stopped in the event of hostilities. And so it was. Unionists, who had led the county before the Civil War, stepped back in to lead it afterward. I'm certain John Jordan Cooper was one of these. Obviously, John Jordan Cooper, because of his subsequent role in Reconstruction, could swear that he had not taken up arms against the United States. Unfortunately, I don't know of his wartime movements and whereabouts. He may have fought with the US Army, here, or elsewhere; assisted in Union patrols; I've no idea. However with the advent of Radical Reconstruction in 1867, John J. Cooper did receive a gubernatorial appointment to the Santa Rosa County Commission, and was re-elected to the post when his term expired on November 2, 1868. He was again elected on February 8, 1872. John J. Cooper was re-appointed on September 1, 1874 and again elected, or possibly re-appointed on August 25, 1876. With the end of Reconstruction in Florida, John J. Cooper was removed from office on January 8, 1877, along with other prominent white Republicans: John A. McDuffie, William W. Potter, and Hannibal Rowe. The Democratic "Redeemers" pretty much locked up Santa Rosa's political machinery for them, thereafter. John J. Cooper doesn't appear to have ever held political office again."


In 1861 Florida seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. The story that follows is based on oral history.

"John Jordan Cooper fought on the Confederate side of the Civil War and that during the waning months of the war he had deserted like so many of the downtrodden solders. (It was symbolic at the time, if a deserter was caught, they would, shoot them in the back, not necessarily to kill him, but to remind everyone that this man was a deserter.) Sometime during the end of the war, a posse made up of a Confederate Officer and his solders rode up on horseback to John's house, located next to what is now called Cooper Basin, an had hollered, " John Jordan Cooper - are you in the house - if you are, come out! ". John being inside came out of the house and stood on the front porch followed by his wife and children. The Confederate Officer asked him, "Are you John Jordan Cooper?" and John's reply was, "Yes I am". The Officer then said, " You are wanted by the Confederate Army for desertion". John's reply was something like; Yeah, I did leave the Army, the reason that I left was because you know as well as I do that the war is over, you know that we've lost the war and this lady here (he pointed to his wife, Louisa) this is my wife and these are my children, somebody had to feed my family. The officer then looked at John Jordan and said, " I appreciate your feelings but I have a job I have to do - come down off of that porch and what I want you to do is, walk out through this hollow." John came down off the porch believing at that point, that they were going to shoot him in the back because of the symbolism. The officer and his men walked John away from the house into a group of trees and Louisa said that she could see the officer take out his pistol and point it into the air and fire. The officer then said something to his men like, "Dam - I missed", he then returned the pistol to it's holster and the men returned, mounted their horses and left, never to return."

NOTE: A descendant of the Thomas Jefferson Cooper clan told the same story to me, at one of the reunions. Their story didn't have our ancestor's names or the details but it was the same story. After the War, that story was probably told at some reunion of the Cooper clans and has been past down through several Cooper branches. I believe that Thomas J. Cooper was a cousin of our John J. and that the story was changed over the years and linked to our family, which is common for oral history. Stories will change and become more embellished over the years to make them more interesting. Based on documentation, we know for a fact that our John Jordan Cooper was never a member of the Confederacy and didn't participate in the Civil War on either side.