1726 TO 1802

The following was copied from "FOR WE CANNOT TARRY HERE", 
by Kirke Wilson, San Francisco, 1990.

(Pages 8 and 9)

At the same time that Culpeper County was being formed, the Cooper family was beginning to leave a record in county life.16  On August 23,1749, Lord Fairfax granted 400 acres of Culpeper County land to John Cooper.17 In March 1750, John J. Cooper was a witness to a land transaction in which Anthony Scott gave 105 acres of land to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Corbin. 18 In May 1750, John Smith sold part of his land on the north side of the north branch of Gourd Vine River to Abraham Cooper, a carpenter, for 25 pounds.19  In November 1750, John Cooper and his wife Judith traded 300 acres of the Fairfax land to John Smith in exchange for 300 acres on the south side of the north fork of the Gourd Vine River. The land on the Gourd Vine was adjacent to a line separating the property of John Smith and Abraham Cooper.20


In September 1752, Abraham Cooper was a witness when Anthony Scott gave 80 acres to his grandson Richard Burke.21  When Anthony Scott died in 1764, his will left his books to his son and his plantation and lands to his wife Jane. In the event that Jane Scott died, remarried or left the plantation, the son was to inherit the land and Scott's daughter Frances, the wife of Abraham Cooper, was to inherit other property. Each of Scott's two other daughters received one shilling. Francis Cooper was a witness when Anthony Scott's will was admitted to probate in 1764.22 It is unclear how John and Judith Cooper, Abraham and Frances Cooper and Francis Cooper are related except that they were landowners in the same Gourd  Vine River area of north-central Culpeper County and were involved in business dealings with Abraham Cooper's father-in-law Anthony Scott during the 1750s.


Francis Cooper and his wife, whose name is not known, established a household in Culpeper County in the early 1750s. In January 1756, Francis Cooper's wife gave birth to their first son Benjamin A. Cooper (1756-1841).23 Later that year, Francis Cooper served in the Culpeper  County militia. He was one of 53 foot soldiers in the company formed in March 1756 under the command of Lt. Col. William Russell and Capt. William Brown.24 Francis Cooper served  95 days with the Culpeper troops defending the Virginia frontier during the French and Indian War.25


In May 1761, Francis Cooper purchased land in Culpeper County from John and Elizabeth 

McQueen for 30 pounds. The land was in St. Mark's Parish and was located "on a stoney 

point corner to Richard Tutt, Gent. in John Yancey's line-in Alexander McQueen's line..."26  In addition to their oldest son Benjamin, Francis Cooper and his wife had several other children including a son Sarshel (1763-1815), as well as at least two other sons and several daughters including one named Betty, who married James Wood."  Francis Cooper continued to live in Culpeper County until the Revolutionary War and served in Lord Dunmore's War in 1774.


The Coopers in Tennessee

It appears that Francis Cooper did spend a period of time in Tennessee, but primarily 

in serving in the  militia during Lord Dunmore's War. (Pages 31 to 33.)

Francis Cooper, who had served in the Culpeper County militia during the French and 

Indian War, enlisted in September 1774 in Lord Dunmore's War. Along with Abraham 

Cooper, Archibald Scott and James Scott, Francis Cooper was among twenty privates

who served under Ensign Hendly Moore at Glade Hollow Fort during September 1774.22 

Indians raided the frontier settlements during September killing or capturing members 

of two families and destroying livestock. The troops in the forts pursued the raiders 

but were unable to recover any of the captives. Despite a chronic shortage of ammunition, the militia successfully held the frontier settlements during Lord Dunmore's  War. The militia served in the forts until the end of the war and the return of the Fincastle County militia.23

By the time Colonel Lewis and his army arrived at Point Pleasant on the Ohio River,

Cornstalk, the Shawnee Chief, had assembled a confederated army of approximately 

1200 warriors.  In addition to Shawnee, Chief Cornstalk was accompanied by braves 

from the Mingo, Wyandot, Ottawa and other tribes. During the night of October 9, 

Cornstalk and his warriors rafted across  the Ohio River several miles upstream and 

approached the Virginia encampment. The Indians were sneaking up on the Virginia 

camp when they were discovered by hunters sent out by the colonial troops. The 

hunters were able to alert the Virginians to form battle lines before Cornstalk and his

warriors attacked.24 One of the participants described the battle:


...a hot engagement Ensued which Lasted three hours Very doubtful 
the Enemy being much Suppirour in Number to the first 
Detachments Disputed the ground with the Greatest Obstinacey 
often Runing up to the Very Muzels of our Gunes where the[y] as 
often fell Victims to thire Rage...25

Without the advantage of surprise, terrain or fortifications, the battle was one of very 

few in which two groups of wilderness warriors, in this case colonial settlers and Ohio 

Indians, were evenly-matched. The battle raged most of the day with heavy losses on 

each side. Col. William Reming (1729-1795), the commanding officer of the Botetourt 

County militia was severely wounded at Point Pleasant. He reported,

We had 7 or 800 Warriors to deal with. Never did Indians stick 
closer to it, nor behave bolder, the Engagement lasted from half an
hour after [sunrise] to the same time before sunset. And let me add
I believe the Indians never had such a scourging from the English
before, they scalped many of their own dead to prevent their falling
into Our hands...we tooke 18 or 20 scalps, the most of them principle
Warriors amongst the Shawnese...26


Late in the day, the Virginia troops attempted a flanking maneuver. The Indians noticed 

the troop movement but mistakenly interpreted it as the arrival of reinforcements and 

withdrew from the battle.  Writing from the battlefield, a young Isaac Shelby respectfully described the turning point in the day-long battle and the stubborn resistance of the Indians,

The enemy, no longer able to maintain their ground was forced to 
give way...the action continued extremely hot, the close underwood,
many steep banks and logs greatly favored their retreat, and the
bravest of their men made the best use of themselves...Their long 
retreat gave them a most advantageous spot of ground...27


Many of the participants who wrote about the battle mentioned the bravery of the 

Indian warriors and, as if it were routine, admitted that the Virginians had scalped 

the Indians they killed. Capt. William Myles recounted,

I cannot describe the bravery of the enemy in battle.-.Their Chiefs
ran continually along the line exhorting the men to "lye close" and

"shoot well", "fight and be strong"...they fought desperately, I believe,
and retreated in such a manner as to carry off all their wounded...28
Capt. John Floyd, already a pioneer in Kentucky, wrote, about the Indians,
...they were obliged to give Ground which the[y] Disputed inch by
inch till at Length the[y] Posted themselves on an Advantagus piese
of Ground Where the[y] Continued at Shooting now and then until
night putt an End to that Tragical Seen and left many a brave fellow
Waltirring in his Gore...[our] loss of men is very considerable...29
By the end of the day, 75 Virginia colonists had been killed and 140 wounded 

in the Battle of Point Pleasant.30

Although the battle was a draw with neither side gaining advantage, the Indians 

withdrew to Ohio and began peace negotiations. Lord Dunmore, arriving after the only 

battle in the war that bears his name, marched his troops into Ohio and ordered Colonel 

Lewis to release the veterans of Point Pleasant to return to their homes. In the Treaty 

of Camp Charlotte, the Shawnee promised Lord Dunmore that they would cease all 

hunting east of the Ohio River, stop attacks on Ohio River boats and obey Royal 

proclamations. The Indians had held their own in the Battle of Point Pleasant but lost 

their traditional hunting grounds in the treaty that concluded Lord Dunmore's War.31

The Virginia militia that participated in Lord Dunmore's War in 1774 provided many of the officers for the Continental Army and state militia of the Revolutionary War. Col. Andrew  Lewis, who Lord Dunmore appointed commander of militia in 1774, was a brigadier general in the Continental Army which chased Lord Dunmore out of Virginia in 1775. George Rogers dark (1752-1818), a militia captain in Lord Dunmore's War, four years later was the commander of a small force of frontiersmen, many of whom had served  at Point Pleasant, who captured the British forts in the West.32 Daniel Morgan later distinguished himself in command at Quebec and the Battle of Cowpens while Isaac 

Shelby and William Campbell commanded frontier troops, many of them also veterans of Lord Dunmore's War, at the crucial Battle of Kings Mountain.


The Coopers in Kentucky (Page 68)

Beyond its military and political dimensions, the Revolutionary War was also a source of

change for many of the families it touched. Like other wars in United States history, the 

Revolution provided opportunities for young men to travel, learn about other places and acquire experience that would later prove valuable. For the Cooper family of Culpeper, Virginia, the Revolution was a period of dramatic change. They began the war living, as they had for a generation, in the settled rural community of Culpeper County. Francis Cooper had twice left his home to fight on the Virginia frontier but had, each time, returned to his family and farm in Culpeper County. In 1776, his son Benjamin followed his father's pattern by enlisting as a private in the militia of Washington County, Virginia where he served under Capt. Daniel Smith, Lt. William Bowman and Ensign William Cowen. For three years,  Benjamin Cooper was part of a ranger company patrolling and defending the frontier settlements on the Clinch and Holston Rivers of southwestern Virginia.36  In 1779, Benjamin Cooper was part of a company under Capt. John Duncan which was marched from Virginia to Boonesborough on the Kentucky frontier. In Kentucky, Isaac Ruddle replaced  Duncan as captain of the company with Col. John Bowman and Maj. James Harrod in command. The company patrolled the area from Boonesborough to the Blue Licks and the Forks of the Licking River. Cooper participated in the 1779 campaign against the Shawnee towns in Ohio and returned that summer to the fort on the Licking River, perhaps Smith's Station, which the ranger company had occupied. In September 1779, Cooper requested and obtained a furlough from Capt. Ruddle to return to his home in Virginia.37


At the same time Benjamin Cooper was traveling from Kentucky to Virginia, the Kentucky settlers were petitioning Virginia to establish a land office in Kentucky and issue land grants for settlers. In the hyperbole of the frontier, the Kentuckians explained,


"...exposed to all the Barberous ravages of inhuman savage, whose

savage disposition being animated by the rewards of Governor

Hamilton has enabled, them to hold up a constant war this four

years, which term has reduced many of us so low that we have

scarce cattle amongst us to supply, our small Family's and many of

us that brought good stocks of both Horses and cows, now at this

juncture have not left so much as one cow for the support of our

familys...many of our inhabitants both married and single, have

been taken by the Indians and carried to Detroyt others killed and

their wives and children left in this destitute situation not being

able as yet even to support their indigent family's...38  


The petition requested that Virginia grant the Kentucky pioneer "some compensation in Land for his loss, trouble and risk."39  In response to the pleas of the settlers, Virginia established the Kentucky land law in 1779 enabling pioneers to claim the land for which they were fighting.


It is unclear whether Benjamin Cooper's September 1779 visit to Culpeper County was planned as part of a family move to Kentucky but sometime that fall, in spite of the dangers, Francis Cooper and his family moved to Lincoln County, Kentucky with Benjamin Cooper.40  The Coopers were not among the 46 residents of Fort Boonesborough who petitioned for land under the new land law in October 1779.41 It is likely the extended Cooper family arrived in Kentucky late in 1779 or early the following year. Because he had been part of the militia in Kentucky in 1779, Benjamin Cooper is listed among the 627 "pioneers at Fort Boonesborough" whose names were inscribed on a marble monument erected at the site of the reconstructed fort in 1981. 42


The 1779 land law granted 400 acres and rights to 1000 additional acres to pioneers who

had raised a crop of corn in Kentucky by 1776. Settlers who arrived by 1779 had the right to purchase 400 acres at a nominal price. To adjudicate land claims, the governor of Virginia appointed a commission composed of Col. William Reming, who had been disabled since the Battle of Point Pleasant, Col. Stephen Trigg, who would be killed leading troops in the Battle at the Blue Licks in 1782 and two others. On January 29,1780, the land commission convened at Harrodsburg and, among several claims, approved the preemption claim of Benjamin Cooper for


...400 acres of Land at the State price in the District of Kentucky

on Account of Making an Actual settlem't in the Month of April

1779 lying on the South fork of Coopers run Waters of licking

Creek about 2 or 3 Miles above the forks of the s'd Coopers run

Satisfactory proof being made to the Court they are of Opinion

that the s'd Cooper has the right ot a preemption of 400 Acres of

land to include the above location...43 


The land commission issued a certificate for the 400 acres. It is unclear who paid the fees but appears likely that Cooper immediately sold the land on Coopers Run as the deed was delivered to William Williams.  Soon after his return from Virginia, Benjamin Cooper enlisted in the Lincoln County militia under Capt. Samuel Scott and Col. Benjamin Logan. In the Spring of 1780, the militia elected Benjamin Cooper lieutenant of Capt. Scott's company.44 In early 1781, the Country Court, the administrative body governing Lincoln County, recommended the names of several local settlers, including that of Benjamin Cooper, to the Governor of Virginia for appointment as militia officers.45


In addition to his service on the Virginia frontier 1776-1779 and Kentucky 1779-1780,

Benjamin Cooper also participated in the Battle of the Blue Licks and invasion of Ohio in 1782 as well as the Indiana campaign of 1786. In 1833, a 77 year old Benjamin Cooper living in Missouri recounted his service in an application for a Revolutionary War pension. To qualify under the 1832 pension law, Cooper had to show a minimum of six months service in the Continental Line, state militia or volunteers. He claimed continuous service from 1776 to 1782 and requested a pension of $320 a year based on his salary as a lieutenant of militia.


The War Department, unconvinced by the 1833 affidavit, requested additional proof of

Cooper's claims. Cooper's lawyer sent a sworn statement from Samuel Brown confirming that he had served 48 months, beginning October or November 1781 in Capt. Samuel Scott's Company where Benjamin Cooper had been the Lieutenant. In January 1834, the Pension Office denied Cooper's application explaining "it is hardly probable he could have been in service so long he should also have in mind the War of the Revolution closed the 30th of September 1780."46 Cooper and his lawyer responded by sending a sworn statement from Samuel Teeter confirming Cooper's service as a lieutenant in Ohio in 1782 and 1783.


Despite the earlier denial based on excessive service and the premature end of the war,

a year before Yorktown, the War Department reversed itself and approved an annual pension of $320 to Benjamin Cooper for Revolutionary War service.47 Many years later, the federal land office at Richmond allocated 2666-2/3 acres of land to ten surviving heirs of Benjamin Cooper "for his services as a lieut. in the Illinois Regt. for three years ending with the war." The military land warrant was originally approved in 1835 and issued to the surviving Cooper heirs in 1851.48  Benjamin Cooper appears to have been the only member of his immediate family who served in the Kentucky militia during the Revolutionary War. His father Francis Cooper, a veteran of the colonial militia in Virginia, arrived in Kentucky accompanied or followed by his sons Sarshel and Braxton.49 In addition to the sons of Francis Cooper who were early Kentucky settlers, at least one Cooper daughter was also a Kentucky pioneer. Betty Cooper married James Wood who built her a cabin in Kentucky. One day in 1783, Wood was away from his cabin overnight on a hunting trip. He returned the following day but, as he opened the cabin door, he was shot and killed by Indians hiding near the cabin. By the time Betty Wood was able to close and bar the cabin door, one of the Indians was inside. Betty Wood and her children fought the Indian until Wood's twelve-year old daughter grabbed an axe and killed the Indian. The widowed Cooper later married a man named Jesse or John Peak.50


By the time the Revolutionary War began to shift toward the colonist side, two generations of the Cooper family of Culpeper County, Virginia were settled on the frontier in Kentucky. Like many similar families, they were drawn by the availability of land and the opportunity to build a new community. They were beyond the settlement line proclaimed in 1763 by the British king and they were in a region that remained exposed to invasion by the British and their Indian allies. While the fight for independence was moving toward conclusion, the survival of Kentucky remained in doubt. As he had since 1776, Benjamin Cooper would continue to be called upon to defend the Kentucky settlements and assure their survival and growth.