Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Finding July Cooper

I probably shouldn't say this too loudly (shhh!), but I've had a little extra brainspace over the past couple of weeks. And you know what I do when that happens!

Ever since I visited my mother's family's land in Georgia, I've been really interested in digging deeper into the stories of the Coopers who lived there and came before. So a good part of my evenings and weekends has been spent reviewing the records I already have, along with the family trees our Cooper family historians have previously put together and the memoir my cousin wrote, and then plotting how to find out more. That's resulted in a number of city directory listings and some useful World War II Draft Registration Cards, among other things.

I am ashamed, however, to say that it also resulted in a new census record, and one I definitely should have found before. You see, in 1880, my great-great-grandfather, July Cooper, Jr, was living in the 114th Militia District of Hancock County, GA. Living with him was his wife, Scoatney, written here as Sconey. You can see them highlighted in purple, below.

The young couple, listed here as 22 and 19 years old, are working as laborers while living in the household of the much older Andrew (83) and Silvy (69) Tucker, and their grandson, Freeman Tucker. What is the relationship between the Coopers and the Tuckers?

Maybe, I thought, I can find out more about the Tuckers - let's look for them in the 1870 census. Maybe this will give me a clue as to where July was in 1870, or why he's with them in 1880.

Well, I still don't ave an answer to the second piece, but now I definitely know where July was.

1870 U.S. Federal Census listing July Cooper, Jr as July Tucker and Living with Andrew and Silvia Tucker
in Hancock County, GA.

He's living right there in Hancock County, GA, with Andrew and Silvia Tucker! Age, location, and clustering of people absolutely makes sense - it's only the surname that doesn't. Why is he listed as Tucker? Perhaps there's a story there. Or perhaps the census taker or informant just didn't know any better. (And bonus question: Who is 9-year-old Sid or Sia Tucker?)

What's fun about this is that just a few pages away, you can see the young lady who would become July's wife, 10 years old to his 12, and living with her family. ( I make this assertion because her death certificate, completed by her son Flag, lists her parents as Solomon and Cherry Scott. We have nothing stating a clear familial relationship between July Cooper and the Tuckers, which is why I don't make a similar claim for them.)

1870 U.S. Federal Census listing Scoatney Scott - July's future wife - as Scodney Scott, also living in Hancock County, GA.

I won't continue to kick myself for not trying this sooner to find July in 1870. I'll just say that I am so happy to have found this record! Each piece of information I accumulate about the individuals in this generation  - ancestors who were born before the Civil War - gets me one step closer to learning more about my family's relationship to slavery in the United States. And while that will be a difficult journey, it's one I absolutely want to take.

Do you know anything about the Coopers - or Scotts - during the Civil War or before? Please share in the comments!