The Edward Cooper Family
Mystery

We have been searching for the parents of my Grandfather, Edward Roy Cooper for many years.  I grew up hearing the stories as how he would never tell anyone about his family.  The few stories that he did tell did not turn out to be factual.  We had a few hints as to his family, but no real facts. 

My Grandfather first appears in Neosho Missouri in about 1903.  He is apparently working with my Great Uncle George Bryson on a construction project. Uncle George soon introduces his new friend to his sister Mary Artisha Bryson.  On June 27th, 1903 Edward Roy Cooper and Mary Artisha Bryson were married in Neosho, MO.  Ed and Mary lived in Neosho until sometime after 1906.  Ed worked as a Carpenter and Brick Mason.  By 1910 the couple and three children were living in Joplin, MO.   Ed had a very successful business as a building contractor.  He established an office at 213 West 6th in Joplin.

 

Mary Artisha Bryson and

Edward Roy Cooper

Their engagement photo in 1903, Neosho, Missouri

My father told me that they lived in a very nice house (lot 534 in Castle rock Addition) in one of the new housing developments in Joplin.  The housing addition was near an extension of the Trolley cars so that they could commute to downtown section of town.  The house is no longer standing.  It was during this time that the mystery began.

 

George Bryson was in a bar near the train station in Joplin, when a stranger ask if anyone there knew Ed Cooper.  George replied that Ed was his brother-in-Law.  The man indicated that he only had a short lay-over and would like to see his brother Ed.  George told the man to stay put and he would go get Ed.  George jumped on the Trolley and found Ed at home.  When told about his brother being in town, ED replied that he did not have a brother.  Sometime late George returned to the bar, but the brother had gone.

 

Years later I asked my Grandmother why she didn’t ever attempt to find out about Ed’s family.  She told me that he always said that he had no family.   There was also a story that he mentioned that he saw in a newspaper that his sister had passed away.

 

My Father said that on numerous occasions they had tried to get Ed drunk so that he would tell them about his family.  Each time he would tell them a story.  Each time it was different from the last story.

 

In the 1990’s I began researching my family genealogy.  At a family reunion I ask what was my Grandmother’s fathers name?  The obvious answer from my Aunts and Uncles was Grandpa Bryson.  It took me quite some time to establish that he was Pender Mack Bryson. I began piecing together my Bryson family, but I was always looking for any thing that might lead me to Edward Roy Cooper’s past.

 

Taking into consideration all of the stories, I began my search.  There was no help in looking for the usual sources.  Everything always came up empty.

 

Edward always said he was born on Dec 24 1872 in Columbus, Kansas so I went to Columbus and began searching.  No records of the Coopers could be found in Columbus, KS.

 

I began checking the US Census.  No records were found for 1880 or 1900.  (the 1890 census was destroyed).  There were some Kansas and Missouri odd year census, again no help.  I found the following US census information that Edward had submitted;

 

Census    Current  Year       State       Father    Mother

Year        Age         Born       Born       Born       Born

1910        31           1879       MO        MO        MO

1920        43           1877       IA           MI          MI

1930        56           1874       KS          WI          WI

 

Ed always said he was born on Dec 24 1872 in Columbus Kansas.  However as you can see the census information is all different, the age, the birth year, the state of birth and his parents’ state of birth.  I took these records and begun looking for Ed with those birth years, in those states and with parents that matched.  I have literally looked at 100’s of Edward Cooper’s, eliminating them one by one.  We spent lots of time on the road checking some of these men’s facts.  We have been all over Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.

 

In 2007 I had a very good prospect. I found an Edward that seemed to fit the picture. There were a few things that were a little strange, like his parents were German immigrants.  I thought we were Scots-Irish?  We traced his parents to Ellsworth, Kansas and documented his genealogy for several generations.  I was on the verge to announcing that the quest was over, but something just told me to wait.  Too many things just didn’t add up.  Several months went by and I was still looking for any tidbits that I might have missed.  Unfortunately I found where that this Edward had died and was buried in Texas.  This had exhausted the possible men with the census “facts”.  So my quest resumed.

 

Last year I took standpoint that all of those facts in the census were probably wrong.  I then widened my search to anyone born between 1868 and 1885.  I accumulated a list of every possible candidate and steadily I began to eliminate literally 100’s of Ed’s, Edward’s, E.R. and even Edwin’s.  I checked Cooper, Kooper, Copper and every spelling I could thing of.  I actually rechecked the list several times.  I eliminated everyone that I could.  In the end there was one Edward that I could never eliminate.  Go to page two for information on the new Edward Cooper.

 

For more information contact:

 

Bernie Cooper       bcooper@valornet.com

 

February 16, 2010

 

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