Marion County

Biography - Allen Cope

For nearly half a century the subject of this review was a well known resident of Marion county. He was a man of many talents, having been a successful lawyer for several years prior to 1861, at which time he located upon a farm in Tonti township and turned his attention to agricultural pursuits. He also became an enthusiastic student of horticulture and for many years was recognized as one of the leading authorities upon this subject in Southern Illinois, as well as a practical demonstrator of the same. He was one of the first citizens of Marion county to engage in the fruit business upon an extensive and systematic scale, developing one of the largest and most successful fruit industries in the pioneer history of horticultural pursuits in the county.

Allen Cope was born near New Waterford, Columbiana county, Ohio, August 4, 1827, where he resided until 1845. For nine years he resided at Salem, Ohio, where he was engaged in a mercantile business. In 1854 he came to Fairfield, Illinois, where he studied and practiced law with Judge Charles Beecher.

Owing to ill health he retired from the law in 1860 and the following year located upon a farm in Tonti township, Marion county, where he developed one of the finest fruit farms in the county. It was here that he passed to his reward, October 24, 1907, at the age of eighty years.

Mr. Cope's career as a horticulturist began with his removal to Marion county. He planted forty acres of apples in the springs of 1861 and 1863, a very large area indeed for that period. It is worthy of note, too, in this connection that he was one of the first to plant largely of the Ben Davis variety. This venture proved successful and as this orchard began to fail he planted again from time to time, and indeed his labors ceased only with the coming of his long rest. Mr. Cope was an active member of the State Horticultural Society and of its subordinate society, the Southern Illinois Horticultural Society.

He was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and was born and reared a Quaker.

Originally a Whig in politics and a strong abolitionist, it was but natural that he should become a Republican upon the birth of that party, and for many years he was an ardent supporter of its principles and an active worker in the ranks. In late years, however, he espoused the cause of Democracy, believing that the latter party adhered more closely to the principles of Lincoln Republicanism. Having been a lawyer of more than ordinary ability and always a student and an observer, Mr. Cope wielded no small amount of influence in his community and his opinions upon the leading questions of the day were always treated with great respect. He was a man of many sterling qualities, successful in business and influential in his community, and was also known as a public-spirited man of the most scrupulously honest type.

Mr. Cope was united in marriage at Salem April 16, 1856, with Miss Sarah A. Ray, who was born near London, Madison county, Ohio, June 30, 1834, Mrs. Cope being a daughter of Jesse and Helen (Warner) Ray. The Ray family was of English descent, the grandparents on the Ray side being natives of Virginia, who later settled in Madison county, Ohio. The Warners were of Scotch Irish descent, the great-grandfather of Mrs. Cope having been born in Dublin.

Jesse Ray, the father of Mrs. Cope, was one of the well known and highly honored pioneers of Marion county, having secured land from the government near Salem and locating thereon in 1839. He entered seven hundred acres of land in Tonti township, the present Cope home being a portion of the original grant. Mr. Ray developed and improved a good farm and became one of the largest and most successful farmers and stock growers in the county. He moved from the farm to Salem in order to give his children an education, where he operated a hotel and also engaged in merchandising, in the meantime carrying on farming operations. He finally returned to the farm, where he died August 27, 1859. Mr. Ray was one of those patriotic sons who participated in the Mexican war, having enlisted in 1847. He was with his regiment until the close of hostilities and experienced many hardships and privations in the long and tedious march across the desert to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and back again, every mile of which was covered on foot. He was a man of much sterling worth and influence in his community and accomplished much for the improvement and development of his section of the county.

Mrs. Cope was five years old when she came with her parents to Marion county. She attended the country schools and later went to Salem with the family, where she received a liberal education, having applied herself in a most assiduous manner to her studies. After her marriage with Mr. Cope, as above indicated, she resided in Fairfield, this state, for a few years where her husband was engaged in the successful practice of his profession. Since locating on the farm in Tonti township in 1861, Mrs. Cope has continued to make this place her home, where her children have also been reared. Their names are as follows: Laura Isbell and Lenora are both deceased; Walter Lincoln and William Abraham were twins, the latter dying in infancy.

Walter L. Cope, the only surviving child, was born May 27, 1864. He received a common school education and also attended the University of Illinois at Champaign for three years. June 6, 1888, he was married to Miss Anna Vaughan, of Odin township, Marion county, and seven children have been born to them, as follows: Allen, Bessie, Lorin, Leila, Howard and Margaret, all of whom are living. One child, Raymond, died in infancy. Walter Cope is a member of the Masonic Order at Salem and his wife affiliates with the Order of the Eastern Star at that place.

The Cope home is one of the finest country houses in Marion county, being commodious, comfortable and having modern improvements and conveniences. The house is heated with hot air. A system of water works has been installed, together with baths, etc. The furnishings are up-to-date and tastefully arranged, and this beautiful home is presided over with rare grace and dignity by the Mesdames Cope, who often show their unstinted hospitality in entertaining their numerous friends.

Extracted 06 Jun 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 304-306.

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