OLIVE C. CHANDLER COOPER
My great-great grandmother
Wife of Edward Bryant Cooper
Mother of Edward Lee Cooper
THE LIFE OF OLIVE C. CHANDLER
© 2018 by Caroline Cooper Olson
OUR CHANDLER ancestors speak to us through the mists of time by their names, their faces in old faded photographs, and fascinating stories about their lives ~ uniting us across the generations as a very special family.
I’m pleased to share a story about my paternal great-grandmother, who was Olive C. Chandler, born 9 May 1859 in Cambridge, Story County, Iowa, the daughter of Sereno Chandler and his wife Laura Tillotson. Olive is a direct descendant of Ichabod Chandler.
Lineage: Ichabod Chandler (1762-1838) had a son named Josiah “Little” Chandler (1792-1868) whose son was Sereno Chandler (1826-1898), whose daughter was Olive C. Chandler (1859-1928).
Olive C. Chandler was named in honor of her paternal great-grandmother Olive Fish who was married to Ichabod Chandler. Olive’s middle initial C. probably is for Catherine, the name of her paternal grandmother, Catherine Prior, who was the wife of Josiah “Little” Chandler.
It was Josiah Chandler who persuaded relatives and several friends to travel across country in 1855 to settle in the wilderness of Iowa. Josiah Chandler founded a new township that he named Cambridge in the center of the state. Early settlers included Josiah’s son Sereno Chandler and his wife Laura, who traveled from Maine in a covered wagon to make a new home in Cambridge.
Olive’s father Sereno Chandler was a landowner, farmer and served as a Private in the Iowa militia during the Civil War. Of special interest is that Olive is a direct descendant through her Chandler ancestors to Mayflower passengers John Alden, William and Alice Mullins and their daughter Priscilla Mullins who arrived in America in A.D. 1620 from England and founded Plymouth Colony.
Olive’s mother, Laura Tillotson, was a true pioneer woman who faced many hardships and challenges as she raised eight children while also caring for her three younger siblings. I traced Laura Tillotson’s ancestry back to Richard de Tilston, born circa A.D. 1040 in either Normandy, France or England. Laura Tillotson was also a direct descendant of kings in England and royalty in Wales, a distinction passed on to her daughter Olive Chandler and Olive’s descendants.
Olive has been described by relatives as very pretty, with warm blue eyes, a gentle nature, kind, with a sweet sunny disposition, and bright. She was well educated, knew the important social graces, and learned how to cook, entertain, manage a household and large family by helping her mother.
When Olive was 14 years old, she met her future husband. He was Edward Bayne Cooper, age 23, tall, handsome, and already a successful businessman. Edward was born in the village of Freethorpe in Norfolk, England on 13 October 1850. At age 5 he sailed with his parents, siblings and their servant girl across the treacherous Atlantic Ocean, a dangerous voyage with icebergs floating in the shipping lanes between England and North America.
Edward grew up on a large farm near Lake Ontario in New York. He was taught a strong work ethic, Protestant values, and was very intelligent. He received an academic education in New York, then journeyed west to seek his fortune, settling first in Cambridge, Iowa. There, he established a lumber business and livery stable and became acquainted with the Chandlers, who were the most prominent family in Cambridge.
A few years later, when Olive was 17, Edward Cooper was impressed that she was the young lady he wanted to marry. He asked her father for her hand in marriage and Sereno Chandler approved of their engagement, but insisted Olive should wait until she was 20 to marry.
Land opened to early settlers in the new village of Adrian, Nobles County, Minnesota, about 400 miles north of Cambridge, and Edward Cooper saw the opportunity. While his fiancé Olive taught school in Cambridge, he moved to Adrian where he prospered by raising livestock. Edward often returned to visit the Chandler family in Cambridge, and on New Year’s Day ~ January 1, 1880, he and Olive were married in a beautiful ceremony.
The happy newlyweds settled in Adrian, Minnesota. Nineteen days after their wedding, Edward and his bride received 80,000 acres of land in Nobles County, Minnesota. The land purchase was documented in the History of Nobles County, Minnesota, page 220.
Edward also owned the Olive Branch Stock Farm, named to honor his beloved wife Olive, that consisted of 160 acres, situated a quarter mile south of Adrian. It was fully stocked with purebred Galloway cattle, Shire and Standardbred horses, and Shropshire sheep. I saw an ad on the front page in the Homestead newspaper dated March 6, 1891 that described Edward Cooper’s Olive Branch Stock Farm as “Importers and breeders of pure bred stallions and mares – Percheron, Clyde, Shire and French coach stallions and mares from the best families in Europe. They are also winners of twenty-three First prizes in Europe and America, which is a guarantee of individual merit and soundness.”
Percheron, Clydesdale and Shire horses are enormous, powerful animals, used as war horses and for pulling heavy loads, much in demand at the time.
Olive’s husband Edward provided well for his wife and family. He bought a section of land at Adrian “on which he built a beautiful home which occupies one of the most prominent and picturesque sites in the city,” to quote the description in the Biographical History: Nobles County, Minnesota. Edward, a very strong, energetic man, also planted shade trees, a fruit orchard and large vegetable garden to provide for his family. It was an ideal place for Edward and Olive to raise their eight children, out in the fresh country air, close to nature. Old black and white photos show the family in front of their Victorian three-story mansion.
Olive Chandler Cooper was proud of her husband’s ability to prosper in their family businesses. History books recorded that, “Edward Cooper, one of the most extensive stockmen of Nobles County …. is one of the largest horse, cattle and hog buyers and shippers in southwestern Minnesota.” His family also owned several hundred acres of land for grain farming, and stores in Minneapolis.
Olive created a comfortable, cozy home for her husband and family of four sons and four daughters. She was talented with needlework, and known for her charity work helping others in the community and was active at church. She decorated her home with beautiful furnishings, including original Tiffany stained glass lamps that have been passed down in the family for decades, along with other antiques.
As the wife of a powerful businessman, Olive Chandler Cooper was a gracious hostess who entertained important dignitaries, relatives and friends with elaborate dinners in their formal dining room. The 1900 Census shows that Olive and Edward had a live-in servant girl who helped Olive with household chores.
Olive was 47 years old when she gave birth to her eighth child. She and Edward brought up their sons and daughters to “not boast about themselves, to not talk about private family matters to others, to be humble and always do the right thing, to be clean and neat, and to show generosity to others.” They and their children were described as “bright, with a witty sense of humor, intelligent, strong-minded, enthusiastic, friendly, and their sons were tall with blue or gray eyes, and handsome. Their daughters were very pretty, with gentle eyes and light hair, and were aristocratic, elegant, well-mannered, and knew the social graces,” like their mother, Olive.
Edward and Olive, always ready for new opportunities, moved the family to the boomtown of Great Falls, Montana by 1915. He built a spacious two-story home with six bedrooms in town, and claimed homestead land for a cattle ranch. Eventually, Edward’s family owned thousands of acres of land in Montana for wheat farming and grazing cattle and real estate investments that benefitted their sons and daughters and descendants.
Olive Chandler became acquainted with the famous Western artist, Charles Marion Russell, whose home and art studio were four blocks north of the Cooper home. Olive purchased several of his oil paintings showing the frontier life in the Wild West. I recall four of Charles Russell’s paintings hanging in our home when I was a child that were passed down in the family.
Edward Bryant Cooper owned several properties in Great Falls, including a tavern where he and his friends sometimes met for a friendly game of poker. One evening in 1921, the stakes were very high and Edward won 9,600 acres of land near Amarillo, Texas. Two years later, he discovered oil on that land which greatly increased the wealth for himself, Olive and their eight children and their descendants. The Cooper oil wells continue to pump “black gold” today – 95 years later – and many members of the family receive monthly royalty checks.
My family’s lineage includes Olive’s and Edward’s son named Edward Lee Cooper, who is my grandfather. He was born 22 May 1884 in Adrian, Nobles County, Minnesota and died December 1972 in Dallas, Texas. He married Mabel Corrine Stenson, born 27 August 1891 in Spring Valley, Minnesota and died 27 December 1970 in Great Falls, Montana. Their son Lee Edward Cooper II is my father, born 29 March 1916 in Great Falls, Montana and died 5 April 2004 in Arkansas. Lee Edward Cooper II married Emma Rose Jones, born 7 November 1921 in Denver, Colorado and died 18 October 1994 in Phoenix, Arizona. I am their daughter – Caroline Cooper, born in January 1941 in Denver, Colorado and was married to Dr. Dennis Olson. We have two sons, Stephen and Darren Olson and a grandson, Brennan Christianson.
My great-grandmother Olive C. Chandler Cooper passed away quietly on 26 August, 1928 at the age of 69. She was gently laid to rest in Great Falls, Cascade County, Montana. Olive is remembered as a lovely, gracious, kind, gentle, elegant, spirited and aristocratic lady who loved God and her family. She remains highly regarded by all who knew her.
Edward Bryant Cooper died at age 90 on 27 January, 1941 and lies buried beside his beloved wife, Olive in Great Falls, Montana. Their legacy of love and devotion to their family lives on. ❖
Thanks to Caroline Cooper who sent me this story. Its nice to get stories about our Chandler ancestors. If you have a story about your ancestor and would like me to publish it please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org