James Polk Copeland (1845 - 1914)

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Place of Burial: Marion, Williamson, Illinois, United States
Birthplace: Vienna, Illinois, United States
Death: Died in Marion, Williamson, Illinois, United States
Managed by: Michael Copeland
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About James Polk Copeland

In 1859 James P. Copeland began work in the office of the Johnson County Enquirer, the first paper printed in the county. The following year he left Vienna to accept a place on the Union Democrat at Anna, Illinois, and he remained there until the beginning of the Civil War.

When troops were called for he enlisted in Company E, Sixtieth Illinois Regiment of Infantry, mustered into service at Anna, Illinois. The regiment reported to Cairo under General Pope. After Island No. 10 and New Madrid were taken, General Pope’s division reported to General Grant at Shiloh. In the siege of Corinth, Pope defeated the Rebels at Farmington, Mississippi.

When Corinth was taken, the Sixtieth was assigned to the Army of the Ohio under General Palmer. This division went to Tuscumbia, Alabama, thence to Nashville, Tennessee. There it participated in the rout of the enemy.

In November 1862, after the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, the Army of the Ohio became the Army of the Cumberland. The regiment was attached to the Fourth Corps and after the battle of Stone River was sent to the Tullahoma, Chickamauga and Chattanooga campaigns.

At Chattanooga the army was again reorganized and the regiment became part of the First Brigade, Second Division, Fourteenth Army Corps. After the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge and the march to relieve Burnside at Knoxville, Tennessee, the regiment went into camp January 2, 1864, at Rossville, Georgia. In Feb., it re-enlisted and was sent home for thirty days’ rest.

Before starting home, it was engaged in the first battle of Buzzard Roost, Georgia, Feb. 26, 1864. In May 1864, the second day, the command moved out on the Atlanta campaign. On the Dalton road the Sixtieth Illinois was in advance and met the outpost of the enemy at Ringgold, Georgia, pressing them back over Taylor’s Ridge toward Tunnel Hill. Here the real service of the campaign began and the Sixtieth Illinois in that campaign saw service at Buzzard Roost, Resaca, Ezra Church or Burnt Hickory, Kenesaw Mountain, Marietta, Peachtree Creek, Jonesboro, and many other less important actions.

In all these engagements, Mr. Copeland did his full part. Enlisting as a private, he was promoted to non-commissioned offices until June 1863, when he was commissioned lieutenant. He was described as single with blue eyes, light hair and light complexion, a native of Vienna, Johnson county. His occupation was listed as printer. He was discharged at Atlanta, Georgia, September 23, 1864. He was captured once, but was soon back in line, and was wounded at the battle of Dallas, Georgia, May 30, 1864.

When he returned to civilian life, Mr. Copeland resumed journalistic efforts in his hometown, and eventually became the editor and publisher of the Johnson County Journal, his first independent venture. Then he chose Marion, Illinois to establish a Republican paper, the Marion Monitor in 1874. In 1887 it was merged and the Leader was given birth, the first daily in Williamson county. After one year Mr. Copeland became editor and owner. He sold the Carterville Tribune in 1898 but continued to conduct the Marion Leader until 1901, when he sold the plant to O.J. Page.

He was loath, however, to abandon the quill, and presently the Record, another Republican weekly, appeared. One year later it too was taken over by Mr. Page, since which time Mr. Copeland has been engaged in the cultivation of plants and flowers within the city on a plot of ground which he acquired when it was a part of the country outside of the present city of Marion, but of suburban development. There he conducts what is known as the Marion Greenhouses, and does a thriving business as a dealer in plants, bulbs, seeds, cut flowers, and as a producer of much of his marketable stock.

Mr. Copeland has been twice married. His first marriage occurred on January 15, 1865, at Vienna, Illinois, when Miss Louisa Washburn became his bride. She was a daughter of one of the Washburn families of Kentucky of historic name, but the exact branch is not known. Mrs. Copeland died on February 22, 1896. She was the mother of three children: Benjamin F., Addie and Ida. Mrs. Copeland was active in the Methodist Episcopal church. Her mother was a Dean, numbered among the pioneer settlers of Illinois, and she was thrice married, her last husband being Colonel John G. Hardy, lieutenant colonel of the One Hundred and Twentieth Illinois Volunteers. He died at Memphis, Tennessee, February 28, 1864. The heroic mother passed away one month after the death of her husband.

Mrs. Louisa Copeland was born in Metropolis, Illinois, September 4, 1847. There she remained until after the death of her father. Her mother married her last husband (Col. Hardy) and located in Vienna, Illinois, when the Civil War began. Five of the family enlisted in the Federal army. The mother, three daughters and a baby boy remained at home, where they too had the battles of life to contend with. Fortunate for Mrs. Copeland she was blessed with a kind spirit and a responsive heart to the calls of the needy. She never turned the hungry from her door with out bread nor failed to administer to the distressed when she could be charitable and energetic. She overcame many difficulties. With an abiding faith in the Christian religion she was ever hopeful. When death entered the home and called for the little daughter, she mourned not as those who have no hope. At last, when the shadows of the evening of life were gathering around her, she calmly looked her husband (James P. Copeland) in the face and said in the light of the other shore “I am better now,” and the spirit returned to the God who gave it.

In October 1896, Mr. Copeland married Mrs. Minnie Lilley Brooks. She is the daughter of Boston Lilley, of Union county, Illinois, a successful farmer of that district and for twelve years a teacher in the public schools. He was born in Union county, Illinois, September 24, 1854. The Lilley family have been residents of Kentucky for many generations back. The mother of Boston Lilley was Nancy Worley Reed. The Worleys were prominent southerners. Her brother, Willis Worley, was a member of the state legislature of Tennessee. Mrs. Copeland’s ancestry is of the French Huguenot, Scotch-Irish and Dutch nationalities. Boston Lilley was educated in the public schools of Union county, and he was one of the first to attend the Southern Illinois Normal University at Carbondale. He was particularly successful as an exponent of the pedagogic art during his twelve years’ experience in that branch of work. He died December 6, 1886, while a teacher, as well as being an active farmer, and was still a young man when he passed away. He was a kind and genial gentleman, beloved bay all who knew him, and his loss was poignantly felt by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

The mother of Mrs. Minnie Lilley Copeland was Hannah North, of Jackson county, Illinois, whose parents were natives of Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The Norths were a prominent English family, and in this country many of the family were teachers of note.

The mother of Hannah North was Sarah Hutchinson, of Tennessee.

Mrs. Copeland was born April 22, 1873, in Union County. She was married May 4, 1900, to Mr. William L. Books, of Union county, Illinois and has one son by her first marriage: Raymond Harrison Brooks born February 4, 1891. He is a member of the Copeland household. He is a student and teacher, as was his mother, she having taught seven years before she assumed the duties of home and family.

Mrs. Copeland was candidate for county superintendent of schools for Williamson county in 1898, and made a splendid run for the office, failing to win at the primaries by a very small majority. Mrs. Copeland is a member of the firm conducting the Marion Greenhouses, having been actively engaged in the work for the past eleven years. The greenhouses were established in 1901. She is a faithful member of the Methodist church, and has taught a class of young women in Sunday school for the past seventeen years. She is also active in temperance work, and is a hearty supporter of votes for women.

Mr. Copeland is an Odd Fellow, a Pythian Knight, and like his wife, is a member of the First Methodist Episcopal church of Marion, and is a member of the board of trustees of that organization.

Mr. And Mrs. Copeland have one living son, —John Wallace, born December 16, 1902; their first child, Emory Allen Whittier, born September 17, 1897, having died on January 29, 1899.

OBIT (Feb. 19, 1914). James P. Copeland, former publisher of the Marion Leader and a leading journalist, passed away at his home on South Court street at the age of 68. He had suffered for ten days from pneumonia and toxemia. He was survived by his wife and ten-year-old son, John, at home, another son, B.J., of Little Rock, Arkansas, and a daughter, Mrs. Jas. Strike, of Wichita, Kansas.

Described in a letter to Michael Copeland from Vivian Copeland (circa 1986): "Mr. Copeland (James P.), your Great Grandfather retired, built a huge potato storage house that connected with greenhouse and stored potatoes. [Idaho?] and sweet for farmers, then raised sweet potato [slips?] for planting. He finally wore out and died of pneumonia, there on Court Street where Fox Flowers shop is—that was their home."

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Article: Marion Green Houses Source: Unidentified Williamson County publication

The Marion Green Houses were established in 1901 by James P. and Minnie Lilley Copeland, his wife. Mr. Copeland died February 19, 1914, his name being retained in title of firm as a memorial.

James P. Copeland served in the Union Army with honor, being mustered out with rank of lieutenant, September 23, 1864. He was the founder and for over thirty years editor of the Marion Leader. His editorials in support of Republican principles were read by a large constituency and widely copied.

He died a member of the K. of P. and I.O.O.F. lodges, the Grand Army of the Republic, and trustee of the Methodist church.

He was postmaster from 1881 to 1885 and was a faithful and painstaking public servant. When Lieut. James P. Coplenad was called to final muster, Marion lost one of its most desirable citizens and his name will be handed down to future generations as one of Williamson County's most patriotic, honest and industrious christian men.

Mr. Copeland's first wife was Miss Louisa Washburn of Vienna, and his father was Judge Samuel Copeland, also of Vienna.

Minnie Lilley Copeland bought the entire Copeland estate, assuming control November, 1914. She is a tireless worker, honest and fair in all her dealings and a gifted artist.

The designs and floral work of the Marion Green Houses are complemented throughout southern Illinois, Mrs. Copeland having been taught special work by an Eastern artist of note at much expense.

She was born April 22, 1873, Union County, Illinois. Was educated in the public schools and southern Illinois Normal and taught school seven years.

Her father, Boston Lilley, a farmer and teacher, was a man of marked refinement, well educated, industrious and a deep thinker, of pleasing address. The entire community mourned his demise in 1886.

Mr. and Mrs. Copeland were blessed with six children, Ida and Whittier, dying young, and B.F. Copeland, editor of Polk County News, Tryon, N.C.; Mrs. Addie Strike, Toledo, Ohio; Raymond Brooks, Chicago; and John Wallace of Marion.

It has often been said of Mrs. Copeland that she never spent an idle moment, often doing public work. She taught a class of young women twenty-one years in the Methodist Sunday school, resigning on account of war and business.

Her motto is "Time is a beautiful and valuable gift in trust."

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James Polk Copeland's Timeline

1845
September 24, 1845
Vienna, Illinois, United States
1865
January 15, 1865
Age 19
Vienna, Illinois, United States
1896
October 21, 1896
Age 51
Vienna, Illinois, United States
1902
December 16, 1902
Age 57
Marion, Williamson, Illinois, United States
1914
February 19, 1914
Age 68
Marion, Williamson, Illinois, United States
1914
Age 68
Marion, Williamson, Illinois, United States