Incoming correspondence to James Clarence Cooper from family and friends
Incoming correspondence to James Clarence Cooper from family and friends

Incoming correspondence to James Clarence Cooper from family and friends

Kentucky, Oregon, Washington: 1899-1940. Approximately 165 handwritten letters totaling approximately 400 pages in stamped, postmarked envelopes, ink & pencil. Some covers torn, worn, generally good and legible although a number of the letters in pencil are light. Collection of correspondence from family and friends in a lower socio-economic group to James Clarence Cooper, early known as "Clarence" and later as "James." He was born Dec. 17, 1885, in Somerset, Kentucky, to a poor farming family. Apparently left in the care of an aunt and uncle (Claude and Sarah M. Gover; Weddle & Gover, General Merchandise), he petitioned another uncle in Parkers, Oregon, to get him a job and send for him to seek his fortune out west. In 1899, the word came from Uncle Riley W. Swink that "I have gotten you a job at last" and the fifteen year old left for Oregon. About 15 of the letters dated 1899 are from uncles and aunts. Aunt Sarah Gover writes from Kentucky with advice; "a good education is the best thing a boy can possess except religeon (sic) if he has religeon and a good education he is prepared to both live and die." James Cooper has a brother named Fenimore (!), and sisters named Daisy and Elizabeth. Elizabeth marries at 14, has several children, and becomes a drain on his finances well into the 1930s with pleading, even threatening letters begging for money and diamond rings, usually claiming illness and lack of work for her two husbands. She later has her children write asking for money. In 1913, she affects her name to "Beth Wynona Cooper... so you can call me Beth from now on." A few letters are written from a fancy hotel in San Francisco. Her letters are a fascinating psychological subset and number about 60 in all. Another major component of correspondence from about 1914-1925 are from James' girlfriends (at least five in number), principal among them Mamie Greiner, a cook on a large ranch, whom he comes close to marrying. His sister Elizabeth strongly objects to his marrying a Catholic as "they are all mean." One has the sense that she really objects to his sharing his income with a wife. Mamie writes in 1916 about attending a lecture at Chautauqua. A letter written in 1923 recommending James for work as a postal clerk states that he attended high school, business college, worked as a railroad agent, read law, and has been admitted to the bar in the state of Oregon. James lived in Berlin, Portland, and Baker, Oregon from about 1900-1912, then in Seattle, Washington, through the 1930s. An interesting collection featuring the strivings and troubles of common folk from the turn of the twentieth century through the Depression. Item #54553

Price: $1,500.00

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