William Fletcher Copes is a son of Robert Teal and Mary D. (Tharp) Copes. His father, born September 10, 1799, was a native of Maryland, and the mother, born January 16, 1808, was a daughter of Kentucky. The parents were married in Zanesville, Ohio, and moved to the site of the present city of Pekin. Here Mr. Copes engaged in making hats, but shortly took up farming in Sand Prairie Township, afterward removing to Bloomington, where for two years he operated a hat-manufacturing establishment. He subsequently returned to Pekin, where he died in 1844, the death of his wife occurring in 1892. Mr. Copes’ grandfather, Robert, lived to the advanced age of one hundred years and six months.
The subject of this sketch, William F., was born near Bloomington, then a part of Tazewell County, September 20, 1828, and educated himself during his leisure moments. He was sixteen years old at the time of his father’s death, and was left as the supporter of his mother, five brothers and four sisters, for whom he continued to provide until he was twenty-one years of age, when his mother again married. Mr. Copes purchased land just south of the old homestead, and there he continued to reside for forty-four years, when in 1895 he moved into Pekin and retired from business life. He is a member of the Methodist Church. in which he is a steward and has been for forty years class-leader.
Mr. Copes’ first Presidential vote was cast for John C. Fremont, and he has since been an energetic worker in the Republican ranks. He was elected Justice of the Peace to fill a vacancy and held the position for five years; has been Deputy Sheriff for sixteen years, under T. C. Reeves and Edward Pratt: was Town Clerk of Cincinnati Township for ten years; Constable for a quarter of a century. and is a Notary Public. Socially, Mr. Copes is a Royal Arch Mason, having joined that fraternity in 1873, and also belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has taken all the degrees. When the Old Settlers’ Society was organized in I885 he was elected its Secretary and Treasurer, and still retains those offices.
On October 30, 1851, Mr. Copes was united in marriage to Miss Mary Woodrow in Tazewell County, and the following six children were born to them: Laura A., deceased: Clara E.; Ira 0.: Mary A. and E. Adeline, both of whom died in infancy, and Ella A., wife of Charles Abbott. Mrs. Copes was a daughter of Hugh and Amanda (Swindle) Woodrow, and was born October 30, 1843. Her death occurred October 30. 1903, and she was buried on the anniversary of her birth, October 30. 1903. The maternal grandparents of Mr. Copes were Jacob and Phoebe (Weimiers) Tharp. Mr. Copes has eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Tazewell County - page 989
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