Hon. Job Adams Cooper, governor of Colorado, 1889-91, was born near Greenville, Bond County, Ill., and is a son of Charles and Maria (Hadley) Cooper, members of old English families. His father, who was born at Maidstone, County Kent, England, forty miles south of London, was a son of Thomas Cooper, a paper manufacturer of Kent County, who came to the United States late in life and died at Yolo, Cal., when eighty-nine years of age. Charles was one of a large family of children who eventually came to America. He was educated at Maidstone and at the age of fifteen crossed the ocean on a sailing vessel, settling in Newark, N. J., where he learned the carriage manufacturer’s trade. At the age of twenty-two he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he engaged in the lumber business. It was there that he married Miss Hadley. Removing to Illinois in 1840, he became a pioneer of Bond County, where he improved a valuable farm and continued to reside until his death, in 1865, at the age of fifty-nine years. Fraternally a Mason, he was active in the work of his order. He was a firm supporter of Democratic tenets. During the war he was loyal to the Union and assisted in raising troops for the Federal service. His wife died at fifty-nine years of age, and of their seven children, five of whom reached maturity, only two are living, Thomas Cooper, of Morgan County, Colo., and Job Adams Cooper.
Job Adams Cooper was educated at Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., from which institution he was graduated in 1865, with the degree of A. B. Three years later the degree of A. M. was conferred upon him by his alma mater. While a student in Knox College, in May, 1864, he enlisted, with many other students, in Company C, One Hundred and Thirty-seventh Illinois Infantry, Capt. B. M. Veatch, and served until mustered out in the latter part of the same year. He was stationed near Memphis when the Confederate general, Forest, made his memorable raid.
In Galesburg, Ill., September 17, 1867, Mr. Cooper married Miss Jane O. Barnes, daughter of Rev. Romulus E. Barnes, one of the early Congregational home missionaries of Illinois. She, too, is identified with that denomination and has done much work of a benevolent nature. She was educated in Rockford Seminary in Illinois, and is a lady whose culture makes her a valuable acquisition in the most select social circles. The four children that comprise the family are named as follows: Olivia D., wife of Edwin S. Kassler; Mary Louise, Mrs. Lucius S. Storrs, of St. Paul, Minn.; Charles J., a graduate of Knox College, class of 1897, and now engaged in the real-estate business in Denver; and Genevieve P., a graduate of Ogontz School, near Philadelphia.
On completing his literary studies at Galesburg, Mr. Cooper began to read law with Judge S. P. Moore, at Greenville, and in 1867 he was admitted to the bar, after which he opened an office for practice in Greenville. In 1868 he was elected circuit clerk and recorder of Bond County, which position he continued to fill until he resigned, on coming to Denver in 1872. He arrived in this city May 14, and was admitted to practice at the bar here September 1, 1872. Forming a partnership with A. C. Phelps, as Phelps & Cooper, he gave his attention closely to his law practice. Afterward, for about two years, he was interested in a fire insurance agency, but retired from the insurance business in order to accept a position with the German Batik (later the German National Bank of Denver).
During the early years of his residence in the west, he was interested in the stock business, buying cattle in Texas and feeding them on Colorado ranches. Sometimes he shipped as many as two trains full of cattle a day from Brush, on the Burlington Railroad. The advent of settlers, however, caused him to retire from the business.
During the years that followed he became known as a keen, discriminating financier and public-spirited man. His circle of acquaintances increased, and his influence waxed constantly greater. The esteem in which he was held and the prominence which he had attained made the choice of his name by the Republicans for the gubernatorial chair a most happy selection. He was elected by a majority of ten thousand (which was considered large at that time) over his Democratic opponent, Thomas M. Patterson, of the Rocky Mountain News. He took the oath of office January 1, 1889, succeeding Governor Adams at the expiration of the latter’s first term. He had never been a partisan politician, and, although always a stanch supporter of the Republican party, he had not actively identified himself with party matters; however, he was well known throughout the state as a successful, honest, progressive and efficient business man, and it was the desire of the party to have such a man fill the executive chair.
On his retirement from the office of governor, he accepted the position of president of the National Bank of Commerce, and this he filled successfully and ably until 1897, when he resigned; since then he has devoted his attention to the management of his large and valuable property interests in this state and to mining at Cripple Creek as a member of the Tornado Gold Mining Company. In 1868 he erected, on the corner of Grant and Colfax, the elegant residence where he has since (and especially during his term as governor) entertained with a lavish and genial hospitality. In 1891 he began the erection of the substantial block known as the Cooper building, which is situated on the corner of Seventeenth and Curtis streets, and which, in its interior finish, is surpassed by no block in the state.
During Governor Cooper’s term the superstructure of the magnificent state capitol approached completion. He has been a member of the state board of capitol managers for six years, and yet holds that position. During his term the state also made a notable advance in mining, stock-raising and commerce. The commonwealth reached the climax of its development and attained a prosperity never before enjoyed, and indeed, dreamed of by few. The World’s Fair preparations were being made while he was at the head of the government, and he took an active part in arranging for a representation of Colorado at the Fair that would do justice to the industries of the state.
As an executive official he was conservative in judgment, never hasty in his decisions, but firm in carrying out any given course of action when once decided upon. He possessed a sagacity sound, well defined and trustworthy and was a man of profound foresight. Having made a study of constitutional law, he was well versed in the principles of wise statesmanship and public policy, and was admirably fitted to stand at the head of the greatest state in the mountain regions of the west.
Source: Portrait and biographical record of Denver and vicinity, Colorado : containing portraits and biographies of many well known citizens of the past and present : together with biographies and portraits of all the presidents of the United States.. Chicago: Chapman Pub. Co., 1898.