Just as with any business, there is a history. Where it all started, how it started and how it became who they are today. Long before the first "Welcome to Cooper Music" ever chimed the ears of a piano buyer, the history of the Cooper Family began. For the next few months, I will share with you, every Friday a special blog, containing the history of the Cooper family and creation of Cooper Music. We hope that you enjoy reading as Cooper Music is brought to life with memories.
JOHNATHON COOPER AND SELINA HOWELL IN WALES
Born 1857 in Bristol, England, in 1871 the 14 year old Johnathon Cooper was sent to live with his aunt Louisa in Wales. After the early death of his father, his mother Mary James Cooper and her sister Louisa James Howell Turner agreed it would be better if he lived with Louisa who would be more able to look after Johnathon. Widow Mary’s husband had been a merchant-draper in woolen and linen goods. His addictive influence on Johnathon and the family was not acceptable to Widow Mary, especially on Johnathon. He was moving about Bristol city woolen and linen trades as Bristol Jack, errand messenger, a life style Mary feared. The decision to move Johnathon turned out to be a most propitious life style for a young man destined years later to be a founder of Cooper Music.
Selina Howell: Was born in 1860 on Rhondda Road, Llanonno Township, Glamorgan County, Wales. Selina’s birth father Lott Howell, an agricultural laborer, sadly also died early, an alcoholic. Her mother Louisa remarried neighbor William Turner. Louisa Howell Turner knew her diminutive red haired daughter (13) Selina was a strong willed talented young girl. Her stepfather William Turner, a coal mine timekeeper foreman, was kind but equally strong willed. Selina was required to carry out her work duties, even sent out at night to tend the railway switch. However, Louisa and husband William were rearing Selina in a religious and Welsh culture that was a positive and valuable education. When Johnathon arrived from Bristol England in 1871 he too found expanding horizons under the guiding positive influence of Louisa and William Turner.
This was a period of cultural and religious affirmation in England. During this revival chapels were being built every week in Wales. There were hundreds of chapels seating thousands of people in the Rhondda Valley home of Louisa and her family. They were involved in many social activities. There were chapel choirs, bands, drama and poetry groups, local and district competitions known as eisteddfodau (eisteddfods). The estedfod can be traced back to 1176 when the first one was held. There were grand gatherings to which were invited poets and musicians from all over Wales. Titles were awarded to the best poet and musician, a tradition that prevails to this day. There were also yearly “Walks and Processions” and singing festivals called Gymanfa Gani (Gamanfigany). The chapel and Louisa’s and William’s, Christdelphian Church held strict beliefs. With heavy involvement in the Religious and Temperance Movement, teenagers Selina and Johnathon made a life- long abstinent and religious commitment. Dressed in their Sunday best, Welsh chapel and Church were the highlights in the drab, foreboding coal mine life of Selina and Johnathon.
Johnathon Cooper (14) was expected to go to work as any young Welsh boy in his working class. Mine foreman and stepfather William Turner helped him start, leading ponies and mules in the mine. By the time Johnathon was twenty, over six feet tall, he had grown to be a strong, experienced, and skilled coal miner. By 1879 in America the booming coal mining industry, short of experienced men, was actively recruiting in Wales, offering double the pay and free steamship passage. Johnathon and Selina announced two life-changing decisions: Together they were going to America and as husband and wife!