The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Letters to Editor

The Cooper: Place, Story Continues

Dear Editor,

I was delighted to read your story about the Cooper Place. My mother, Dorothy (Johnson) Bowen, was born there in 1920 and spent the first 8 years of her life there. 

She had many happy memories of the place. Based on what she told me, I can fill in some details about the history of the place and correct some of the folklore myths.

During the time my mother lived there, the place was owned by Lafayette Cooper, a wealthy attorney who lived in Burlington, Iowa. 

As your article noted, Mr. Cooper did not live on the Cooper Place.  My maternal grandparents, Carl and Helga Johnson did. 

Carl and his brother, Peter, were the hired hands who did the farming. My mother told me that the Cooper family rarely spent time at their farm, but when they did, they often brought guests and at those times, my grandparents and their older children functioned as servants. 

Since the house was owned by wealthy people, it had features not often found in farm houses in that area. There was a ballroom, where the Coopers entertained guests. There was an elaborate grape arbor with fancy wooden trellises. Of course the oddest thing about this farm was the tower.

This tower remained a mystery to my mother until she received a calendar sometime in the late 80s or early 90s which featured old photos of historical places in the western Illinois area. 

The Cooper Place with its tower was the photo for one month. The caption for the photo explained that the tower was a shot tower, where lead shot for rifles was made. 

The farm was owned by a river boat captain at the time of the Civil War. He was an agent of the Confederacy. He manufactured lead shot at the tower, then smuggled it to Confederate forces via his river boat. The calendar identified the captain by name, but I can't remember it now. I am fairly sure it was not Cooper.

It is interesting that the farm is known by the man who owned it in the 1920s rather than the man who built it prior to the Civil War. 

Perhaps the fact that the farm was involved in providing ammunition to the Confederacy made people in the area reluctant to identify it with the owner responsible for that. 

Many families in the area sent sons off to war, fighting for the Union. There must have been a lot of resentment toward someone using a farm in their area to support efforts that might have led to their sons' deaths.

Anyone who knew my mother well, heard about the Cooper Place from her. 

She did her part in keeping memories of it alive. I'm glad to see others are doing so, too.

Max E. Bowen

Neenah, WI

Being A Gladstone Neighbor

Dear Editor,

I've been from Gladstone my whole life. I grew up here, lived here when I got married and still live here as a divorcee. I couldn't imagine raising my kids anywhere else till now.

In the first of June I was looking to move back down to the "Bottoms of Gladstone". Up until this point Gladstone politics were laughable. Since the "Great flood of "08" the politics are EMBARRASSING. When I use to be proud of where I was from was pre-flood and there was still a sense of community. You may not of agreed with your neighbors, but you chalked it up to ones own opinion.

Post-flood we have lost our sense of community. Politeness has been taken over by greed. Greed has people forgetting what it means to help your neighbors, because that is simply what is meant to be. In my family, after the flood, we lost a total of three houses in the family, and numerous farms.

I can truly say seeing my childhood home and my grandparents homestead being washed away was sad and devastating. I couldn't explain the feeling of seeing my past 30+ years being washed away.

At that moment, watching my parents, grandmother and my aunt and uncles pain; I realized what a chapter this is and will always be as a part of our lives. I took comfort in the outpouring of kindness and support toward all of us. Support from our friends and family was overwhelming. The feeling we had will never be explained and I had a hard time explaining to my kids how grandpa and grandma Russell were so sad and great grandma had a grief that was hard to explain. There was nothing to say to sum up how we felt.

Support-means helping others. We saw this in so many ways and everyone was great. What happened? Six months after support has been replaced with; "you owe me", "I did this and you didn't do that", "who should have done what better", and sadly, "I didn't get, what you got".

Come on we are a community of neighbors, families and friends. When did volunteering to help a neighbor come with a price tag. I can see a price tag for equipment, but come on a price tag for generosity. I always thought the kindness of a person is helping others no matter how bad things are.

Yes, we had a flood but our lives move on and we keep going on. The flood may have moved some people away, but do they really want to come back to Gladstone? When community and neighbors can't work together, how are we suppose to be one.

One persons greed toward another has taken a lot away from our town. WE ARE AN EMBARRASSMENT. Grow up and get our acts together. We are still neighbors. I think it is time to decide if we are a community of 1, 10, 100 or more. We don't need to agree on everyone's choices. But are you really going to make me question raising my kids in Gladstone? I want my kids to remember the, "Great Flood of "08" as a phenomenon of Mother Nature, not as the flood that broke the town in half.

I keep remembering the sayings, "What doesn't kill me will only make me stronger" and "God would not do this to me if He knew I couldn't handle it".

This is not one mans battle, let's try to find our sense of community and support.

Some may think the water is gone, but the flood will always be a part of all of us. Just like the floods of "65 and "93, we will never forget them but we will move on.

I know not everyone may agree with me, but do we want to be embarrassed of our hometown.

We are named GLAD- stone. Are you GLAD of our neighbors and behavior?


Kara Russell Bigger