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Cooper, Arthur Byron (1850–1916)

Marisue Potts Biography Entry

A. B. Cooper, early settler and leader in Motley County, son of Dr. James and Elizabeth (Juryens) Cooper, was born in York, Pennsylvania, on July 25, 1850, and educated in Ohio. While serving as an army scout under George A. Custer, he camped on Tee Pee Creek in Motley County. Later, on his way back to Texas, he met and married a Swedish immigrant waitress, Anna Benson Nelson, on December 3, 1878, at Denver, Colorado. Cooper and his bride headed for Dallas, where they bought a team, a wagon, and household goods. By following the Rath-Reynolds Trail, a trail made by buffalo hunters hauling hides to market, they arrived at Tee Pee City, a thriving buffalo hunters' camp, in February 1879.

With Anna's savings, Cooper filed on land in 1879 and bought three sections of railroad land, the first survey in this area. He set up a general store in their dugout and in 1880 was appointed postmaster of Tee Pee City. When Cooper was away freighting, Mrs. Cooper served the cowboys and settlers; the buffalo-hide trade had gone with the buffalo. In 1882 the second of four Cooper children, Nora, became the first White girl born in the area. When Motley County was organized in 1891 Cooper was one of the first four commissioners. He served as a trustee when the Tee Pee City school was built in 1895 of rock quarried from the Cooper claim. Cooper went on bond for Sheriff Joe Beckham in 1891, but Beckham turned outlaw, and the Coopers lost their land in 1893. Anna Cooper fought the court, claiming that her money had purchased the land, and eight years later she was awarded the homestead. In 1898 Cooper, then forty-eight, left for the Klondike to prospect for gold, leaving the family to ranch, farm, and raise grapes for a living. He died at Cordova, Alaska, on November 25, 1916, and was buried at Sitka. Although Tee Pee City was deserted around the turn of the century, Mrs. Cooper remained at her old claim, where she died in 1932.

Harry H. Campbell, The Early History of Motley County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1958; 2d ed., Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1971). Eleanor Traweek, Of Such as These: A History of Motley County and Its Families (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1973).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Marisue Potts, “Cooper, Arthur Byron,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 12, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994
October 8, 2020