Thursday, November 20, 2014

52 Ancestors: #46 Malachi Cooper, 13 Year-Old Patriot

My fifth great-grandfather, Malachi Cooper, was barely 13 years old when he enlisted for service under General Nathanael Greene (who is also a relation of mine) in Guilford County, North Carolina.
Malachi was born on the 14th of April, 1762 in Pasquotank, North Carolina, to David Cooper and his wife Elizabeth Wilder.  Both Malachi and his father served in the War for Independence. Some Cooper descendants claim that the Battle of Cowpens was fought near David Cooper's plantation in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

"Battle of Guilford Courthouse" from Wikipedia
On March 15, 1781, Malachi fought at the Battle of Guilford Court House, a pivotal battle in the Revolutionary War's Southern Campaign. After two hours of intense fighting between General Nathanael Greene's forces and the British troops under Lord Cornwallis' command, Greene withdrew his weary soldiers.  His retreat preserved the strength of his army, while Cornwallis' frail victory cost him over a quarter of his men.  Cornwallis was later heard to say about the battle: I never saw such fighting since God made me.  The Americans fought like demons.

Although I don't know of any other battles he participated in, Malachi served in the militia for six more years.  At the close of the war, Malachi was still a young man of 20 years.  He made his way to Edenton, North Carolina, and there he married 17 year-old Anna Wilkinson.  The couple had a total of 12 children; all except one lived to reach adulthood.  Their eighth child, Anna Cooper Green, was my fourth great-grandmother.

Around 1795, Malachi, his wife, and their small children migrated to the new state of Kentucky. Malachi's younger brother Edward and his bride Susanna traveled with them.  According to a family history written by Clyde Toland, the Cooper clan made the journey by pack train, crossed Daniel Boone's Wilderness Trail, and settled in the foothills beyond Cumberland Gap.  Malachi and Edward are described as "a pair of tall, silent brothers."

Malachi Cooper served on the first grand jury in Pulaski County, Kentucky in 1797.  The jury returned indictments for retailing liquor without license, profanity, and gambling.  When the jury retired to consider their verdicts, they were compelled to go outside since there was no room to meet inside.

In 1806, Malachi was granted 135 acres of land on Fishing Creek.  As an ordained Baptist minister, Malachi Cooper established the Old Fishing Creek Church in Pulaski County and ministered there for many years. Two of his sons, Levi and James Cooper, also became Baptist ministers.

After the death of his wife in 1820, Malachi began to disperse his land holdings in Pulaski County. Records of these transactions are found in Pulaski County deed books.  In 1825, he "sold" 100 acres to his son Milton Cooper for $1 "in consideration of love and natural affection he entertains for his son."  However, two years later Malachi sold 235 acres of land to his son Asa, for $700.  (Pulaski County, Kentucky Deed Books)  I wonder why he practically gave land to Milton, but expected Asa to pay a substantial amount.

This is the only known signature of Malachi Cooper, an endorsement on a 1782 currency certificate.
Malachi's name has been spelled a number of ways: "Malleki" in his father's will, "Malikiah" in D.A.R. records, "Malikah" as a member of the Pulaski County grand jury, "Malekiaha" in probate records of his son Asa's estate, and finally as "Malicha" in a family history written by his grandson James Wilkinson Cooper.  Malachi himself signed his name as "Malicha." Perhaps this is how he spelled and pronounced it. However, he may have copied someone else's writing, since he signed other documents with his mark. I've decided to use the common Biblical spelling of "Malachi."

Malachi Cooper's monument erected by the DAR
Photo taken by James Arnold of the Daniel Guthrie Chapter SAR in June of 2006.
Malachi Cooper was living at the home of his grandson, Dr. Stanley Cooper, in Rush County, Indiana when he passed away in the fall of 1843.  (A few sources say he died in February of 1845.)

In the summer of 1978, a local DAR chapter erected a monument for Malachi and held a dedication ceremony at Pleasant Run Cemetery in New Salem, Rush County, Indiana. Unfortunately, his first and last name have been reversed on the plaque.  I have a copy of some correspondence that discusses the error. Some effort has been made to correct the mistake, but nothing has been done yet.  More than 30 years have passed since the plaque was installed, and I would really like for it to finally be corrected.  Malachi Cooper should be honored with an accurate monument.


  1. Thank you for this!! I am a descendant of Malachi Cooper's through Milton and James Wilkinson Cooper! My great great grandmother is Lottie May Cooper. I suppose, then, we are distant relatives! :)

    I have always known we had a Revolutionary War connection, but didn't have any details! Thanks again!

    Ashley Evans Heitschmidt
    Blackwell, OK

    1. You're welcome! I enjoyed researching Malachi and his family. I found a book about the Cooper family online that was written by a descendant of Malachi Cooper and I referenced some facts from that book. Perhaps you already know about it, but here it is if you want to take a look.

      There is a long chapter about James Wilkinson Cooper. Thanks for reading! :)

  2. Thank you for sharing this! Malachi and Anna (Wilkerson) Cooper are my 5x great-grandparents.

    1. Nice to connect with another Malachi Cooper descendant! Thanks for reading!

  3. Malachi and Anna Wilkinson Cooper are my 4x great grandparents. Their son Milton and his wife, Charlotte Carter Cooper, who eventually emigrated to Texas are my 3x great grandparents. Thank you for the information!

    1. I'm glad I could connect with another Cooper descendant! I did not know his son's family ended up in Texas. Thanks for commenting!