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IDLE THOUGHTS OF AN IDLE FELLOW

 BY

ONE WHO WOULD TALK ABOUT HIMSELF

Rice Harris Cooper, D. D.

 Dallas Texas.

1929  ©

 

MY FAMILY.

According to my family tradition, and the old family Bible, which had in it a record of this important event, I was born in Nicholasville Kentucky, in the month of roses, June 18, 1848. Of this however I have no personal recollections.  My father named me in honor of Rev. Rice Harris, a Methodist preacher, whom he greatly admired. If I ever saw this distinguished gentleman I was so young that memory failed to record it. While in the tenderest infancy my parents at the altar of the Church, consecrated me in Holy Baptism to God; Rev. Wm. H. Anderson, who was for a short time president of Central College officiated.

 

MY FATHER.

My father, Larkin Warner Cooper was a native of Kentucky. He was born in the year 1813 and died near Appleton City, Missouri 1891.  I know nothing of his family, except his father was named John. I often heard him say that he never attended school a day in his life. His elocation as a reader and his penmanship were very superior, he taught school and his general knowledge was encyclopedic. 

Sometime after his marriage he was converted and joined the Methodist Church, and was licensed to preach the gospel. He was for four years a member of the Central Illinois Conference and was pastor at Bloomington and also Leroy Charges Locating he moved to Missouri in the fall of 1854, during the rest of his life he served as a Local preacher, supplying many works.

My father was considered a man of rare genius. Gifted in speech he could thrill an audience like the ascension of a sky rocket in its explosion. Those that heard him were slow to for≠get him.  Nothing pleased him better than the arena of debate. Religion, Law or Politics were chosen fields and his chosen weapon was invective. His words poured forth like coals from a red hot furnace, sizzling, scorching and blistering every thing they touched, woe to the antagonist that stood before him in the presence of a mixed audience. If he ever suffered defeat in his "Scrapping" he didn't know it.

 

MY MOTHER.

Hester Ann Roe Vaughan was born in old Virginia; near the Culpepper Court House in the year 1815, and was of one of "The First Families" of the Old Dominion. Her parents were well to do owning a large plantation and many slaves. The family consisted of two sons and three daughters.

After the death of her parents, and the estate had been divided, my mother accompanied her eldest sister and her husband to the State of Kentucky, taking with her a part of her Negro servants.  Meeting my father they married and established a home.  Four children were born to them while living in Kentucky, myself being the younger and three later, one in Illinois and two in Missouri. Thus the family consisted of six daughters and a son.  That the mother was decidedly partial to the son, was the firm conviction of the family. This was not indicated in the discipline she administered. King Solomonís Scripture on the use of the Rod in child training, was to her the law and the gos≠pel, and she fulfilled it to the letter, I can testify that according to my knowledge and belief she used the rod on me ten times to where she touch≠ed once one of the girls. They never heard a boy say, "You canít whip me", and knew nothing about the Swimming Pools and Sabbath desecration. Many go through life un-whipped because they were never tempted. 

My mother was a member of the Methodist Church, from early childhood and lived a beauti≠ful Christian life. She was loved and respected by every one that knew her, and I do not believe she had an enemy.   Kind, gentle, loving and self sacrificing she stretched cut her hand to the needy, and in the home of sorrow and sickness she was often the angel of mercy. 

Upon her fell the care and responsibility of the family, under conditions very trying. When father went to the Confederate Army we had just moved to a country home, and our resources for farming, consisted in one horse, two cows and some chickens, and twenty five cents in money, Besides we were in an enemies country.

Organizing her forces with a twelve year old son, as the "bread-winner", when the war closed she had accumulated more property than father in his entire business career.  That a man may have a brilliant mind and yet be without business sagacity, is a fact that has many illustrious examples.

 

MY SISTERS.

Sarah Elizabeth was a beautiful girl, with a brilliant mind.  She loved literature, and almost committed Byronís Poems to heart.  She married at the age of twenty a man of good family and with worldly goods, but he had acquired the drink habit, and moving to Texas where liquor was plentiful, he soon brought his wife and children to poverty and tears This experience was one of the first things to make me curse the Rum Traffic.

 

AMANDA MALVINIA.

The first death of our household. At the age of twenty five, the wife of a devoted husband, and the mother of a sweet little babe of two months she died of ceptic fever. Her going was pathetic.  To each member of the family she gave an affectionate adieu and the good bye kiss. The parting from her husband was very tender and affecting for they had been great lovers. Last of all she asked for her babe.  Gazing into its face, with a strange look for a moment, she pressed it to her bosom and with closed eyes offered her last prayer.  Then turning her face to the great beyond, like Stephen she saw Him whom she had lovingly served, and with a face radiant with joy, and words of triumph fell asleep in Jesus.  A mind trained and disciplined of the highest intelligence; a disposition that was gentle and not easily provoked; and a heart that was loving and true to the friendships of earth end Heaven, she was the peerless idol of our home, and next to our mother we paid her reverence. 

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;

Full many a flower is torn to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert's air.

 

NANCY JANE.

Sister Nan as we called her was our home maker. Like Martha of old, she was given to much serving and never ate the bread of idleness.  Unlike her sisters, she was a perfect blond. She was a lover of song, and took the lead in our singing, which was our popular diversion. Carrying all the parts we were entertainers at parties, church as well as at home.

In South west Missouri she died comparatively young, leaving a husband and two or three children. Her eldest son became a Baptist preacher and a useful man in his community.

 

MARY SCROGGIN.

Lives in Central Iowa and is well preserved for a woman approaching her 88th birthday. She is the mother of five children, and boasts that each has a nice home well supplied with grandchildren, are heavy Tax Payers and devout Christians. 

Living in the country near a Friend Church, she joined it, and brought up her children in that faith which was the only sensible thing for her to do. Some times she preaches, and I am told her messages are very edifying.  Quite often she is called upon for addresses, but it was never my pleasure to hear her. Five years ago she and her husband celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

 

THE GOLDEN WEDDING OF ROBERT AND MARY.

Robert dear, I've just been thinking,

Of the day that we were wed,

Fifty years have come and left us,

Since those magic words were said;

Then we joined our hands together,

And our troth to each we plighted,

And the preacher said serenely,

"I pronounce that you're united.

 

Then it was we launched cur sailboat,

On a wild tumultuous sea,

All the cargo that it carried,

Was dear Robert you and me;

But our hearts were brave and loving,

And we feared no breakers roar,

We were sailing for an harbor,

Where the storms are heard no more. 

 

In this long and weary journey,

Side by side we've been together;

Days of toil and nights of weeping,

Sunshine end cloudy weather;

But the gracious Father blessed us,

Both in basket and in store;

Sent sweet angels to caress us,

Till we wanted nothing more.

 

Robert dear I've been dreaming,

That our journeys nearly o'er,

That we soon must cast our anchor,

Where lovers meet to part no more.

You have been a dear companion,

Kind and patient, good and true,

And of all my hearts devotion,

Its been given all to you.

 

Glidden Iowa.     MARY.

Nov. 16, 1923

 

MARTHA WEST AND EMMA WIRT.

It has been said, "When two cars come together it is a collision, and when two babies come together it is twins." Two baby sisters, as much alike as two black eyed peas, was to us a pride as well as a source of joy.  They are now in their seventy forth year, always lived near each other, and been life long companions. 

Mattie as we called her has an Urban home and is spending, with her husband a comfortable old age. She is the mother of two Children, takes an active part in Church work, is quite an Artist in doing many things, a good housekeeper, splendid cook, and with all a devout Christian.

Emma for more than Half Century has enjoyed a Rural home; in which three children were born. For a score of years she has been a widow, and lived with her younger son, who has an interesting family of eight children. She 1s full of good works and is often found in homes of sickness and bereavement.  No one ever had more loyal and devoted sisters. Altruistic, self sacrificing always delighted to honor and give me the first place; it would be in gratitude not to love and cherish their memories.

In South west Missouri she died comparatively young, leaving a husband and two or three children. Her eldest son became a Baptist preacher and a useful man in his community.

 

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