MRS. SUSAN (KELLER) LOPER, one of the surviving pioneers of Macoupin County, now resides in Western Mound Township, in the pleasant home in whose upbuilding she assisted her husband, the late Adrian W. Loper, who was for many years one of the leading farmers of this section. His portrait presented on the opposite page perpetuates for coming generations the lineaments of one universally esteemed and beloved.
Mrs. Loper was born in Crawford County, Ind., September 4, 1818, and comes of old pioneer stock. Her father, John Keller, who was of German descent, was young when his parents removed from his native State, Maryland, to the wilds of Kentucky, and there he was reared and married. In 1800 he went to Indiana and was one of the first settlers in Crawford County, where he bought a tract of wild land. He immediately entered upon the hard pioneer task that lay before him, and his first work was to clear away the brush and trees to make room for the log cabin that he intended to build for the shelter of his family. In 1833 he disposed of that place and with his wife and eleven children penetrated to the primeval wilds of Illinois with an ox team, bringing his household goods along, and camping and cooking by the wayside at night. He also drove about one hundred sheep and fifty cows to his new home. He found a suitable location on the Kickapoo River, in Coles County, of which he was a pioneer.
In 1836 Mr. Keller sold his property in Coles County, and coming to Macoupin County, was a pioneer of Chesterfield Township. He entered a tract of Government land, improved it into a fine farm, and dwelt thereon many years, receiving from his neighbors and associates the respect due to an upright life. He finally removed to Chesterfield, and his last days were spent in that village in honorable retirement. The maiden name of his wife was Zilla Van Meter, and she was a native of Grayson County, Ky. Her father, John Van Meter, is thought to have been born in Kentucky, and was of French ancestry. He was a pioneer farmer of Kentucky, and spent his last years in that State. He married Diana Holselaw. Mrs. Loper's mother resided at chesterfield during the latter part of her life, and at her death her body was deposited beside that of her husband in Kirby Cemetery.
Mrs. Loper was eleven years old when she accompanied her parents to this State, and she was fourteen years of age when the family removed to this county. Her early life was thus passed amid the pioneer scenes that characterized this county in the opening years of its settlement, and she has been an intelligent witness of much of its growth. The people were then mostly home-livers, that is they subsisted on the products of their farms, and many articles of food that are now considered indispensable, were then unknown luxuries. Our subject was taught all the useful household arts that were at that time in vogue, and early became an adept in carding, spinning and weaving wool and flax, and in her early married life she made the cloth in which her children were clad. When she was initiated into the mysteries of cooking, it was before a fire in a huge, old-fashioned fireplace, and many a delicious meal she has prepared by such a fire.
When she gave her hand in marriage to Adrian W. Loper, December 22, 1837, she was well prepared to assume the responsibilities of wedded life and to make a home comfortable and happy, and her husband could have made no better choice of a helpmate and life companion than she proved to him in the fifty and more years that they journeyed together. She has also been a wise and tender mother to the children born of their marriage, of whom there are six, as follows: Lodusky, Mrs. Hayward; Gideon B., Cruise V.; Lena Lota, Ms. Creaser; Ophelia, Mrs. Duckes; and Adrian C. Wright.
Adrian W. Loper was a native of New Jersey, and a son of James Loper, who is also supposed to have been born in that State. He was a seafaring man, and at the time of the War of 1812 was the owner of two large vessels, but losing them on account of the war he removed to Indiana. He was accompanied in his migration by his wife and two children, making the journey across the Allegheny Mountains in a one-horse wagon. He located near Fairfield, and after residing there for a time, in 1829 he again started westward, and coming to Illinois took up his abode in Greene County, where he lived through the "winter of the deep snow." In 1831 he made still another move, and coming to this county, became an early settler of Chesterfield Township, where his earthly pilgrimage ceased and he was gathered to his fathers at a ripe age. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Fitzgerald, spent her last years in Chesterfield Township. James Loper and his wife became the parents of seven children, namely: George, A. W., James, John, Eliza, Margaret and Phoebe.
At the time of his marriage Adrian Loper located in Western Mound Township, and from that date until the day of his death, which occurred January 18, 1890, he was one of its most successful farmers. He was wide-awake, endowed with activity and firmness of purpose, more than ordinarily far sighted, shrewd and sound of judgment, and by years of close application to his business and real hard work, he accumulated a handsome property. He helped to develop the county, and his name will ever occupy an honorable position in its history as an honored pioneer.