FRANCIS WILLIAM COOPER, one of Nilwood's leading business men, was born in this village on the 11th of January, 1863, and is a son of the late Henry and Mary (Murphy) Cooper, the father a native of England and the mother of Ireland. The history of Henry Cooper appears at greater length elsewhere in this work.
Practically the entire life of Francis William Cooper has been spent in Nilwood, with whose business activities he is still prominently identified. In the acquirement of his preliminary education he attended the public schools of the village, the course therein pursued being supplemented by two years' study at the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, which institution he entered in 1883. Returning home at the expiration of that time he began his business career, entering the service of the Central Union Telephone Company as a manager of the exchanges in the different towns. He withdrew from this position at the end of three years to become bookkeeper for H. Cooper & sons, who were engaged in the coal and grain business. In 1899 Mr. Cooper and his brother purchased the Nilwood Carbin Coal Company, of which enterprise our subject became the sole proprietor two years later. He disposed of this business in 1903 to the Weaver Coal & Coke Company, being retained in the capacity of manager, and he is now president and manager of the Illinois Central Fuel Company. In 1900 he also embarked in the mercantile business, but withdrew from this venture at the expiration of seven years in order to devote his undivided attention to his coal and grain interests. Mr. Cooper has met with gratifying success in his various undertakings and in addition to his other interests is a director and secretary of the Nilwood State Bank.
On the 29th of October, 1890, at Litchfield, Illinois, Mr. Cooper was untied in marriage to Miss S. Chassie Cline, a native of Madison county, this state. Mrs. Cooper is a daughter of James W. and Mary (Thompson) Cline, the father a native of Illinois and the mother of Ohio, while the maternal grandfather, R. H. Thompson, was a native of Pennsylvania.
Fraternally Mr. Cooper is identified with the Masonic Order and has attained high rank in the York Rite. He belongs to Girard Lodge, No. 171, A.F. & A.M.; Chapter, No. 132, R.A.M.; Litchfield Commandery, No. 30, K.T.; and he is also a Knight of the Mystic Shrine, being affiliated with Medinah Temple, Chicago. In addition to his membership in the various Masonic orders he is affiliated with Orient Lodge, No. 95, K. of P.; and Nilwood Camp, M.W.A. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cooper belong to the Order of the Eastern Star. In matters politic he is a republican, but always casts an independent ballot at municipal elections, considering that it is a question of the man best adapted to subserve the interests of the community, rather than a matter of party principles. He has always taken an active interest in local affairs, having served for five terms as president of the village, while for twenty years he was a treasurer, and school director for ten. Mr. Cooper is one of the enterprising and progressive citizens of the town, who takes an active interest in the welfare of the community and directs his energies toward its development.