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William (Bill) was born June 5, 1887 in Sterling City, Texas. He was the last child of John Everette Cope and Lucretia J. Ray Cope. Why he was born in Sterling City is unclear. Coleman County census shows the family lived in Coleman in 1880. The next census record is Pecos County, 1900 which shows him, his father, and 3 sisters. I assume there was a move to Sterling County from Coleman County sometime between 1880 and 1884, as his last sister, Johnnie Ethell was also born in Sterling County.

Family records show that William was a "change of life baby", which is questionable. However, his mother "lost her mind" shortly after his birth and in 1889 was placed in a mental institution where she spent the remainder of her life. I don't know for sure when but sometime between 1888-1900, William's father brought William and three daughters to Pecos County and settled in Fort Stockton, Texas. William's older sisters helped raise him. William once said his older sister, Rosa, contributed much to his raising.

Also appearing on the 1900 Pecos County census was William's older brother, Madison Earl Cope, who married Matilda Brown in Sterling City in 1896. From the data, I assume Madison was the first of the family to move to Pecos County. Madison, "Matt", purchased a ranch about 2 miles South East of Fort Stockton. In 1901 Matt was killed on the Cope Ranch (later known has the Bud Price place).

The second oldest brother, Thomas J. Cope later moved to Fort Stockton - date unknown - and married a local girl, Maggie Valentine in 1905. Tom was Commissioner of Precinct 4 of Pecos County 1908 to about 1924.

In the Pecos county 1910 census, William is listed with his father, J. E. Cope, in one household, which appears to be on a ranch. By this time his sisters had married or left home.

In 1912 William married Mary Isabelle Backus, from Corpus Christi. Mary was of "Black Dutch" origin. This marriage is recorded in "Pecos County Marriages". From court records, it is evident that William and Mary lived in Presidio County shortly after their marriage.
Two years later (1914), William and Mary Cope had a son named John Edgar Cope. Women commonly went home to their mother to have their children and therefore, John Edgar was born in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1914.

In the Pecos County census of 1920, William is listed with his wife, Mary, and son John, who was then 6 years old. These records show the family living on the "Pyle Ranch" where William had been a ranch hand since 1912. It is unclear why he worked for another ranch when his family had two large ranches. Possibly there was a connection between the ranches. William's brother Tom Cope ranched north of Fort Stockton on what is now known as the "Ink Ranch" and William's father had a half interest in the "Santa Rosa Springs Ranch". An article in the Fort Stockton Pioneer newspaper in 1916 stated that J.E. Cope sold his half interest to his son Tom Cope.

In 1928 William and Mary divorced and William stayed in the Pecos County Area. He is again listed in the 1930 census for Pecos County with his son John Edgar Cope. It was not long after this that William became a Deputy for Pecos County (estimated at 1935) with one statement of one Of the old-timers in the area which referrers to him as being a Texas Ranger.

Williamís son, John Edgar, married Emma Elizabeth Yockie in 1939 in Monahans, Texas although they lived in Fort Stockton, Texas. Two years later, their first child was born, a female named Freye Irene Cope. Freye was Williamís first grandchild. Two years later, Williams second grandchild was born, a female named Joan Elizabeth. In 1945 Williamís third and last grandchild was a male named John Edward (me) born in Fort Worth, Texas.
The intentions were to name John Edward after his great-grandfather, John Everette but, at the time, it was thought the great grandfatherís middle name was Edward.

It was shortly after this date (1945), William moved in with his son John Edgar and lived until his death in 1971. The old Cope homestead is still standing and is currently livable. This property is now 1701 North Texas Street. Originally it was about 3 acres and is bordered on the South by 17th street, on the west by Oklahoma Street, and on the east by Texas Street. This property was bought from a person named Grantham and was about a mile and Ĺ from downtown Fort Stockton. The only paved road was Hwy 18 and a dirt road later became 17th Street. This was the place where all of Williamís family lived and loved until about 1975 when it was sold. It still stands today as one house on the complete block.
William died in 1971 in Odessa, Texas from surgery to correct a heart problem and is buried in East Hill Cemetery. He was 84 years old. His grave is marked with a flat stone bearing the Sheriffís Department Star.†

Compiled and Contributed By: John Edward (Eddie) Cope March 2004


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Last updated: Thursday, April 05, 2007 09:01 AM

Copyright 2009 by Eddie Cope