The name Copeland is Northern English and Scottish: habitational name from a place called Copeland, of which there is an example in Cumbria, or from Coupland in Northumberland, both named with Old Norse kaupa-land ‘bought land’, a feature worthy of note during the early Middle Ages, when land was rarely sold, but rather held by feudal tenure and handed down from one generation to the next. The Copeland family is reported to have been named after the Prince of Scotland, Northumbria, near where the Deanery of Copeland is found Cumberland, Cumbria, North Umberland area 600 sq miles. They were the Chieftain Lords before the Normans began conquering in 1066. and then afterwards that area rose up against him, and he nearly annihilated the area.
There have been several instances of Copeland immigrations from both England and Ireland to America which contributed to a number of family lines and there is much confusion as to their relationships.
Lawrence Copeland was
born about 1590 at Dolphin Leigh, Dolphinholme, Yorkshire, England. His
father is believed to be Robert Copeland (1548-1596). He was reportedly
married to Ruth Becton (1550- ) He died in 1596 at Dolphin Leigh,
Dolphinholme, Yorkshire, England.
However, There is doubt that Lawrence (1599-1699), and John who settled in Virginia were brothers. DNA testing shows that there is no link between the John Copeland who arrived in 1635 to Isle of Wight County, Virginia (DNA haplotype R1a) and the Lawrence Copeland family of the 1600s in Norfolk County, Massachusetts (DNA haplotype R1b). Parish records of Yorkshire, England fail to reveal the children of Roundhead Lawrence Copeland. It is possible that he is the father of either Lawrence or John but we have no solid evidence that either were his sons.
John Copeland, Sr. (1748-1826) was a later arrival and he came from Ireland. In the 18th century, this branch of the Copelands was living in Co. Down in the Ulster province of Ireland. It is not known when this family moved to Ireland: the name is English in origin. It is very possible that the Copelands moved to Ulster as part of the English plantation movement, to settle Scottish and English families in certain parts of Ireland. George Prangle Copeland was born in Ireland. His wife's name is not known. In the late 1740s or early 1750s, he and his family and some other families, including the Blakeleys, immigrated to Pennsylvania. He may have moved to South Carolina for a while, but in the 1790 federal census, he was living in Pennsylvania. John Copeland, Sr. (1748-1826) was one of George Prangle Copeland's sons. He was born in Ireland on February 12, 1747/48. At some point, he married Margaret Blakeley, the daughter of John Blakeley, Sr. and Rachel Orr, both who had emigrated from Ireland. Around 1755, the families left Pennsylvania and moved to Laurens Co., SC, near the town of Clinton. They belonged to Duncan’s Creek Presbyterian Church.
My Copeland Family
"Among the families of old Bridgewater that have shown energy, force of character, business acumen, and persistent industry, and one that has impressed itself on the present era by the perpetuated labors of several generations, must be particularly mentioned the Copeland family".
The above is
from the History of
1st Generation: Lawrence
Copeland 1589 - 1699
These were the days of Galileo, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and Pilgrims.
Lawrence and Lydia were the parents of five boys and three girls. Lydia died on January 8, 1688 and Lawrence on December 30, 1699 at "an advanced age". If his birth date is correct he would have been 110 years old. Some sources place his birth in 1599, making him 100 at the time of his death.
From" Records of the Town of Braintree,
Massachusetts, 1640 to 1793" p. 695
The first six generations of the "American" Copland family in this line were farmers. The following from the records of the colony had been thought as referring to Lawrence's brother. This assumption however is apparently incorrect.
1657-8 : "John Copeland, one of the sect comonly called Quakers, being
summoned, appeered, and being examined and found guilty of speaking falsly
concerning Mr John Alden, as that his head and knees trembled att such times
as the said Copeland and Christopher Holder were before the said Mr Alden and
Leiftenant Southworth, for which the said Copeland is centanced by the Court
to bee whipt att such time as hee shalbee found in the goument, being required
to depart the jurisdiction within eight and forty houres from this psent."
The two men either did not leave or returned, and on 8 February the two men were publicly whipped. While Plymouth Colony’s treatment of Quakers was milder than Massachusetts Bay Colony, which hanged four, the Quakers were not welcomed in either place and were urged to move on. Town government and the church members used the same meeting hall and were closely tied together. Only one church was tolerated in each town. In 1658 James Cudworth of Scituate, who had lost his position as head of the Scituate military company when he was accused of aiding Quakers, wrote to England to complain about the treatment Quakers were receiving. In his letter he wrote, “Mr. Alden hath deceived the Expectations of many, and indeed lost the affections of such, as I judge were his Cordial Christian Friends; who is very active in such Ways, as I pray God may not be charged him, to be Oppressions of a High Nature.” Apparently, Cudworth and others had expected Alden to be more sympathetic to the Quaker’s plight (Plymouth County Records, vol. 3:130, 115, 162; Plymouth Colony by Stratton, 91-92).
Also see Religion in 1500 - 1600
* (Generation -1) Lydia' parents Thomas Townsend (1594 - 1677) and Mary Mansfield (1608 - 1635)
2nd Generation: William
Copeland 1656 - 1716
* Source - Mayflower Families Through Five Generations
During these time there were skirmishes with the Indians who did not understand the concept of ownership of land. Settlers bought land from the Indians who thought they were selling the right to share it. These were also the days of the Salem witch trials.
"The Pilgrims sought to establish at Plymouth Colony a
Christian fellowship like that which gathered around Jesus Himself.
Congregationalists include the Pilgrims of Plymouth, whose ecclesiastical
tradition is in the Unitarian church, and the Puritans of the Massachusetts
Bay Colony, which were organized in union by The Cambridge Platform in 1648
and are now the contemporary Congregational church."
A note about families;
About Ephraim Copeland, William's brother:
(During our vacation in 1983 Anne and I, along with Marist Brother, Frank Kelly visited the beautiful town of Rockport on Cape Ann ("Cop an" above) with its quaint art shops, restaurants and beautiful sea shore. Little did we know of the Copeland connection.) Photo from 1983 vacation.
3rd Generation: David
Copeland 1705 - 1750
They were the parents of five girls and four boys. They were members of the Congregational Church at Milton and all the children were baptized there where the dates of the baptisms were recorded. *
During this period, the battles with the Indians continued and English and French vied for control of territories of North America. Both sides enlisted the aid of Indians who often switched sides in the conflicts. William Kidd, English-American buccaneer, was hanged. The first steam engine was built and Handel was composing music.
David died on his birthday in 1750 and his wife in July of 1774
* Source - Mayflower Families Through Five Generations
4th Generation: David
Copeland 1738 - 1779
The French and Indian Wars began between England and France. Colonists were becoming disenchanted with the heavy handed rule of the British The Treaty of Paris ended the French-Indian War. France ceded Canada to England and gave up all her territories in the New World except New Orleans and a few scattered islands. British troops taunted by a crowd of colonists fired on an unruly mob in Boston and killed five citizens in what came to be known as the Boston Massacre. On Feb 9, 1775 the English Parliament declared the Mass. colony was in rebellion. On Jul 4, 1776 the Continental Congress approved adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Shoelaces were invented in England.
As noted above, families tended to be large and the family farm no longer supports succeeding generations. Either male descendants find other occupations or find new land on which to establish new farms. And so, families disperse, sometimes to distant areas following new opportunities.
For information regarding Elizabeth Clapp and her ancestry see The Pomeroy Family Line.
5th Generation: Joseph
Copeland 1765 - 1815
Though we know little of this ancestor, he lived at a momentous time in history. He saw the birth of this nation and the beginnings of a new form of government. On Nov 30, 1782 the United States and Britain signed preliminary peace articles in Paris, recognizing American independence and ending the Revolutionary War. Mozart during this period wrote six string quartets dedicated to Haydn. After 1783 German officially replaced Latin as the language of instruction in Austria. Inventor John Fitch demonstrated his steamboat, Joseph Guillotine proposed a new, more humane method of execution. A toilet that flushed itself at regular intervals was patented. Cleveland was founded by Gen. Moses Cleaveland. There is, however, an interesting story about the Sally Downey family that occurred while she was a child. See Sally Downey.
6th Generation: Alden Parcus
Copeland 1801 - 1852
Rachel was the daughter of Daniel Fleming (1779-1846) and Nancy Harding (1786-1855). We know nothing of Nancy's parents. Daniel was born in Fayett, PA. His father was John H Fleming (1710-1790) who was born in Britain. Daniel's mother was Sarah L Reed (1744-1812) and had been born in Ireland.
The family was farming in either Green or Venango County, Pa. Farming was difficult and the area farms were not very productive due to poor soil conditions. We know little of their lives but as a teen Alden lived through the war of 1812 and then witnessed rapid development in the nation and westward expansion. They witnessed the early development of steam power and many other innovations.
Alden P died Feb 5, 1852 and Rachel on December 26, 1884.There is a fascinating story regarding Alden's brother and the oil boom of the 1865. (see Parkhurst Tilly Copeland farm of Pithole )
7th Generation: James
Harvey Copeland 1835 - 1928
J. H. married Lyde Roher and the couple gave birth to a daughter in 1862. In 1863 they had moved to Meadville, PA. In a letter* Their daughter was described as being "as thick as she is long, but is real pretty"
James was four years old when photography
was first developed and as he grew up it attracted his interest. As an adult
he would be one of the pioneers of photography when he opened a studio in Meadville. According to a February 1864 letter* of Hannah Rohrer
to Coston Monks: “Lyde has all she can do these times and more, too. She
gets up and gets breakfast, washes the dishes, and goes to the Gallery,
prints, puts plates in the bath, picks up the pictures etc., works until
night, and then has to come home, get supper, etc. They took $71 worth of
pictures last week, so you can judge how busy they are.”
When oil was discovered on the land near his uncle's farm the town of Pithole sprang up almost overnight. (see Pithole - Oil's Vanished Boomtown ) J. H. Copeland opened the “Sunbeam Gallery” at 21 First Street Pithole, Pa. in August, 1865 changing the name of his firm to Copeland and Fleming in September, 1866. Possibly the “Fleming” was William Fleming , who was Rachel (Fleming) Copeland’s brother. Copeland advertised “photographic views including Pithole City, Prather City, Balltown, and most of the prominent wells, constantly on hand.” In addition to the studio, James also was the proprietor of a boarding house.
The photo at the left is J.H., his daughter Nancy Rachel (Nannie) and either his first wife Lyde or his second wife Emma.
In the summer of 1867 they relocated from Pithole to Pleasantville, PA, which sounds like an auspicious move, where James continued in the field of photography with a studio on Main Street. Lyde died prior to 1870 and there was a marriage to Emma Botsford, born in 1838. Emma died about 1873 without any children. The name Eliza Jane Copeland has been found on a deed for some property purchased in August of 1865. She is identified as J. H. Copeland's wife but no record of a marriage is known to exist. She is a mystery!
In the photo at the right James Harvey Copeland can be seen in front of the studio on Main Street in Pleasantville, PA. 1870.
On November 15, 1874 James H. married Alice Harriet Bingham, born Feb 4, 1854. Their children were Harvey Louis, Isabell, Alden Bingham and Earnest Smith Copeland. James and Alice are pictured at the left. The family had moved to the Cleveland area where all of their children were born. He had a studio at 225 Superior Street in Cleveland starting in 1870 and from 1889 to 1909 he had a studio in Linwood Park. There were several other studio locations in Cleveland, sometimes in partnership with other photographers. Click on the thumbnail at right for one of the ads. (Marilyn Copeland discovered this ad in the archives of Oberlin College in 2009). James recalled in a 1927 interview (see below) that he photographed presidents James Garfield and Benjamin Harrison.
Alice was named president of the The Good Samaritan Relief Society of the Spiritualists Church according to a February 7, 1891 article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.. Their daughter Belle (Isabel) was mentioned on the program of the celebration of the 44th anniversary of the founding of the Modern Spiritualist held at the Royal League Hall in the Case Building in Cleveland on March 28,1892. She was about 15 at the time. This was also the event at which Jennie Thayer did a recitation of "Home of the Soul". She was 13 at the time and would eventually marry Belle's brother, Harvey.
J. H. Copeland retired from Photography at the age of 76 in 1911. James Harvey and Alice completed their lives in Amherst, Ohio. At the age of 92 he was interviewed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer Newspaper. In that interview he noted that he passed most of his birthday working in his half-acre garden. His garden was his hobby but also practical. "Each year I raise onions to sell" he reported. See "News Article"
He died on March 14, 1928 and Alice in February of 1929, but we will read more of them later.
8th Generation: Harvey
Louis Copeland 1875 - 1954
Harvey returned to live with his parents along with his son. He was employed as a pressman in the printing business. We can assume that his father took the portraits shown here.
Harvey Louis served in the Spanish-American War in 1898. We do not know the dates of service but the war was short in duration lasting less than a year.
On January 21, 1904 Harvey Louis married Kathryn (Catherine) Ellen Stuart, born December 7, 1882. They were the parents of Mary Alice and Harvey Stuart Copeland.
This generation saw the 'taming of the West and the birth of many modern conveniences. These were made possible by the utilization of electricity. Railroads spanned the nation and communications grew with the utilization of telegraph and telephone. The automobile was also invented. At the "Turn of the Century" the US was industrialized and had become a world power. It was also seen as the "Land of Opportunity" and the late 1800's saw a huge influx of immigrants aided by the development of ocean going steam ships. This generation saw the end of the Victorian Era.
Our 8th generation lived well beyond this period, experiencing amazing development and even more amazing miracles of technology. Kathryn died on October 12, 1954 and Harvey Louis October 25, 1954.
James Copeland 1900 - 1967
Then came the World War Al served in the Army in Troop B 17 Cavalry from 13 July 1918 to his Honorable discharge 11 March 1919. The unit was stationed in Arizona during that time. He immediately re-enlisted and in April they embarked to their new assignment in Hawaii, quartered at Schofield Barracks. In September of 1921 the unit returned to Monterey, California and the 17th was inactivated with the troops transferred to the 11th Calvary. He was Honorably discharged on April 13, 1922 and returned home to Amherst, Ohio. On December 30, 1922 Al (Alden) married Edith Eloholz.
(Marilyn Copeland had a plaque made using her father's photo and displaying a poem which he wrote. The poem tells much of the man. To read the poem, click on the photo at the right.) While in the service, Al wrote poetry ranging from romantic to whimsical as well as stories and essays on various subjects. (In December of 2007 Marilyn compiled many of his writings into a book which was gifted to his other children including to me.)
Returning home he worked in an office (see poem) and then for the Cleveland City Railroad with a survey crew where his uncle was a civil engineer. He lived in the Amherst, Ohio area. During that period his father and Kathryn along with their children lived in Cleveland. On October 18, 1925 Edith gave birth to a baby girl (unnamed) who did not survive the day. Al and Edith divorced.
Al kept company with Lucille Cecora. She was divorced from her husband Dan Cecora after having two boys, Jim and Ken. Her maiden name was Florence Lucille Lossner but she didn't usually use her first name. When she became pregnant she went to live with relatives in Chicago. The child was born there on May 6, 1931, named Harry Ronald Cecora (me) and released for adoption. Lucille returned to Cleveland. Al and Lucille were no longer seeing each other. ( see The Story of Lucie Lossner )
In 1933 Al married Susannah Polinchik, born October 12, 1904. (Click on the thumbnail at the left for a full size wedding photo). Sue was Catholic and Al joined the church apparently before their marriage. He enlisted in the National Guard on March 3, 1934 and served the 112th Engineers as a truck driver until his discharge on January 23, 1935. Their family included Rita May, Jean Marie, Irene, John Alden and Marilyn. The children were never told of the relationship with Lucy or the resulting child. In retrospect, there is reason to believe that Al knew of his adopted child based on things which were said in unguarded moments. Al worked as a truck driver until illness forced him to stay home. Sue supported the family for about 11 years until Al's death on October 24, 1967. Sue survived until January 8, 1999.
Al Copeland started life at the "Turn of the Century", graduated high school in time for World War One, returned to civilian life to live the "Roaring Twenties" only to dive into the "Great Depression". It was a time of great change when the horse was replaced by the automobile and cities reached for the sky as they spread into the farm lands. The Victorian era was over and there were "flappers", popular music thrived ... and all that Jazz. There was prohibition and the rise of gangsterism. Radio and airplanes were developed and the world became smaller. We had the rise and fall of the "Big Bands" and our musical tastes evolved radically. The Second World War followed along with the birth of radar, the atom bomb and television. Paved roads replaced dirt and gravel and interstate highways were developed. The space age had begun and humans reached for ... and walked on the moon. It was probably the generation of greatest technological as well as social change in history up to that time.
At the right Al is pictured with Cinder, the family dog in the early 1960's. He experienced much and saw more. Through him the Copeland line continues. Four generations of his descendants exist at this writing. (2009)
Donald J Plefka (1931- ) & the
11th, 12th & 13th generations.
In 1955 Don Married Anne Marie Lawler (1932-2000) Generation 11 included Daniel, Anne Marie and Thomas Plefka. Daniel married Karen Buchler and they parented Nick, Kelsey and Ana. Anne Marie married Dominick Albano and they were the Parents of Dominick, Anthony, Marc and Joseph. Thomas Married Diane Marx who became the parents of Caitlin and Kelly. The 13 generation was initiated with the marriage of Dominick Albano to Sarah Nagy and the subsequent birth of Isabella Albano.
The Fam(ily) History tree shows historical events with the complete Copeland line in America down to my father. Partial family trees can be viewed. The Pre- 1700 tree includes information from Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, starting with our 2nd generation and including the Pricilla Mullins ancestry. The pre-1900 includes the ancestors of James Harvey Copeland, my great grandfather, including the line to John and Pricilla Alden and the line to Lawrence Copeland in England and the Townsend Family. The information for the Copeland families in England are from OneWorldTree and subject to verification and correction. The 1900's Tree show the descendents of James Harvey Copeland for three generations and includes my father, Alden James Copeland, (Al Copeland) Later generations are omitted to to protect the privacy of living individuals.
The trees require Acrobat Reader to be viewed and may be enlarged and printed.
The Newcomb Connection:
The Copeland family has a double connection to the Newcomb family. John Copeland (1658-1714), son of Samuel, married Ruth Newcomb. She was the daughter of John Newcomb and Ruth Marshal. Bethia Copeland, the daughter of John Copeland and Ruth Newcomb, married Thomas Newcomb. Thomas was the great grandson of John Newcomb and Ruth Marshal and thus a second cousin once removed to his bride. There was, of course a large age difference. See the Bryant Newcomb Pedigree Chart. My connection to this tangle of branches is that John Copeland was my 6th great granduncle, his father Lawrence, being my 7th great grandfather. The Newcolmb connection to our tree was discovered through the DNA match to a distant cousin. See mcinnyluwho below at "Cousins & Stuff"
I reflect back to the vacation trip that Anne and I made to Massachusetts and our visit to Plymouth. I remember the visit to the replica of the Mayflower and the re-created village there. We were in awe of the people who made that voyage in that fragile vessel and survived that first terrible winter. Little did we know that I had a connection to them.
I have often noted that many of the most momentous things of my life were unplanned, spontaneous and sometimes seemingly accidental. (my birth, in particular.) Such was the founding of Plymouth Colony. The Mayflower left Plymouth England bound for the Hudson River but was blown off course and ended up North of their intended destination. Thus they were ill prepared for the harsh winter that followed but a new community was born. A fortuitous accident.
It is also interesting to note that these people were religious radicals who thought the Church of England didn't go far enough in distancing itself from the Church of Rome. I wonder what these Pilgrim Puritans would think of their Catholic descendants? All this goes to the point that life is what happens while you are planning something else. God gives us the grace to take what comes our way and make the most of it. We have the God given free will to chose to react positively to life's surprises. Life continuously presents opportunities for happiness and success and for this I am grateful. Thank you God for all of it.
Thank you God for all the people who have been there to make my life possible. Thank you God for my ancestors and in particular Al and Lucille. I would not have been here without them ... and the happenstances of life ... the unplanned events ... the fortuitous errors ... and the choices made in response to all this. Thank you God for all the people who have been in my life, some like Joe and Sylvia, then Anne who were with me for many years and some who passed through very briefly but all who left me the better for their being here. Thank you God for all those who are now in my life, Our children, grandchildren, relatives and friends, some for a long time and others just entering.
Thank you God ... for everything. My prayer is that I may be worthy, and in the footsteps of my predecessors, be a light to guide the path of those who follow.
Cousins & Stuff
Donald James Plefka
Priscilla, the eldest girl on the Mayflower,
came with her brother Joseph, and parents William and Alice. Priscilla had
one little problem--she was the only girl approaching marriageable age on a
ship with well over fifty young and single men -- passengers and seamen alike.
The Mayflower's cooper (barrel-maker), named John Alden, apparently
won over Priscilla's heart -- for he decided to stay in America rather than
return home to England on the Mayflower. They were married a couple
years later -- a marriage which inspired the Henry Wadworth Longfellow poem,
The Courtship of Myles Standish.
See Girls on the Mayflower:
It is interesting to note that OneWorldTree traces Pricilla Mullins ancestry back to the 4th centry AD.
John Alden arrived with the
Massachusetts Bay Puritans (Sepratists) as a member of the crew who did not
return to England with the ship. The Copeland family members were
also Separatists who arrived in America about ten years later.. John Copeland
is believed to joined the Quaker movement in America. Some definitions are in order. Obviously Puritans and Quakers did not
Oil production was centered in the valleys of
Oil Creek and the Allegheny River when the 250 barrel-a-day Frazier Well
drilled along Pithole Creek came in. Numerous other gusher wells in this
isolated part of Venango County attracted thousands of fortune-seekers to the
area and a town called Pithole City sprang up on the Thomas Holmden Farm in
May of 1865..It was said to be one of the wildest, filthiest, chaotic towns in
This is a fascinating Copeland family story
associated with the discovery of oil during the post Civil War era and oil
boom in Pennsylvania. It is the story of Alden Parcus Copeland's brother
Parkhurst Tilley Copeland and the fortune made in the sale of his farm. But he
kept a small parcel that could have brought him even more money. He is quoted
as saying, "What is the use of
$750,000 to me without a farm. I did not buy this farm to sell it again, now
that I am settled down with my family. There I have as much as I can live on.
I have a good well of water and we can raise all the vegetables we want. I
cleared the land myself and I am now going to enjoy it."
It is very well told in the story of the Oil Creek Flemings. I direct your
attention the their web page.
One of the things that makes the study of these ancestors a bit confusing is the fact that although the Gregorian calendar was made official in 1582 and accepted by most Catholic countries, Protestant countries were slow to accept it. It wasn't until 1752 that Great Britain and its colonies adapted it. To further complicate matters, the old Julian calendar set March 1st as the beginning of the new year. As a result, the book on the Mayflower families uses both date systems. A date in February is often listed as 10 February 1690/1691. February was the 12th month of 1690 using the Julian calendar and the 2nd month of 1691 using the Gregorian calendar. I have tried to adhere to the Gregorian dates in order to be consistent with current calendars.