Lindsey Coppock's Mill

compiled November 2011

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Portions of the story are summarized from an article found in The Burlington Hawk Eye dated 7/25/2009 and titled Salem invaded by slave-seeking Missourians. (Other information has been added to help to understand the story.)

Lindsey Coppock was born October 23, 1923, in Columbinan County, Ohio. He was the son of Aaron and Amy Coppock. Aaron was the son of Samuel and Ellen Coppock and was born in PA. Some will probably wonder if Lindsey relates to the Coppock brothers who rode with John Brown. Barclay and Edwin's gg grandparents would be Samuel and Ellen Coppock. Barclay, Edwin and their mother Ann Lynch Coppock came to Salem in 1850. The Aaron Coppock family came in 1842. Lindsey was a Quaker when he came to Salem, Iowa but he married out and was disowned on 9-26-1846 by Salem Monthly Meeting of Friends. He had married Catherine L. Baldwin on Jan 31, 1846 in Henry County, Iowa.

The below story would have had to take place before the of winter 1848, if the "father" is Lindsey's father; as his father went to California during the gold rush, in the spring of 1849 and is listed on the 1850 census in CA.

(If "father" in the below quote is Father Baldwin, his father-in-law, then it could be 1850, as the article I found said.)

Lindsey Coppock lived near Albert Button and Nelson Gibbs on the 1850 Salem census. Where the mill was I do not know, probably closer downtown.

Lindsey Coppock is quoted as writing, "I was working one night in the mill when a man rushed in saying the town was surrounded by Missourians." Coppock recorded, "Father Baldwin was hurrying past my store to see what the crowd meant. I rushed out and overtook him. When we got to the Quaker Church we found the two slaves in the center of a ring with an old Quaker lady, Mrs. Thomas Frazier, praying that the good Lord would not let the Missourians take this boy and father back to slavery. Father parted the crowd and said in a loud voice, 'They will not take these Negroes back to slavery unless they take them over my dead body.'"

(It was not uncommon for Salem Quakers to intervene, as incidents involving fugitive slaves in Salem date back to 1839 when two fugitive slaves were captures and taken back to Missouri through Salem. The residents of Salem reportedly challenged their authority to capture the slaves, who managed to escape with some likely assistance while they were preparing for a hearing.)

The story goes that a group of nine slaves escaped their Missouri masters and headed north. Seven of the party arrived in Washington, Iowa and were arrested to be returned to slavery. But two escapees, an old man and a young boy, found their way to Salem, and there the Quakers resolved to protect them from their pursuers. Arrangements were made to move the two from town, but before they could flee the town was surrounded by a party of armed Missourians who demanded the town turn over the fugitives. But the raiders underestimated the determination of the small village.

A local school teacher, Reuben Dorland, went to the Missourians and demanded they show their papers, but the night riders confessed they had none. The crowd then declared the runaways freed and enlisted the help of a farmer named Way to sneak them out of town. The Missourians were furious when they discovered their prey had escaped and a rider was sent back to Missouri, where he falsely reported that two of his party has been killed in Salem.

A party of 75 angry, armed men then set out to avenge the deaths and teach this small Iowa town a lesson it would not soon forget. Clark Frazier was hunting south of town when he saw the approaching raiders and rode home to spread the warning. The Missourians had been drinking and when they rode into town they terrorized the citizens and seized 14 town men and reportedly locked them in the meetinghouse (whether Anti-Slavery or regular meetinghouse we do not know). They began to search homes for the runaways. The town exits were blocked and no one was able to ride for help. A Mr. Jessep (maybe Eli) dressed as a woman managed to get out of town and before he could return things got even worse.

Coppock continues, " About 10 o'clock that night I came across a group of Missouri men and heard them plotting to take the 14 men out of town. They had Father Baldwin, both lawyers and the justice. I went back and told Arnold to shut down the mill as they were going to take prisoners to Missouri that night about one o'clock. I went across the street to Ansalem Stanley, a Quaker cousin, to get his rifle. He first refused but finally let me have it. We went to the store where I assembled 18 men and they kept watch all night and the Missourians did not attempt to remove their prisoners."

Help arrived the next morning in the form of a sheriff's posse from Mount Pleasant and the Missourians were given 17 minutes to leave town. That demand was given more muscle when the 25 armed men from Denmark arrived and also word that the militia company from Burlington was approaching.

(This may be the same incident or a similar one as recorded on the Peter Collins page. (Chart comparing on this page Chart of Runaways) How much is fact and how much is folklore one does not know and stories may have been easily mixed up. The depot owners and conductors kept no records of run-a-way slaves, including their numbers, for should such records fall into the hands of those who tried to enforce the fugitive slave law they would constitute most incriminating evidence. Enough of its story is known, however, to show that the Underground Railroad has played its part in the history of Salem. )

Lindsey left Salem and went to the gold mines of California in 1852. see below article

From [Clarke County Historical and Biographical Record, Lewis Publishing,

1886, pg. 178]:

The family resided in Ohio until 1842 [Aaron] owning 1000 acres of land there, but engaging in the disastrous speculation of buying $10,000 worth of butter and shipping the same to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Little Rock, Arkansas, lost every cent of the venture through the fault and dishonesty of others. He sold out his property, and paying his indebtedness, with some $1,800 in 1842, came to Iowa, and locating in the town of Salem, Henry County, opened a store, but after about three years failed at that.

In 1849 the gold fever broke out and [Aaron and son] Benjamin . . . joined a party who went across the plains to the new-found Eldorado of the West, on the golden shores of California. They landed at Hangtown, now Placerville, during the summer of 1849, and opened a small store, but three months later sold out and removed to Sacramento, where the elder Mr. Coppock purchased a lot and started a small store in a tent. In company with another party he purchased a schooner, and loaded it with goods at San Francisco, they having gone there for that purpose. On their way back they encountered a gale and were wrecked, losing everything except their lives and the clothes they had on, only pants and shirts. Seeing a whaleboat floating by they secured it, and sold it to the first passing steamboat for their passage to Sacramento as they had not a dollar in their pockets.

On arrival at the latter city, Aaron Coppock was so disheartened that he would not stay there, but leaving Benjamin in charge of his place started back to Hangtown, fifty-five miles distant, afoot, and then went to mining. Three months later Benjamin closed out the business and joined his father and engaged in the same, digging. When the Gold Lake excitement broke out in June,1850, the younger Mr. Coppock started for that camp with fifty-five pounds of provisions on his back, but when part way there met the returning prospectors and stopped to prospect, and on the Yuba River struck a rich find, paying two ounces to the man per day, although they had to carry the dirt some distance to wash it.

His father started to join him, but missing his road, wandered around a while and spent the winter in Donnersville, near the head waters of the Yuba River, where he died about the 1st of May, 1851, and was buried on Big Rich Bar. Benjamin in the meantime was looking for him, and at last, at Shasta, heard the mournful tidings of his father’s death, and at once proceeded to Donnersville, and commenced mining operations. Here he was joined by his brother, Lindsay, in 1852, and after having spent three years there and at Pine Grove returned to Iowa.

Note: In 1854 Benjamin Coppock and his brother Lindsay Coppock came to Clarke County, Iowa and entered land, Benjamin 200 acres and Lindsay 160 acres. Census of 1854 for Salem, Iowa lists Linsay Coppoc two males and four females living beside Moses Baldwin with four maes and one female. By 1856 Lindsey lives in Clark County.

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