James McCoppin
First Calhoun County Judge
by Mary Belle Melcher Meitzen

One of the first graves viewed at the Indianola Cemetery on Orleans street will be James McCoppin, first Calhoun County Judge.

"Sacred to the memory of
James McCoppin
Born at Liverpool, England,
Nov. 23, 1821,
Departed this life at Indianola Texas,
July 20, 1883.
Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord
From henceforth: yes, saith the spirit, that
They may rest from their labours;
And their works do follow them."

James McCoppin was born in Liverpool, England in 1822. He came to America, landing in New Orleans prior to 1849 with this wife, Mary Hughes and son, Alexander by a former marriage. His daughter, Alice Helen, was born in New Orleans, in 1849 and son, John, was born in Algiers, Louisiana, July 6, 1851.

 A year or two later, they settled at Powder Horn before there was much of a settlement at Indianola. He was a ship builder and Bar Pilot. His wife died in childbirth and she and the infant were buried in the same grave in the LaSalle Cemetery near Indianola. He did not re-marry.  

McCoppin was a member of the Episcopal Church, Indianola Masonic Lodge No.84 and Royal Arch Mason Ocean Chapter No. 177. He served as postmaster and county judge for two terms when Indianola was the county seat. He died August 20, 1883 and was buried in Indianola Cemetery with Masonic rites.




New Book on Indianola!

CAMP INDIANOLA and Other Stories 1930-1950
by Curtis Foester, Jr.

On sale at the Calhoun County Museum starting the week of August 8th and at the Bauer Center on August 20.

The Victoria Advocate, Cuero Star, and Cuero Bulletin published accounts of his death and the Resolutions of Respect from his Masonic affiliations. W.H. Woodward, F.W. Bates and C.W. Hartup signed for Masonic Lodge No. 84. George Armstrong, James Morrison and J.M. Crain signed the Royal Arch Masonic Ocean Chapter No. 177 Resolutions of Respect.

His son, Alexander (Alex), became a bar pilot serving at Pass Cavallo, Quintana (Brazos River), and later Galveston where he lived with his family until his death in 1900. He also served as a ship builder. Alexander II, John, Berta, Rebecca, and Anna survived him.

His daughter, Alice Helen (Miss Alice), was a constant companion to her father James, after the death of his wife. On February 6, 1883, she was appointed post mistress at Indianola.  In 1884, she married Sergeant Isaac A. Reed, Signal Officer of the U.S. Weather Bureau. Sgt. Reed died at his post of duty as signal officer during the height of the devastating hurricane of 1886. Mrs. Reed and her sons, Norris and James, moved to Victoria after the storm. Mrs. Reed died there July 12, 1928 with James preceding her in death. Both are buried in Victoria.

John McCoppin, youngest son of James, married Louisiana Edwards on January 14, 1877, in Indianola. He served in the Coastal Survey as a seaman. His second grade teacher's certificate was signed by his father, the county judge. He moved to and taught in the Long Mott one room school for several years. During this time Alice Emily (Later Mrs. D.K. Strait) was born. The family returned to the LaSalle addition of Indianola which was being promoted at this time. McCoppin was employed as a tide gauger on Powder Horn Lake. Daughters Anna Mary and Annie (later Mrs. James Boyd) were born there. Anna died at three months and was buried in La Salle.  

From 1890 to 1896 the family lived in Velasco (Brazos River port) and then in Rockport where Maude (Mrs. C.D. Smalley) and son Frank were born in 1890 and 1893 respectively. From Rockport, the family moved back to Calhoun County and Mr.McCoppin accepted the position of teacher in the Seadrift School. He also taught at Six Mile, and finally at the ChocolateSchool near Clark Station. The McCoppins became residents of Port Lavaca in 1904. Maude and Frank attended for the first time a school taught by one other than their father. Mr. McCoppin was employed as a bookkeeper at the Rahtgens and Smith Lumber Yard and continued in this position under the management of Hillyer-Deutsch Lumber Company. His death occurredNovember 14, 1917 and he was buried in Lynnworth Cemetery(Port Lavaca Cemetery) with Masonic rites. He was preceded in death by his daughter Mary Elizabeth who died at age 29 in 1912 and was buried in Lynnworth Cemetery. His wife,Louisiana, died March 12, 1920 and was buried in the family plot.

John McCoppin was a member of the First Baptist church and Masonic Lodge, Number 338. His daughters Emily Strait and Annie Boyd continued to live in Port Lavaca. Maude Smalley was a resident of San Antonio, and his son Frank McCoppin, U.S. Army, lived in San Antonio, Texas in 1990.

William C. Edwards

William C. Edwards, a veteran of the Texas Revolution, moved from Mustang, Jackson County, to Indianola,Texas during early 1860's. With him was his wife, Amanda Davis, daughter of John Davis, sheriff of Jackson County, and their three daughters, India (Mrs. Tim Burke), Texana, and Louisiana (Mrs. John McCoppin).

Mr. Edwards was a carpenter and built many of the houses in Indianola.  During the 1875 storm, he moved his own family and many others to the home of Mrs. Rahtgens. This house which he had built, was one of the few to withstand the ravages of the wind and water. Mr. Edwards died at Indianola in 1877. His wife then made her home at La Salle, south of Powder Horn Lake, until 1889; then moved to Rockport with her daughters, Mrs. India Bourk, Miss Texana Edwards, Frank Mayfield, an adopted son, and granddaughter, Tenie Bourk. She died at Rockport in 1890.

At the restored Indianola Cemetery on the Ridge (Old Town) located on Zimmerman Road, a pewter monument is dedicated to the Rahtgens family. Names engraved include:

James A. Rahtgens - 1855-1858

John H. Rahtgens - Born Lubeck,Germany - 1827-1879

James J. Rahtgens - 1863-1867

William J. Rahtgens - 1866-1867

Alice E. Rahtgens - Born Ireland - 1830-1909

Richard Rahtgens - 1859 (ten days old)

John Rahtgens - 1886 - 28 yrs old

Henrietta Rahtgens - 1886 - 30 yrs old

Velma Alice Lock - 1909-1973

Walter A. Lock - June 25,1907 

******The Calhoun County Historical Commission is installing a large Indianola  diorama  showing streets and buildings  of the city of Indianola. You will be able to locate the home of your ancestors. The diorama is being installed at Indianola close to the Courthouse site on Ocean Drive.  Many of the Indianola homes were numbered and moved to outlying areas. Perhaps the home you occupy now was originally built by carpenter William C. Edwards.


City of Port Lavaca: Port Lavaca,Texas 150th Birthday Celebration 1840-1990, "James McCoppin Family" By Mrs. A.H. Wagner and Mrs. H.C. Wehmeyer p. 287-288

Ibid:  "John McCoppin Family" by Lorena Strait Wagner, p.288

Frierer,Paul: Calhoun County Genealogy Society,Calhoun County           

Families,"The McCoppin Family" by Mrs. A. H. Wagner; unnumbered

Handbook of Texas: "Calhoun (La Salle)"

McCown, Leonard Joe: Cemeteries of Indianola,Texas,1979 p.65-67,42

Port Lavaca Wave: Centennial Issue, May 16, 1940

Author's Notes: The information on the McCoppin and Edwards Families was obtained from secondary sources. JohnMcCoppin's granddaughter, Lorena Strait Wagner compiled the family information for the Port Lavaca Wave Centennial, 1940, and the Port Lavaca, Texas 1990 Celebration. It was interesting to compare the details( All dates the same.) and family reminiscences. Much the same but different. Calhoun County owes a debt of gratitude to the McCoppin and Edwards Families whose descendents have contributed to the growth and history of Calhoun County.


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