Hiram Coppernall

Photo of Hiram

Hiram Coppernall served in the U.S. Civil War in the Union Army.

He served with the 24th New York Cavalry starting in January 1864 (at age 16 or 17) and served through the summer of 1865.

He was born in 1847 in Greece, New York, the son of William and Clarinda A. Cuppernoll. He moved to Duluth, Minnesota, in 1883. He died in Duluth on December 15, 1885.

Source: Family members’ research summary, below.

My name is Dave Henderson. My wife Sarah and I found a U.S. Civil War diary that belonged to Hiram W. Coppernall, and some photographs, among Sarah’s mother’s possessions when she died.

As it turns out, Hiram, a Civil War veteran, was my wife’s great-grandfather. Our research to date has revealed the following facts regarding Hiram and his family:

Hiram was born in Greece, New York, in 1847. He was the son of William (1817-1898) and Clarinda A. (1821-unknown) Cuppernoll. (Some spelling variations exist, e.g., Coppernall, Coppernoll, Cuppernull.)

The earliest record I find of the Coppernoll family is in Greece, New York (1850 census). This census records Hiram at age three and a sister, Ellen F. Coppernoll, at age two. Records from a cemetery in Greece, New York, reveal that Ellen passed away in 1856, and another sister, Libby Coppernoll, died in 1858. Additional records reveal the birth of Riley F. M. Coppernall, Hiram’s brother, in 1851.

During the U.S. Civil War, Hiram and his father William entered military service for the Union Army. William entered service first. He joined up with the 140th New York Infantry in about 1862 and served through 1865.

According to his diary, Hiram mustered into the Union Army with the 24th New York Cavalry in January 1864 at age 16 or 17 and served through the summer of 1865. Hiram fought in many battles (see the history of the 24th NY Cavalry @ www.24thNYCAVALRY.com). Both he and his father served with distinction, according to military records in our possession. The handwritten diary authored by Hiram during his war service corroborates this information.

During the postwar years, sometime between 1865 and 1870, the family moved from New York to Huntington, Indiana, and took up residency there. This is evidenced by the 1870 federal census records.

These records show Hiram, who by now was married, and his wife, Mattie (born about 1848 in Ohio, maiden name unknown), residing with Hiram’s parents as well as his brother, Riley, in Huntington (Jackson?), Indiana.

My wife’s grandmother, Mabel (Alice) Coppernall, was born in 1873 to Hiram and Mattie somewhere in Michigan. Most likely the birth occurred during a scouting trip there, as no other family resided in Michigan at that time. (She died in Monterey, California, in 1966.)

Records reveal that Hiram's brother Riley married Ella Bashalier (born 1860 in Indiana) in the Huntington area in or about 1875. This branch of the family ultimately relocated to the Saginaw (Brady Township, Michigan, area sometime after 1875. They had three boys (Edmund, Fred and Homer) and lived there for the remainder of their lives, as far as I can tell.

In the 1880 census, Hiram's daughter Mabel is recorded as living in Union, Indiana (Wells County), with her grandparents (William and Clarinda A. Coppernoll). How she got there is anyone’s guess.

I did stumble upon a cemetery record (Shank Cemetery, Huntington, Indiana) that identified Lucia E. Coppernoll as the daughter of “HW and M”; I strongly suspect that this is a previously unidentified child of Hiram and Mattie. Lucia was born in 1878 and died in 1878 at age four months, three days.

I also located a record of Mattie's death of unknown causes in 1877.

With the assistance of a Duluth Rotary Club Historian, Rachel Martin, further research revealed Hiram moved to Duluth, Minnesota, in 1883. There he co-founded the Coppernall and Heimbach Lumber company. He co-owned/managed the company until late 1885. He also remarried (Laura V.) and settled in the 1200 block of Superior Street, later moving to Bench Street. Laura was very active in the St. Luke Hospital Foundation during that time.

Continuing my research, I located a death record in St. Louis County, Minnesota, that identifies a “Hiram J. Coppernall” as having died there on December 15, 1885. Our Hiram’s middle initial was “W” not “J”; but the name was sufficiently similar--especially lacking evidence of any other “Hiram Coppernall” in the federal census records of that era--that I believe this may, in fact, be "our" Hiram. I requested copies of this death record and received them. A review revealed that this is the record of the death of Hiram W. Coppernall by his own hand (suicide) on December 15, 1885.

Continuing our research, I came across a baptismal certificate for my wife's grandmother, Mabel A. Coppernall, dated June 1886, six months after Hiram died. The certificate was issued by St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Duluth. I researched the church and found it still existed today. I called Rector Bill Van Oss requesting assistance, as I suspected the Coppernall family must have had a relationship with the church if Mabel was baptized there.

Bill was extremely helpful and did locate Hiram's grave from church records. I am now in possession of the documents attesting to Hiram's final resting place. He is in a single, simple grave at Forest Hills Cemetery in Duluth. The grave is marked by a small brick that bears a number that corresponds to the plot map attesting to Hiram's final resting place. His wife Laura was buried near Hiram years later, as was one of their daughters and Laura's mother.

Our goal was simple and remains simple: Sarah and I wished to locate the gravesites of both Hiram and his father William.

Now that we have found Hiram and confirmed that he is, indeed, in an unmarked grave, we are working with the Veteran’s Administration representative in Duluth for a Civil War headstone and an honor guard ceremony to commemorate and memorialize his war service and to permanently remind other Americans of Hiram's contribution as an American. We also wish to be attendance and will travel to Duluth for any ceremony and headstone setting.

With the assistance of Donald Lockhart (author of www.24thNYCAVALRY.com), who transcribed Hiram's diary and posted it and Hiram's picture on his website, we have a full appreciation of Hiram's war service.

We have donated Hiram’s diary, photograph, and other Civil War memorabilia to the University of Michigan at Don's suggestion. Don felt, and we agreed, that this is the proper public repository for future generations of Americans and others to enjoy Hiram's writings and to learn from them.

As a veteran myself, and both of us being descendants of long lines of military families, this is a very important project to Sarah and me.

William, Clarinda, Hiram, Mattie, Mabel, and the whole Coppernall family were simple Americans who lived basic good lives. Sarah and I feel that they exemplify the typical American family of that particular time in history. We do not want them to fall into obscurity, nor will we allow this to happen.

Sarah and I believe that Hiram and his family are part of Duluth, Minnesota, area history. We appreciate all of your efforts to maintain the historical value our veterans represent to all Americans.

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