L. Coppersmith


Not only as one of the foremost merchants of Dorchester, and as such prominent in the business circles of the city, but as a veteran of the Civil war is L. Coppersmith entitled to special mention in a history of Allamakee county. He was born in New Jersey in 1843, a son of Louis and Mary Coppersmith, both natives of Germany. The mother died in 1846, during the childhood of her son. As a young man the father had come to the United States, locating first in New York, but later removing to New Jersey. In the latter state he followed the trade of wagon making until the latter ‘60s, when he made his way across the country to Iowa and took up a farm near Melbourne. That farm remained his home until his death in 1886, and in its operation he was very successful, accumulating through his well directed efforts valuable property holdings. In his family were four children, but only two, the subject of this review, and his sister, Carrie, survive. The latter is the widow of Oscar Evans, of Rochester, Minnesota.

The period of his boyhood and youth were spent by L. Coppersmith in the state of his nativity, and in the schools of New Jersey he acquired his education. He entered the business world at the early age of sixteen years, when he became a clerk in a store, being thus employed for about four years. In the meantime, however, his patriotic spirit had been aroused by the attempt of the south, to overthrow the Union, and in 1863, a youth of twenty years, he enlisted in Battery H, Second Illinois Artillery, and thus served throughout the remainder of the war. At the close of hostilities he was honorably discharged at Springfield, Illinois, and returned home with a most creditable military record. He again took up clerking, in which occupation he was engaged until the early ‘80s, when in partnership with a brother he opened a store at Dover, Minnesota, being desirous of entering business on his own account. Four years later, however, he sold his interest to his brother and came to Dorchester, Iowa, here entering into a partnership with T. C. Smith for the purpose of conducting a general mercantile store. This relationship continued until 1908, when his partner died, since which time Mr. Coppersmith has owned and operated the store alone. This was the pioneer store of the town, having been established in 1854, and at that time operated by G. W. Hayes. It is now a well equipped emporium, handling a modern and select line of goods, and in its operation Mr. Coppersmith, who is a man of progressive tendencies, is meeting with well merited success, for he has sought in every way to meet the desires and wishes of his customers, recognizing the truth of the fact that satisfied patrons are the best advertisement. As Mr. Coppersmith has prospered in his enterprise he has become the owner of valuable land, holding title to his business property as well as his home, and also a tract of land in Union City township.

In 1868 Mr. Coppersmith was united in marriage to Miss C. E. Smith, who was born in Pennsylvania and in childhood was adopted by T. E. Smith, with whom she made her home until her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Coppersmith have become the parents of eight children, of whom five survive, namely: George, who was born in 1870 and is a merchant of Des Moines, Iowa; Nora, who was born in 1877 and is the wife of Dr. M. B. Yeoman, of Lansing, Iowa; Leroy B.,, born in 1880 and still at home; Pearl, born in 1884, who married Christian Plambeck, of Dorchester; and Catherine, born in 1891, the wife of John Whitlinger, who is engaged in the bakery business at Santa Barbara, California. In religious belief Mrs. Coppersmith is a Salvationist, while in fraternal relations Mr. Coppersmith belongs to the Masonic order, in which he has filled a number of chairs up to the third degree. In politics he usually supports the democratic tickets, but is independent in his views and reserves the right to vote for any man or measure, regardless of party ties, if his judgment so sanctions. He has served as county supervisor of Allamakee county for two terms and is an efficient and capable public servant. He is eminently public-spirited in his citizenship, warmly advocating all those movements which have for their object the permanent upbuilding of the community, and is as faithful to the interest of his country in times of peace as when he followed the old flag on southern battlefields.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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