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Colonel Rufus P. Copps, a veteran agriculturist of Hopkinton, and one of its most honored and respected citizens, was born January 13, 1818, in Haverhill, Mass., a son of Moses and Mary (George) Copps. It is said that this branch of the family originated with a little boy who was found wandering around the streets of Boston, finely dressed in velvet clothes, and who, it is supposed, was put ashore from an English vessel in the harbor. He could give no name, but was adopted by a man named Copp, from whom Copp’s Hill, at the North End in Boston, was named. John Copp, a descendant of this little waif, was a lifelong farmer of Plaistow, N.H., where he married a Miss Sarah Pollard.
Moses Copps was a shoe manufacturer in Haverhill, Mass., for some years. In 1820 he removed to New Hampshire, living first for a year in Dunbarton, and then coming to Hopkinton, where, with the exception of one year spent in Weare, he was engaged in farming on land lying just south of the present home of Colonel Copps. In 1842 he and the Colonel bought the present homestead property, which then had many of the buildings now standing. The house, erected about eighty years ago by the Silver family, was made from brick manufactured on the farm by the Silvers, and is now the only brick residence in Hopkinton. Moses Copps afterward lived retired on this farm until his demise in 1863, at the advanced age of eighty-five years. He had a large family of children, namely: Emeline, who married Daniel Bailey, and removed to Augusta, Me.; Sarah Jane, who became the wife of Ignatius W. Fellows, a jeweller, of Hopkinton; Abigail M., who married John Clement, of West Amesbury, now Merrimac, Mass., and has a son, Jacob Melvin Clement, the manager of Colonel Copps’s farm for the past two years; Mary, who married Jonathan B. Emerson, of this town, and died in Washington, N.H.; Elizabeth, who married Henry D. White, of Penacook, and died in Concord, N.H.; Rufus P., the subject of this sketch; Harriet, who is the wife of Jonathan Severance, of Washington, N.H.; Florantha, who died in childhood; Ellen M., who died soon after her marriage with the Rev. Mr. Smith, a Baptist minister; and Myra Frances, who is the wife of George W. Pierce, and resides in Henniker. The mother survived her husband about ten years, dying at the age of cighty-three.
Rufus P. Copps was reared and educated in Hopkinton, having been but three years old when his parents came here. After attaining his majority, he spent some time in Amesbury, Mass., and then went, after a short visit with his parents, to Bethlehem, N.Y., where he taught school one entire year and for two or three winter terms after he had begun farming. In 1841 he returned to the parental roof, and soon bought his present estate in company with his father. For ten years thereafter he spent his winters as heretofore, teaching in near-by schools, often receiving but fifty cents a day for his services, and boarding at home. Later, when the crops had all been harvested, he worked winters at bottoming shoes as long as the business continued profitable; and, being at home, he took care of the cattle, and performed the necessary farm chores at the same time. It was his practice to buy stock ready cut from the large manufacturers of leather, and sell the shoes together at so much a pair, the price usually averaging eight or nine dollars for a set of sixty pairs. He has also been engaged to some extent in lumbering, and of late years he has made a specialty of dairying. At the age of eighteen he joined the Rifle Militia Company, in which he served first as Orderly Sergeant. Afterward he became successively Adjutant of the regiment, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, and finally Colonel of the Fortieth New Hampshire Regiment, which command he held for two years. The Fortieth was composed of some of the brightest and bravest men of the towns of Hopkinton, Henniker, and Warner.
Colonel R. P. Copps has always been a Democrat in politics and an earnest supporter of his party. He has been a subscriber of the Patriot since it was established, having prior to that time taken Hill’s Patriot, the leading organ of the Democratic party. For three successive years from 1858 he was Selectman of his town; and in 1861 he was a Representative to the General Court, where though he was not a public speaker he did efficient work on different committees. He has likewise served for some years as Justice of the Peace.
On September 14, 1843, Colonel Copps married Miss Melissa Flanders, who was born in Bradford, N.H., daughter of Nathaniel and Betsey (Wright) Flanders. She died September 15, 1894, aged seventy-three years, leaving no children. Although Colonel and Mrs. Copps were not parents, they nearly always had some child in their household to whom they gave the same care and advantages they would to an own son. One of these was James M. Putnam, who lived with them from Andover, Mass. Another was John Brown, who lived in the household from the age of sixteen to twenty, and who is now in Michigan. Arthur M. Dustin, a blacksmith of Contoocook, who went to live at the Colonel’s when he was a little fellow of nine years, still remains with him, and now owns the homestead. He has likewise had several other boys in his family, to each of whom he gave a good home, and otherwise sedulously cared for.