John B. R. Cooper

John Bautista Rogers Cooper (born John Rogers Cooper, September 11, 1791, Alderney, British Channel Islands – June 2, 1872, San Francisco, California). Raised in Massachusetts in a maritime family, he came to the Mexican territory of Alta California as master of the ship Rover, and was a pioneer of Monterey, California when it was the capital of the territory. He converted to Catholicism, became a Mexican citizen, and married the daughter of the Mexican territorial governor and acquired extensive land holdings in the area prior to the Mexican–American War.

John Bautista Rogers Cooper
John Bautista Rogers Cooper 1851
John B. R. Cooper in 1850
John Rogers Cooper

September 11, 1791
DiedJune 2, 1872 (aged 80)
ResidenceMonterey, California, USA
CitizenshipBritish, Mexican
OccupationSea Captain, landowner
Known forEarly Monterey, California pioneer
Spouse(s)Maria Jerónima de la Encarnación Vallejo
ChildrenAna Maria Guadalupe; Henry Baptiste Guillermo; Juan Bautista Guillermo; William Rogers; Amelia; Guadalupe Francisca; George Howard Vallejo
Parent(s)Thomas Cooper and Elizabeth Anne Rogers Larkin
RelativesThomas Larkin

Early life

John (Juan) Bautista Rogers Cooper was born on the island of Alderney, Guernsey, in the British Channel Islands, son of Thomas Cooper and Anne Rogers.[1] His mother and he relocated to Boston, Massachusetts when he was a boy. His mother married twice, and Captain Cooper was a half-brother of Thomas O. Larkin.[2]

After moving to Boston with his mother, he traveled extensively, first attending school in Charleston and then serving as second mate on a missionary trip to the Hawaiian Islands. He arrived in Monterey, Alta California as master of his own vessel, the trading schooner Rover, in 1823.[3]


Upon his arrival in Monterey, Cooper made arrangements to sell the Rover to the government of newly-independent Mexico, which as yet had no ships on the Pacific Coast with which to maintain contact with Alta California. To help cash-poor California governor Luis Arguello pay him for the ship, Cooper agreed to stay on as captain and enter the lucrative China trade, twice carrying Californian and Hawaiian goods to Canton and returning with Chinese manufactured goods. Cooper and Arguello quarreled, however, over how to split the profits, and it was many years before Cooper received the payment due. Collection was made more difficult when Arguello was replaced as governor in 1825. In 1826, the Rover was sent south under a new captain, and never returned to Monterey.

Trading in his sea legs, Cooper drew on his knowledge of trade to open a general merchandise store in Monterey. He boarded with Ignacio Vallejo (one of whose children became General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo). He later proposed to his daughter Encarnacion. After Cooper was baptised as a Roman Catholic, the couple married in 1827, and Cooper's baptismal name became Juan Bautista Rogers Cooper. His padrino (sponsor) was William Edward Petty Hartnell, a native Englishman who had been residing in Monterey as a trader since 1822.

After passage of an 1829 law requiring permanent residents to be Mexican citizens, both Cooper and Hartnell were naturalized in 1830. Before 1829, naturalization was not strictly required but, along with conversion to Catholicism and marriage into a prominent family, helped Cooper become accepted in Monterey and obtain land grants.

Captain Cooper later returned to the seafaring life but, having acquired land, he gradually quit the sea. From 1839 to 1844 he made many trips to the Mexican coast and to the Hawaiian Islands, in command of the government-owned Californian, which carried mail, prisoners, and government officials from Monterey to Mexico. In 1846 he made a voyage to Peru, and in 1849 he went as master of the Eveline to China.[4]

Help for Jedediah Smith

Being the territorial capital and port of entry meant that anyone coming to Alta California eventually had to come to Monterey to get official permission to remain. In 1827, Cooper hosted and escorted trapper/explorer Jedediah Smith, the first U.S. citizen to travel to California overland. Cooper helped Smith obtain a passport so his party could continue north into Oregon.[5]

Land grants

Cooper acquired Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo, in the area of present-day Castroville, California, in 1829. Another early California English-speaker, the Irishman John Milligan (or Mulligan), had a house on the rancho (labeled "Casa de Milligan" on the diseño). Cooper received a second grant in 1833, when Governor José Figueroa granted him Rancho El Molino. In 1840, Cooper traded Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo for Juan Alvarado's Rancho El Sur. Alvarado was a nephew of Encarnacion Vallejo Cooper. Also in 1840, Governor Alvarado granted him Rancho Punta de Quentin, which later became the site of San Quentin State Prison. Cooper built a mansion out at the point. Cooper and Pablo de la Guerra were granted Rancho Nicasio by Governor Manuel Micheltorena in 1844. He sold his interests in both Marin County ranchos in 1850.

Final years

John Rogers Cooper
John Cooper in 1870.

From 1850, Captain Cooper lived with his family in Monterey, and was appointed in 1851 to the post of Monterey Harbormaster. In 1865 he moved to San Francisco, where he died in 1872.[6] Cooper's eldest daughter, Ana Maria de Guadalupe, married Herman Wohler, a German who had come to California in 1848. Cooper's daughter Amelia, married Eusebio Joseph Molera in 1875.[7]


  1. ^ Harlan Hague, David J. Langum, 1995, Thomas O. Larkin: A Life of Patriotism and Profit in Old California, University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 978-0-8061-2733-0
  2. ^ "Cooper Family". 24 November 2013.
  3. ^ Luther A. Ingersoll, 1893, Monterey-San Francisco County CA Archives Biographies, The Lewis Publishing Company.
  4. ^ John Woolfendon and Amelie Elkinton, 1983, Cooper: Juan Bautista Rogers Cooper, Boxwood Press.
  5. ^ Woolfenden, pp 35–38
  6. ^ "[Captain John Rogers Cooper (1792-1872), brother-in-law of Mariano Vallejo".
  7. ^ "1932PASP...44..174C Page 174".
Americano Creek

Americano Creek is a 7.5-mile (12 km) long westward-flowing stream in the California counties of Sonoma and Marin. It flows into the Estero Americano, a 9.2 mi (15 km) long estuary, and thence to the Pacific Ocean. This article covers both watercourses.

Andrew Molera State Park

Andrew Molera State Park is a relatively undeveloped state park on the Big Sur coast of California, United States, preserving land as requested by former owner Frances Molera. Situated at the mouth of the Big Sur River, the property was part of the Rancho El Sur land grant, and later owned by Californio pioneer John Bautista Rogers Cooper and his descendants. Cooper's grandchildren Andrew and Frances Molera inherited the property from their mother in 1918. Andrew popularized the artichoke in California in 1922, and died in 1931. In 1965, Frances sold the property to The Nature Conservancy, stipulating that the park to be created should be named for her brother.

Cooper's Sawmill

Cooper's Sawmill is a California Historical Landmark located almost two miles north of Forestville, California, and is located in the jurisdiction of Santa Rosa, in the United States. It was the site of the first power-operated sawmill used for commercial purposes in California.

Corte Madera Creek (Marin County, California)

Corte Madera Creek is a short stream which flows southeast for 4.5 miles (7.2 km) in Marin County, California. Corte Madera Creek is formed by the confluence of San Anselmo Creek and Ross Creek in Ross and entering a tidal marsh at Kentfield before connecting to San Francisco Bay near Corte Madera.

Juan Bautista Alvarado

Juan Bautista Valentín Alvarado y Vallejo (February 14, 1809 – July 13, 1882) was a Californio and Governor of Las Californias from 1837 to 1842. In 1836, he led a coup that seized Monterey and declared himself governor, backed by other northern Californios, with help from Capt. Isaac Graham and his "Tennessee Rifles". Alvarado declared independence for California but, after negotiations with the territorial Diputación (Legislature), was persuaded to rejoin Mexico peacefully in exchange for more local autonomy. As part of the agreement, in 1837 he was appointed governor of Las Californias, and served until 1842.

Larkin House

The Larkin House is a historic house at 464 Calle Principal in Monterey, California. Built in 1835 by Thomas O. Larkin, it is claimed to be the first two-story house in all of California, with a design combining Spanish Colonial building methods with New England architectural features to create the popular Monterey Colonial style of architecture. The Larkin House is both a National and a California Historical Landmark, and is a featured property of Monterey State Historic Park.

List of ranchos of California

These California land grants were made by Spanish (1784–1810) and Mexican (1819–1846) authorities of Las Californias and Alta California to private individuals before California became part of the United States of America. Under Spain, no private land ownership was allowed, so the grants were more akin to free leases. After Mexico achieved independence, the Spanish grants became actual land ownership grants. Following the Mexican–American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored.

Nicasio Creek

Nicasio Creek is an 11.9-mile-long (19.2 km) stream in Marin County, California, United States and is the primary tributary of Lagunitas Creek, which flows, in turn, into Tomales Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. The Nicasio Reservoir, formed in 1961 by Seeger Dam, is located on this stream.

Novato, California

Novato ( nə-VAH-toh) is a city in northern Marin County, in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 51,904. Novato is located about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of San Rafael and about 30 miles (48 km) north of San Francisco on U.S. 101.

Novato has been called one of the best places to live in the U.S.

Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo

Rancho Bolsa del Potrero y Moro Cojo (also called "Sagrada Familia" - Holy Family) was a 6,916-acre (27.99 km2) Mexican land grant in the northern Salinas Valley, in present-day Monterey County, California. It was given in 1822 by Governor Pablo Vicente de Solá to Joaquín de la Torre.The grant was bounded on the north by Rancho Bolsa Nueva y Moro Cojo, and present-day Castroville.

Rancho Cañada de Jonive

Rancho Cañada de Jonive was a 10,787-acre (43.65 km2) Mexican land grant in present day Sonoma County, California given in 1845 by Governor Pío Pico to James Black. The grant encompassed the town of Freestone.

Rancho Cañada de Pogolimi

Rancho Cañada de Pogolimi (also called "Cañada de Pogolome" and "Cañada de Pogolomi") was a 8,781.81-acre (35.5387 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Sonoma County, California given in 1844 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to María Antonia Cazares, widow of James Dawson. The grant encompasses present-day Bloomfield.

Rancho El Molino

Rancho El Molino was a 17,892-acre (72.41 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Sonoma County, California given to John B.R. Cooper by Governor José Figueroa in 1833 and officially confirmed by Governor Nicolás Gutiérrez in 1836. "Molino" means "mill" in Spanish, and the name refers to Cooper's sawmill. The grant extends south from Russian River along Atascadero Creek, and encompasses present-day Forestville.

Rancho Estero Americano

Rancho Estero Americano was a 8,849-acre (35.81 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Sonoma County, California given in 1839 by Governor Pro-tem Manuel Jimeno to Edward Manuel McIntosh. The rancho takes its name from Estero Americano.

Rancho Nicasio

Rancho Nicasio was a Mexican land grant of 56,807 acres (230 km2) granted to the Coast Miwok indigenous people in 1835, located in the present-day Marin County, California, a tract of land that stretched from San Geronimo to Tomales Bay. Today, Nicasio, California is at the heart of this location.

Rancho Primer Cañon o Rio de Los Berrendos

Rancho Primer Cañon o Rio de Los Berrendos was a 26,637-acre (107.80 km2) Mexican land grant in present day Tehama County, California given in 1844 by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to Job Francis Dye. Rio de Los Berrendos means River of the Antelopes. The grant was on the east side of the Sacramento River and was bounded by Antelope Creek on the north and Rancho Rio de los Molinos and Dye Creek on the south.

Rancho Punta de Quentin

Rancho Punta de Quentin was a 8,877-acre (35.92 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Marin County, California given in 1840 by Governor Juan B. Alvarado to John B.R. Cooper. The grant comprised not only the San Quentin peninsula, but also present-day Ross, Kentfield and part of San Anselmo.

Rancho San Lucas

Rancho San Lucas was a 8,875-acre (35.92 km2) Mexican land grant in the Salinas Valley, in present-day Monterey County, California given in 1842 by Governor Juan B. Alvarado to Rafael Estrada. The grant extended along the west bank of the Salinas River south of present-day San Lucas.

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