Born in Chatham County, NC on August 27, 1818, Abner Copeland was raised on a farm and was allowed to attend school for only six or eight months. By the time Copeland was eleven years old, he and his family had moved to Tennessee, where his father sent him to work for others until reaching age eighteen. In 1839 he rode by horseback to Camden, MO in Ray County and laid claim to 160 acres of timber land, where he built a shanty. He lived there for the next ten years and managed to add an additional 92 acres, making his farm a total of 252 acres.
On October 9, 1848, Copeland married Mary Wright of Surry County, NC. They moved to Washington Township, MO to property that had belonged to Mary Wright’s father and resided there until 1886 when they moved to St. Joseph, purchased eight acres of land, and built a brick residence. They had one child, who died in infancy, and raised one orphaned child, Julia Taber, who later married Dr. Charles R. Woodson. Mrs. Mary Copeland passed away November 1, 1890. On February 29, 1892, Copeland married Bethinia Voorhees, who was born in Buchanan County, MO at Sparta and attended a private school in St. Joseph while also becoming very proficient in piano. She taught in the St. Joseph Public Schools for three years.
Copeland was a member of the Zeradatha Masonic Lodge, No. 189, a member of the Wyeth Park Baptist Church, and aided in the organization of the Missionary Baptist Church in Center Township. He passed away on August 7, 1902, at age 83.
History of Buchanan County, Missouri: A history of the county, its cities, towns, etc. (1881). St. Joseph, MO: St. Joseph Steam Printing.
Portrait and biographical record of Buchanan and Clinton Counties, Missouri. (1893). Chicago: Chapman Brothers.
St. Joseph, MO death/birth records. (1902, August). p. 279 (533). Kansas City: American Micro.
The Lozo-Needles Photo Album collection contains photographs of prominent citizens from St. Joseph, Missouri during the late 1800's. Alexander Lozo had a photography studio during the years 1871 to 1889 at various locations in the Downtown area. Lozo passed away on April 23, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois. John T. Needles had a photography studio during the years 1874 to 1882 at various locations in the Downtown area. Needles passed away in 1891 in Colorado.