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Thomas E. Cooper Family Papers

Identifier: SC-MS-045

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of a studio portrait of Thomas E. Cooper as a young man, two printed items, and nineteen items of correspondence. The early handwritten letters, from 1905 to 1907, are primarily from Cooper to his wife, Jane Collins, written while Cooper was working in Mullins, South Carolina. Later letters from 1925 are typewritten to his wife while Cooper was serving a prison sentence in the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. Cooper had been charged and sentenced, along with his brother William, for financial crimes related to his time as President of the Commercial National Bank in Wilmington.


  • Creation: 1905-1949


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical Note

Thomas E. Cooper, born in Mullins, South Carolina on August 19, 1883, attended the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from Falls Business College, Nashville, Tennessee. He married Janie Collins of Conway, South Carolina; the couple had two daughters, Lois and Jane. Cooper was head cashier of the Merchants and Planters Bank of Mullins, as well as president of the Commercial National Bank in Raleigh. He moved to Wilmington and continued his successful career as a banker, where he served as President of the North Carolina Bankers Association in 1914, was president of the Murchison National Bank, and president of Liberty Savings Bank. He also served as chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Education from 1915 to 1925.

While President of the Commercial National Bank of Wilmington in 1922, Cooper and his brother William were indicted for misapplying the funds of, and making false entries in, the books of the bank. Upon the bank's closure that same year, both Coopers were tried, convicted, and sentenced to a term in the federal penitentiary.

After he was pardoned by Governor McLean, Cooper tried to relocate and build a new life for himself and his family. However, finding it impossible to escape his past, he returned to Wilmington, opened up a small business and proceeded to make his way into public life. He unsuccessfully ran for sheriff two times and then in 1934 successfully for the state legislature. He ran for governor of North Carolina in 1940, coming in fifth in a field of seven in the Democratic primary. He died May 5, 1949 and is buried in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington.

Note written by Patricia B. McGee. Note edited and information added on Cooper's criminal charges by Nicole Yatsonsky.

Additional details of the case against Cooper can be found here:


0.21 Linear Feet (Contains 1 document box)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Jane Cooper DeNunzio via Ann Boseman on December 4, 1985.

Processing Information

Original donation processed by Patrica McGee in 1997. In 2014, this colllection was re-foldered and re-housed with current archival standard mateials.

Thomas E. Cooper Family Papers
Patricia B. McGee
1997 March 31
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository