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A. C. Cooper and his neighbors

February 25, 2014

On November 25, 1888 an aggravation between a black couple and their English-immigrant neighbors on the Yale road turned violent, leaving two men injured and resulting in one man charged with "subornation to perjury,"  two charged with assault and another charged with attempted murder.
People who settled permanently at Brownsville left a record of land acquisition and can be found on voters lists and in census records. Others, numbering in the thousands,  were employed in the  canneries, in lumber camps,  or on railway construction  and when work was over moved on. Still others made an attempt to settle or squat on unoccupied land and left after a short time. There is little trace of such persons, except when they are noticed in the news.
The following brief account in the press of November 26, 1888 introduces us to some settlers who spent but a short time living at Brownsville.

"A row occurred on the Yale road opposite the city on Sunday, by which two men got bruised heads, as a result Cooper a colored man was arrested yesterday charged with attempt to murder. . ."

A.C. Cooper was 41 years old, born in the United States and employed in New Westminster as a barber.
Cooper took up some land along the Yale road, about three miles above Brown’s Landing,  with the dream of developing a homestead with his wife.
In August of 1888 he employed John Bosustow to clear a portion of his property, supplying him with tools and provisions.
John Hague Bosustow, 43, was  an Englishman, born at Constantinople.  A widower,  he  had come to British Columbia in 1887 to make a better life for his three children, the eldest being 14 years old.
Bosustow had previously worked on a dairy farm  at Pitt Meadows and after losing his property in a fire, moved to the Sapperton  and worked at the Cleveland Hotel. 
On accepting the commission from Cooper, Bosustow took his family to stay on Cooper’s property.  Accompanying them was  a second English immigrant, Arthur W Quinton, 46, who was to share the work.
Bosustow and Quinton worked but a short time on Cooper’s ranch before taking up an adjacent piece of land for themselves.
Mrs Cooper came out to live on the ranch and at first relations between the neighbors were amicable. Mrs Cooper, who had no family, befriended Bosustow’s daughter.
However relations with John Bosustow soon took a turn for the worse and there was increasing aggravation between him and Mrs Cooper.
The truth of stories told about the circumstances is not possible to determine from the reports.
Nor is it clear how events transpired on the night in question when Cooper, having arrived from the city in the evening, soon after came with his wife to Bosustow’s cabin and accused him of "annoying" his wife.
The outcome left Bosustow and Quinton bloodied by blows from the butt end of Cooper’s rifle, and it was in such condition that they arrived in the city the next morning to seek treatment.
First reports of the incident were headlined:

"A Negro Named Cooper Brutally Assaulted Two Ranchers Without Provocation."
"The Removal of a Bell from a Horse’s Neck is the Alleged Cause."

Cooper - Bosustow - charges laidAfter hearing their complaint, Inspector Moresby came over on the K d K ferry and finding Cooper at the landing, arrested him on the spot.
William Moresby was an astute investigator, and some aspects of the complaint not adding up, Bosustow was himself charged with "subornation to perjury" and bound to keep the peace with Cooper. 

Bosustow and Quinton were also charged with assault, but these charges were dismissed.

It  was determined that Bosustow and Quinton were injured and Cooper had done it. 
At trial before Judge McCreight that fact alone was enough to put Cooper in the BC Penitentiary for a four-year term.
It is at the Penitentiary that we find AC Cooper recorded in the census of 1891.
Bunking with Cooper at the Pen was the notorious swindler Gustavus Hamilton Griffin, MD, serving five years for writing death-threats to Vancouver Island coal baron Robert Dunsmuir.

1891 census AC Cooper and GH Griffin
The Cooper-Bosustow fracas appears to have cut short the dreams of all parties involved to settle and obtain homesteads along the Yale Road from Brownsville.
What became of AC Cooper or Mrs Cooper is not known. 
One of the injured men, AW Quinton, lived at Vancouver. 
JH Bosustow later moved to Vancouver Island where he had a successful career in real estate.

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