James Gignilliat Cooper was a prosperous landowner who owned three plantations across Florida. He was married to Pharaba Jane (née Vaughn) who gave the couple four children. During the Second Seminole War (1835–1842) he gained a commission as Major General of Volunteers and was a member of the Florida Legislature for a time. He later served on the Florida Secession Convention where he voted in favor of leaving the Union just prior to the Civil War.
John Cooper Pelot, James G. Cooper’s cousin, owned a plantation in Columbia County, Florida, that adjoined the Cooper family’s land. Pelot served in the Territorial Senate prior to Florida's statehood and as the Chairman Pro Tem of the Secession Convention. Later, he was a member of the Board of Internal Improvement which brought the railroad to Florida. He married twice, first to Sarah Crews (burial location unknown) with whom he had 15 children. His second marriage was to Jane Pyles (buried in Rosemary Cemetery in Sarasota) and had an additional five children with her. One of his children, Julia Francis, never married and is buried here in the family plot.
One of his sons, Dr. John Crews Pelot, married Mary Elizabeth Cooper, a daughter of James G. and Pharaba J. Cooper. John Crews Pelot was an assistant surgeon at Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. Dr. John and Mary E. Pelot came to Manatee in 1865 along with Mary’s parents (the Coopers) to escape the post-war conditions in North Florida. In 1867, the Coopers purchased the former Braden Plantation and made the house (known as "Braden Castle") their home until 1879. They made several expansions to the building, including the observatory, and were known for their picnics and parties. In 1873 Mary died during childbirth. Mary Pelot's death was said to have taken a large toll on her father's health. Only a few years later, in 1876, James G. Cooper passed (note: his headstone mistakenly states his death year as 1879). Pharaba lived until 1899 and Braden Castle caught on fire not longer afterwards.
Five years after Mary's death, Dr. Pelot married his second wife, Catherine "Katie" Gates (daughter of Josiah and Mary Gates). The couple gave the land for a new courthouse when the county seat moved to Braidentown in the late 1880s. The current 1913 courthouse (in downtown Bradenton) was built on the same land.
Overall, Dr. Pelot had four children between his two wives, with two passing away before the age of 16 (Mary C. and Josiah Crews).
Dr. Pelot's son, John James Pelot, became a pharmacist and purchased the Johnson Pharmacy from E. B. and Ralph Johnson (sons of Dr. Enos Johnson). With his father he opened Manatee Drug Company which was renamed Pelot's Pharmacy in the 1920s. This is the same Pelot's Pharmacy that is still in operation on Manatee Avenue. The company is still owned by Dr. Pelot's descendants today.
Dr. John Crews Pelot,1871-1881, Courtesy of Manatee County Public Library Historical Digital Collections
Braden Castle, 1900-1903, Courtesy of Manatee County Public Library Historical Digital Collections
Pharaba Jane Vaughn Cooper - Grave #6
James Gignilliat Cooper - Grave #7
John Cooper Pelot - Grave #8
Julia Frances Pelot - Grave #9
Mary E Cooper Pelot - Grave #10
Catherine Gates Pelot - Grave #11
Josiah Crews Pelot - Grave #12
Mary Cooper Pelot - Grave #13
John Crews Pelot - Grave #14
All images taken by MVHP staff in 2022 unless otherwise noted.