THOMAS EDWARD COPPAGE, civil engineer now in the employ of the Wichita Valley Railroad Company in the construction of its line between Wichita Falls and Stamford, Texas, was born in Falmouth, Kentucky, April 3, 1862, a son of William F. and Catherine (Keith) Coppage. The father was a farmer of Kentucky and in 1870 came to Texas, settling in Tarrant county about seven miles north of Fort Worth, where he lived for several years. He afterward took up his abode in the city of Fort Worth, where he has since followed contracting and building. The mother, however, died in that city in 1902.
Thomas E. Coppage spent his boyhood days on the home farm in his native state and though his time was largely given to the work of filed and meadow it was not the occupation to which he wished to devote his life. He early became interest in civil engineering and eagerly embraced every opportunity to broaden his knowledge concerning the subject. Through his own efforts and study he mastered the profession, and when a young man—hardly more than a boy—on coming from Kentucky to Texas he obtained employment on the survey and building of the Santa Fe Railroad between Percilla and Galveston. There his capability and fidelity won ready recognition and before the road was completed he had charge of the surveying. Subsequently he was with the D. B. and N. O. Railroad and afterward became assistant city engineer of Fort Worth, which position he filled for five years. On the expiration of that period he was elected city engineer for the succeeding term of five years and upon his retirement form the office he became engineer for the Cotton Belt Railroad, for many years operating in Texas, Missouri and Arkansas. During the year 1905 and up to the present writing he has been with the Wichita Valley Railroad Company on the construction of its line between Wichita Falls and Stamford, Texas. All of Mr. Coppage’s knowledge concerning civil engineering has been gained through his own unaided efforts. He never attended any school of engineering, but today enjoys a reputation for proficiency in all branches of the science and especially in the locating and building of railroads, where his capability is of superior order, making his service in constant demand.
On the 21st of August, 1886, Mr. Coppage was married to Miss Leila Perry, a native of Georgia and a daughter of Madison and Mary (Bright) Perry. Her father was a prominent planter and slave owner before the war. Her people came to Texas in 1870, settling on a farm eight miles south of Fort Worth, where they lived for a few years and then took up their abode in the city, where her father and mother spent their remaining days. Both Mr. and Mrs. Coppage have two interesting daughters, Nina and Florence, who are with them in their Fort Worth home. The Coppage household is justly noted for true southern hospitality and they have a very extensive circle of friends in Fort Worth. Mrs. Coppage belongs to Elelanar Temple, No. 36, of the Rathbone Sisters, of which she is past most excellent chief, and Mr. Coppage belongs to the Fraternal Mystic Circle. He has won creditable success in his business career and he takes great interest in all matters which are justly a source of civic pride.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 495-496.