Major Mark Anthony Cooper—a soldier, lawyer, politician, farmer, and entrepreneur—is best remembered as an industrialist whose ironwork's was one of the leading businesses in antebellum northwest Georgia. He founded the town of Etowah in Bartow County.

He born near Powelton in Hancock County on April 20, 1800, Cooper was educated at Mount Zion Academy and Powelton Academy in Hancock County, the University of Georgia, and South Carolina College (University of South Carolina). He was admitted to the bar in 1821 and settled in Eatonton, where he practiced law and married Evaline Flournoy, who died three months after their marriage. In 1826 Cooper married Sophronia Randle; the union produced eleven children, seven of whom survived infancy. While in Eatonton, Cooper invested in a cotton mill, vigorously promoted railroad development, and was elected to the state legislature in 1833 as a proponent of states' rights, a philosophy he held dear throughout his life.


In 1836 Major Mark Anthony Cooper entered the Second Seminole War as commander of a battalion of volunteers. Major Cooper commanded approximately 300-380 men. The volunteers included five companies of the First Georgia Volunteers plus an artillery company of a few Regulars and one cannon.  He was ordered to set up defenses, erect a block house and picketing, establish a post of observation and hold his position until relieved.  Such relief was not forthcoming until April 18th.

In the interim, under constant daily attack from the Seminoles, by Major Cooper's order, alternate Companies "sallied forth" outside the picket "to detect and dispel Osceola and his warriors" who were attempting to get the battalion to fire its cannon and thereby expend its powder supply.

Major Cooper's command held its position of defense and attack under heavy fire from the Seminoles during what turned out to be the longest single, continual battle of General Scott's Second Seminole War Campaign.

Due to Major Cooper's vigilant leadership during the two week siege, the Georgia Battalion sustained about 20 men wounded with but one man lost, Coronet Zadoc Cook, of the Morgan Guards Company.

In his report to the U.S. War Department concerning his campaign, General Scott recorded that "Major Cooper's command was the only command that sallied outside their breastworks to attack and drive the enemy".

Fort Cooper was utilized as a reconnaissance, observation and dispatch post until 1842 by various U.S. Army detachments directed by the U.S. War Department with "positive orders given to penetrate the strongholds of the Withlacoochee Cove to capture and destroy everything calculated to give strength or sustenance to the enemy".