Saturday, November 2, 2013

Passport Applications - Opal D. Cooper - 1919, 1921, and 1923

The son of Louis Henry and Ellen Cooper (Louis Henry and Ellen Cooper had moved from Ohio County to Chicago by the time their son made his first application for passport). Opal was born in Cromwell, had served in Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces during WWI (1918-1919), and was living in New York when he applied for his first passport; for this second and third passport, he was living in Paris. The applications indicate that Opal was part of an American Jazz Band known as the "Red Devils" that traveled all over Europe. The third application indicates he was a singer - he also played the banjo.  Opal died in New York in 1974 following a lifelong career in the music industry. There is a seven page biography of Opal in the following book: Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919, by Tim Brooks.

The band is mentioned on this web site:

Also, I found the following regarding "The Red Devils" -

The Red Devil's were a five man band who were organized from elements of Will Marion Cook's Southern Syncopated Orchestra which was entertaining London in 1919. Some of the members may also have been associated with Seth Weeks, the mandolin virtuoso. Elliot Carpenter, Opal Cooper, Sam Richardson, Roscoe Burnett and Creighton Thompson formed the group and went to Paris in 1920. "The offer of more money took them to London in August 1920 for a job at Rector’s Club where the band was renamed the Red Devils. They also played the music halls and appeared at Rector’s Club in Paris. They remained in London until December 1922. Indiscipline among the musicians and problems over tax led to the break up of the band in 1923. While in London they recorded for the Gramophone Company." Excerpt and picture from “Hatch and Carpenter in England” by Arthur Badrock. 

I think Opal is the person in the center of this photo.

First Application:
Name:  Opal Cooper
Birth Date:  3 Feb 1889
Birth Place: Cromwell, Kentucky
Age:  30
Passport Issue Date:  20 Oct 1919
Passport Includes a Photo:  Yes
Residence:  New York
Father Name:  Louis H Cooper
Father's Birth Location:  Cromwell, KY
Father's Residence: Chicago, Illinois 

Second Application:
Name:  Opal Cooper
Birth Date:  3 Feb 1889
Birth Place:  Cromwell, Kentucky
Age:  32
Passport Issue Date:  2 Apr 1921
Passport Includes a Photo:   Yes
Residence:  Paris
Father Name:  Louis H Cooper
Father's Birth Location:  Cromwell, KY
Father's Residence: Chicago, Illinois

The left portion of the following image is not related to Opal Cooper.

Third Application:
Name:  Opal D Cooper
Birth Date:  3 Feb 1889
Birth Place:  Cromwell, KY
Age:  34
Passport Issue Date: 29 Mar 1923
Passport Includes a Photo: Yes
Residence:  American Express Co, Paris
Father Name: Louis Henry Cooper
Father's Birth Location:  Cromwell, KY

Father's Residence: Chicago, Illinois

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