Was born in Green county, Pennsylvania, August 15, 1804, and immigrated, with his father's family, to Mifflin township, Richland, now Ashland county, in the spring of 1809. In reaching their wilderness home, they passed through the Indian village of Greentown, and followed a trail to the south part of what is now Mifflin township, and erected a camp cabin of poles about one mile northeast of what is now Charles' mill, near a run subsequently named Zimmer's. They resided in this cabin about fifteen months. In the meantime, the family cleared a few acres and planted corn. It was frosted in July, and much injured. Mr. Copus had moved his family in a cart, with a good yoke of oxen; and also brought two or three milk cows, which fed, during the summer, on sedge grass and pea-vines. In the spring of 1810, he commenced the erection of a more substantial log cabin near a fine spring, about one mile south of his pole cabin, and removed to it during the summer of 1810. The old Greentown trail passed near the spring, and Mr. Copus was often visited by the Greentown Indians, during the spring and summers of 1809-10-11-12. Thomas Armstrong, the chief, and his sons Silas and James, and Tom Lyons, Bill Dowdee, Billy Montour, Abram Williams, and others, frequently came to the cabin, and were quite friendly. James and Silas Armstrong, then boys, often came to the sugar camp and ran races and wrestled with the Copus boys. For over three years the intercourse continued in harmony, and not until after the disgraceful surrender of General Hull at Detroit, in August 1812, were any apprehensions of danger from the Greentown Indians felt. Fears were then entertained that they might be corrupted through British influence, and attack the defenseless settlements along the branches of the Mohican.
As a means of safety the State authorities ordered the removal of the Jerome and Greentown Indians to Piqua, after which, a number of Greentown Indians, who had, prior to that time fled to Upper Sandusky, returned and assassinated the family of Frederick Zimmer and Margaret Ruffner, and, a few days afterward, attacked the cabin of James Copus, father of Wesley, and killed him, and several soldiers near the cabin. Wesley, then nine years old, with the balance of the family, was in the cabin during the assault, and saw his father fall and expire. He retained a vivid recollection of the terrific screams of the savages as they riddled the walls of the cabin with bullets.
After this tragedy, his mother and children returned to Guernsey County, where they remained until the fall of 1814, when they came back to the old cabin, where, some forty years afterward, Mrs. Copus deceased. At that time the family consisted of Henry, Nancy, Sarah, James, Wesley, Nelson, and Anna.
Wesley Copus continued to reside in the vicinity of the old homestead. For several years his health had been gradually failing. It had been apparent for some time that he could not survive a great while. Having been somewhat exposed to the inclemency of the weather, he was attacked with pneumonia, and expired February 14, 1876.
During his youth his educational advantages were limited, and his entire schooling consisted of about three months; but, by observation, a retentive memory, and good judgement, he had acquired a fund of information, and was a very interesting conversationalist.
He was twice married. His first wife survived only six months. By his second wife he had ten children, six of whom survive-John W., Madison, Eliza J., Sarah, Mary, and Nancy E., all of whom are married.
Mr. Copus was a member of the United Brethren church for thirty-five years. As a citizen, he was industrious, conscientious, and the opponent of all shams and vices. He was buried at the old cemetery near Charles' mill, where many of his kindred sleep. Mr. Copus being enrolled among the pioneers, the obituary committee of the Pioneer and Historical society, of Ashland County, adopted the customary resolutions.
Only two of the James Copus family now survives-Mrs. Sarah Vail, of Mifflin, and Mrs. Anna Whitmer, of Wood County, Ohio.