Past Treasure of the Month – May 2020
Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1835, Isabella Dyer moved to Galveston in 1846 to join relatives who had already settled on the island. In 1866, she married Moritz Kopperl, a successful Galveston businessman; the couple had two sons.
Isabella Kopperl dedicated much of her life to civic and charitable projects. During the 1880s, she served on the Board of Lady Managers for the Orphans Home and contributed money to establish an infirmary and a kindergarten at the orphanage.
The City Party’s platform stated its commitment to serve in the best interest of tax-paying residents. Members advocated for improved lighting, street and alley maintenance, and better drainage. Additionally, they wished to extend the city’s sewer system to neighborhoods on the island’s western end and strongly supported the grade raising.
She also served on the board for the Letitia Rosenberg Woman’s Home and the Temple B’Nai Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society. In 1901, she served on the first executive committee for the Women’s Health Protective Association, a group of local women dedicated to city beautification and public health. After the 1900 storm decimated most of the island’s landscape, the WHPA was formed to re-plant trees and flowers along city streets. The organization also established parks and playgrounds for local residents to enjoy.
Isabella Kopperl died May 12, 1902, after being injured in an automobile accident in Redlands, California. In 1903, the City of Galveston established the Isabella Kopperl Memorial Park in her honor. Located on 25th Street near The Strand, the small but attractively landscaped park was situated in front of the Union Depot train station. It was later relocated to the Broadway esplanade at 6th Street and was the site of one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s public addresses during his May 11, 1937 visit to Galveston. In 1951, Broadway Avenue was widened, and the park was removed.