John Thomas Adolphus Cooper It remains a family mystery why Adolphe Cooper, son of a prosperous Irish gentleman farmer should take a job laying submarine telegraph cables in the Eastern Mediterranean. Mind you, his father didn’t do much actual farming either, having spent much of his youth yachting around Europe. Adolphe was born in Brussels, the youngest of three brothers, all of whom opted for more modern sources of income. Austin, the eldest, was a railway manager in County Roscommon (the landlocked one north of Co. Galway); Sam became a chemical manufacturer in Peckham, South London. And for Adolphe, telegraph engineering was just the start.
Finding himself the regional manager for the Levant Telegraph Company in Smyrna at the age of 23, Adolphe made the most of being an Englishman abroad. Five years later he married his Italian wife in Monastir, Tunisia, and his children were born in Salonika (present-day Thessaloniki in Greece) and Scutari (Shkoder in Albania). All these places were at that time still part of the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Abdul Hamid II, greatly favoured Adolphe Cooper, who became his Chief Telegraph Engineer and Surveyor. The Sultan promoted him to “Imperial Commander of Roumelian Railways” (roughly speaking, Roumelia stretched from Albania to Bulgaria) and also made him responsible at some point for “the irrigation of the whole of Asia Minor south of Konya” (Konya is a city in southern central present-day Turkey).
Taken from a blog website Tall tales from the trees by Colin Salter