The park is named in honor of Major Mark Anthony Cooper, commander of over 300 men of the First Georgia Battalion Volunteers along with few army regulars. In April 1836, Major Cooper built a fort near the lake's edge to protect the sick and wounded left behind by General Scott as he continued on his way to Fort Brooke (Tampa). Major Cooper was ordered to hold his position and await relief troops in nine days, but by the third day they were discovered by the Seminoles who kept them under constant daily attacks. On one occasion the Seminoles tried to storm the fort with a force in 'excess of 500 warriors.' After 16 days, with provisions running out, a relief column returned to support the troops. Due to Major Cooper's vigilant leadership during the two week siege, the Georgia Battalion sustained about 20 men wounded, and lost only one.
Fort Cooper was utilized as a reconnaissance, observation and dispatch post until 1842 by various U.S. Army detachments.