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Windham County Connecticut
CTGenweb Project

WINDHAM COUNTY RECORDS

WILLIAM H. COOLEY

BIOGRAPHY

AS RECORDED IN:

COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES.

PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903 P. 109

WILLIAM HENRY COOLEY, one of the most prominent business men and citizens of Stafford Springs, Tolland county, Conn., was born July 17, 1840, in South Deerfield, Mass., and he traces his ancestry back to Azariah Cooley, who was born March 7, 1731, and settled at Bloody Brook, in the town of Deerfield, Mass. He married April 19, 1756, Elenor Warriner, and died Feb. 28, 1788. After his death his widow located in Deerfield, as housekeeper for one Barnard, whom she later married. She was a third time married, and her death occurred Dec. 7, 1819.

Sheldon, in the "History of Deerfield," says: "Mr. Cooley's ancestry is not established, but there is little doubt he was in the line of Azariah, born in 1704, Daniel, in 1682, Daniel, 1651, Benjamin, the emigrant of Long Meadow."

Benjamin Cooley, the emigrant, appears to have been one of the first settlers of that part of Springfield, Mass., called Long Meadow, from whom all of that name in the country, as far as known, are descended. His wife's Christian name was Sarah.

Eli Cooley, the grandfather of William Henry Cooley, came from Brimfield, Mass., to South Deerfield, where he married Chloe Allen. Mr. Cooley was a man of great energy and industry, and was instrumental in building both church and schoolhouse at Deerfield. The next day after it was decided by those interested that a church should be built, Mr. Cooley was up and out on the mountains getting out the timber. This was but an example of his energy, but this was an element in all his movements. He was probably the largest land-owner in Deerfield, and he was an extensive farmer. His death occurred in 1843, when he was almost 80 years of age. His children were: Dennis, who became a physician, and located in the State of Michigan, where he died; Eli, who was a carpenter by trade, and also conducted a store and engaged in
the making of paper boxes in Deerfield; Orrin, who became a preacher and a teacher, following the latter profession almost all his life, and died in Chesterfield, Ill.; Sedgewick, who was a farmer and succeeded to his father' s farm, where he carried on extensive agricultural operations; Hollis, who went South, married a lady in Georgia who owned many slaves, later moved to Alabama, and spent his life there; Caleb Allen; Almerin, who lived a long life on a farm in South Deerfield; Phila, who married Deacon Zebediah Graves, of South Deerfield, and died; Emily, who became the second wife of the Deacon Zebediah Graves; Rhue, who married Ebenezer Morton, of South Deerfield, Mass., a blacksmith and farmer; Chloe, who married Alvin Lawrence, a hotel keeper and one of the most prominent men in Deerfield; and Rhue, Eli, and Almond, who all died at less than two years of age in 1795, 1797, and 1804, respectively.

Caleb Allen Cooley was born in 1800, in South Deerfield, Mass. He was a farmer by occupation, and he died Sept. 29, 1845, in his native town.
Although not of robust health, and dying young, Caleb A. Cooley was the most active man of the family. In politics he was an Abolitionist and a Free Soiler, but did not take an active part in political matters. All his life he was a member of the Congregational Church. He was married (first) Nov. 8, 1832, to Selina Riddel, daughter of Rev. William Riddel, a Congregational churchman and a farmer. To this marriage were born two children: Eli, who married Harriet Dole, and died in 1899, at Manteno, Ill.; and Lucy Selina, widow of a Mr. Shackleford, residing in Fairfield, Clay Co., Neb. The second marriage of Caleb Allen Cooley was to Esther Porter Packard, daughter of Rev. Theophilus Packard, a Congregational minister of Shelburne, Mass., and Mary (Tirrell) Packard, of Abington, Mass. To this marriage were also born two children: William Henry, our subject; and Alfred Allen, a farmer of South Deerfield, Mass., who married Charlotte Clapp, of that place.

The early education of William Henry Cooley was obtained in the common schools of South Deerfield, Mass., and later he attended a family school in Shelburne, Mass., conducted by a Mrs. Elizabeth Ware Packard. After completing his course at the latter school, he attended the academy of Conway, Mass., and later the academy and high school at Deerfield, leaving school when he was twenty-two years of age. When only eleven years of age he began work on a farm, during the summer season, at thirty-three cents a week for the first year, and the second year received fifty cents a week, thus early learning the value of money. At the age of twenty-three, in June, 1863, he entered the firm of W. & C. Smith, as bookkeeper, still continuing with the house, when, upon retirement of Chauncy Smith, the junior member, the firm name was changed to William Smith. In 1866 Mr. Cooley became a member of the firm, which was conducted under the title of William Smith & Co. until Dec. 1, 1881, when the style was changed to Smith & Cooley. The business of this house was the making of shoddies and flocks, and is one of the largest concerns in Stafford.

In the financial life of Stafford Springs Mr. Cooley is an important figure, for not only is he a member of one of the leading business houses of that locality, and was for a number of years a director of the Savings Bank of Stafford Springs, but he controls a number of other interests, showing in the conduct of his affairs, and of the public ones intrusted to his care, unusual sagacity and keen foresight. He is a director of the First National Bank of Stafford Springs, of which he was one of the original incorporators, and is vice-president of the Stafford Springs Cemetery Association, of which he was one of the original incorporators.

In politics Mr. Cooley is a staunch Republican, and ahs served on the board of burgesses for three terms. Being interested in school matters, he has served very faithfully on the school committee of Stafford, and in 1876 and 1877 represented the town of Stafford in the State Legislature, presenting bills calculated to improve the existing order of things and benefit the people of the town of Stafford as well as the State at large.

On Jan. 31, 1872, Mr. Cooley was married to Miss Helen Maria Smith, daughter of William Smith, of Stafford, and to this union have been born: Howard Ellis, born Nov. 28, 1875, died Feb. 1895; Benjamin Packard, born Nov 18, 1878, is associated with his father; Margaret Esther, born Nov. 1, 1888, died Nov. 25, 1897. The eldest of the family now living graduated from the high school of Stafford Springs in 1897, and then entered the Eastman Business College of Poughkeepsie, which institution his father attended in 1862-3; this young man has a very bright future and promises to follow in the footsteps of his father in business matters.

In religious affairs Mr. Cooley has long been an attendant of the Congregational Church, and has always been active in its work. For a number of years he was a member of the Ecclesiastical Society, and is now, and has been for many years, a member of the Committee of Three. In all of the undertakings of the church he has given generously of his means and time, and no deserving object or public improvement in the town lacks his hearty support. Fraternally Mr. Cooley is a member of the Ionic Lodge, No. 110, F. & A.M., of which he was secretary for about twelve years.

Reproduced by: Matthew Markert, grandson of Dorcas Smith and LeRoy T. Markert of Rockville, CT.

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