Cooley DNA Project Success Stories
Presented to the CFAA, Summer 2014
Over the last two years the project has concentrated on identifying the
Y-DNA signatures for the early American Cooleys. Although we can never know
just when the objective is fully met—or whether it can ever be fully
met—we've made substantial progress and have learned a lot about the
various Cooley clans. For example,
- DNA suggests that Daniel Coley, also an early immigrant to
Massachusetts, may have had a Cooley ancestor in common with Benjamin
Cooley of Masschusetts. (CF02)
- We've learned that the descendants of Reuben Ransom Cooley of Ohio and
Indiana, Abraham Cooley of North Carolina and Virginia, and Thadeus Cooley,
also of Virginia, all have the same Y-DNA signature as the descendants of
Benjamin Cooley. (CF02)
- No Cooleys have been found to match the New York Dutch Coles.
- Descendants of William Cooley of Maryland and Pennsylvania, who married
Elizabeth Firmin, and John Cooley of New Jersey, who married Abigail
Lippincott, have matching Y-DNA. (CF10)
- Daniel Cooley of Adair County, Kentucky, who married Elizabeth Ball, has
traditionally been placed as a son of John Cooley of Stokes County, NC. DNA
suggests that he was not. His descendant's Y matches with up to two
descendants of the John Cooley, also of Adair County, KY, who married Annis
- There has never been a hint that William Henry Cooley and James Cooley,
both born in Pennsylvania on either side of 1800, were related. But their
descendants' DNA tells us they were closely related. Not only that, they
closely match the descendants of John Cooley of Stokes County, NC. John was
of sufficient age to have been their grandfather, but none of his sons can
be placed in Pennsylvania for these men's births. William and James likely
account for a collateral line and represent the only suggestion—genetically
or genealogically—that John Cooley had relatives in America. (CF01)
- A descendant of Edmond Cooley of Spartanburg SC is an exact match to the
Cooleys of Stokes County, NC. This came out of left field. The only
realistic possibility is that he was a son of John's. (CF01)
- And, finally, we've discovered a large, far-flung group of Cooleys in
Virginia and North Carolina for which no genealogical connection has been
made. But DNA tells they were related to one degree or another. The
earliest living of the group, Abraham Cowley, immigrated from England during
the 17th century and resided in Fredericksburg. It's not known whether he
was the patriarch of this group or of a collateral line. A well-seasoned
genealogist needs to step in and try to sort out this fascinating group.
More DNA testing will help. (CF09)
There are several more Cooley families from the era that need to be
DNA-identified. They include,
- James Cooley, born in Virginia in 1760. He served in the Revolution and
moved to Madison County, Kentucky. Current speculation—and it is just
speculation at this point—is that he might have been a brother of
Daniel Cooley of Adair County, Kentucky.
- Another Daniel Cooley, also born in Virginia, was married to Betsy Spurlock.
He died in Kentucky after 1860.
- Another John Cooley, born in England in 1731, served in the Revolution and
settled in Portsmouth, Ohio.
- And we need to resolve the Samuel Coley DNA with at least one more tester.
There are a number of testers in the project who have no matches. The
more testing done, the more likely matches will be uncovered.