Mary Cooley posted a transcription of this letter to the John Cooley mailing list, April 2007.
It was writtin by Elizabeth Cooley, then the genealogist for the Cooley
Family Association of America to member, Dennis Young. The original letter
is in the possession of Dennis Young. Mary explains that she had found the
letter in the files of Ron Jones/Bernita (Jones) Sharp.
39 Woodland Place,
Ft. Thomas, KY 41075
July 31, 1977.
I am so glad you are of an enquiring mind. This is one of the necessary
attributes of a good genealogist.
That book of Lura Coolley Hamil has caused us plenty of headaches with
folks accepting her data as "gospel proof". Yes, we have a copy of it. One
of the several cousins who published it some twenty years after Mrs. Hamil
died, when they found it on a shelf in a house to be dismantled, - she spent
just barely five months on her research! - sent my husband a copy.
Genealogically speaking it should be labeled with a huge "Skull and cross
bones". Mrs. Hamil went about grabbing up anything she felt might go
together, has mixed up many different Cooley families, etc.
After her statement that the Dutch Cool, etc. took on the English
spelling of Cooley due to the influence of having married English wives, my
husband and I went up into Orange Co., Rockland, Green Co, NY to study the
court house records. I may honestly report to you that most of the Cooleys
in that area were direct descendants of Daniel Cooley who came there from
Massachusetts with his family. Other New England Cooleys gradually followed
suit. The way in which she arbitrarily decides to change the spelling of
the name, latch on to the most likely family for that group, is pretty sad.
All I can say to you and anyone else who sees that book (oh! That it had
never been printed), for goodness sake find proof first from some other
reliable source before accepting it. I am horrified that it should have
been microfilmed without first someone to check its authenticity!
On the lineage that I sent you, wherever I included a date and place of
marriage or a settlement of an estate I have proof from a court house for
it. Some of the information came from family Bibles, some from cemetery
records and some from census records, as well as old letters, such as the
one of John Pierce Cooley saying that his grandfather was born and raised in
Clay Co., MO. - Administration Papers of the estate of Joseph Cooley
granted widow Keziah Cooley 9/12/1826 - he died leaving eleven heirs
and representatives as follows: Polly Mitchell of Tenn., John Cooley,
Elizabeth White, Hannah Wilson, Evaline Cooley, Christopher Cooley, Casander
Cooley, Harrison Cooley, Jackson Cooley, Franklin Cooley and Eli Cooley
- all of Missouri - Joseph Cooley d. 4/3/1826 - adm. 6/14/1826 - Adm.
Keziah Cooley. You will note that the first four children are those of the
first marriage as I gave them to you.
Now, the Daniel Cooley to whom I referred as perhaps being the brother of
your Joseph died in Ray Co., MO. Just in case it might be of help to you
for someone else sometime I'll give you excerpts from the settlement of his
estate. The adm. were John Staley, Wm. S. Miller, and Joshua Oakey
- the estate adm. 9/6/1826 - Heirs of Daniel Cooley, dec.
- (6 sons & 6 dau.)
Sons: William, John, James, Daniel, Elias, & Reuben - also Aaron
Cooley of Adair Co., KY. who was located 11/18/1828
Daus: Anna Munday, Rebecca Hardwick (wife of Thomas Hardwick), Sally
Mayberry, Polly Smart, Elizabeth Salley & Malinda Turner.
If you want any of the family set-ups in detail I'll be glad to copy them
Frank and I have done extensive research in southwest Virginia,
travelling up and down some long, pretty steep and curvy roads to get there,
but did get quite a bit of Cooley data. There are Josephs and Daniels
galore, but so far, I can't pick out the correct two about whom I have been
writing. There was also another Daniel who came with his wife Elizabeth
(Spurlock) Cooley from Fincastle Co., VA. into Kentucky, settled in old
Lincoln County, died there and his family remained there.
One of the counties we worked in Virginia was Bland Co. to which I
believe Mrs. Hamil refers. Well, the Joseph T. Cooley who lived there was
the son of Thaddeus and Elizabeth Cooley of Wythe Co., VA. He was b.
5/17/1793 in Wythe Co., Va. & died in Bland Co., VA. 5/22/1862 - after
having married three times - he is buried in Ceres, Bland Co. beside his
first wife "in the garden". He and his first wife, Sally Ragsdale whom he
m. in Wythe Co., VA 4/15/1815 had as their first child Marion Lee Cooley
who m. 3/8/1866 in Bland Co., VA. Catherine V. Baumgardner
- they did move to Missouri living in Kansas City, Jackson Co., Mo. That
might help a little to settle the information in the "skull & cross
bones" book. There were a number of Cooley families in southwestern
Virginia, most of whom were not any kin to each other, and they belonged in
The above same Joseph had a brother, Daniel whose wife's name was
Elizabeth. They had at least four children. But, they lived in Grayson
Co., Va. where I found his will probated 5/1812. His widow remarried after
his death to David Collins. This Daniel had bought property in Grayson Co.,
I trust I have laid to rest any doubts you may have had about your
lineage from Joseph. I'll be happy to try to answer any further questions
you may have.
It will be very nice to have you as a member of the Cooley Family
Association of America.
Very sincerely yours,
/s/ Elizabeth Cooley
All original portions ©
Michael Cooley, OrbitInternet.net -