Joseph Thomas Cooley was a descendant of John Cooley of
Stokes County, North Carolina:
John Cooley (c1740-c1811)
Joseph Cooley (1767-1826) m2 Kaziah Casey
John Cooley (1793-1844) m Elizabeth White
William Cooley (1818-1891) m1 Elizabeth Jane Fields
Joseph Thomas Cooley (1842-1924 MO) m Rhoda Jane Rice
A handwritten copy of this has long been in circulation. However, there
is one important difference. The transcriber of that copy appears to have
changed the words "My grandfather Cooley was a full blooded Englishman" to
"My grandfather Cooley was a full blooded Dutchman." I think this was done
to support Dale Walker's "Dutch Theory." In response to my Genforum query
about its original publication, I received this reply from Crystal
The autobiography was published in the Moberly Monitor newspaper. My
Grandmother, Elva Beach, had a copy that I saw and read years ago but I'm
not sure what happened to it after her death. I am sorry but I do not know
what year it was published.
Crystal has since found her grandmother's copy. Most of the following is
as transcribed and posted on Internet mailing lists by Susie Denes. I
transcribed the "Editor's Note" from the scanned copy I received from
Crystal in January, 2011. Judging from what that says, this is a reprint
from a much earlier date, possibly contemporaneous to Joseph.
Moberly Monitor-Index & Evening Democrat, Sun., Oct. 22,
Great-Great Uncle Of Archie Cooley Was POW
(Editor's Note: Archie Cooley, 716 North Morley, the the great-great
nephew of Joseph Cooley, who was a prisoner of war during the Civil War.
Cooley said that when he was a child he visited Joseph Cooley, who loved at
Excello then. The Moberlyan has provided The Monitor-Index with the
following story, prepared by the late Joseph Cooley, about his life and
times of the 1800s.)
By Joseph Cooley
I was born in Randolph County, Missouri, about half way between
Huntsville and the early settlement, known as Darksville. My father was
William Cooley. My mother was Elizabeth Jane Fields, a native of
Kentucky, but I do not remember the country from which she came, nor
can I remember hearing her mention any town that might indicate the
part of Kentucky in which the family had lived. She was an orphan and
was brought to Missouri when she was two years old.
William Cooley, my father, was born August 19, 1818 in the town of Old
Franklin. He was the son of John Cooley, and his wife Elizabeth White.
My grandmother Elizabeth White Cooley was a sister to Thomas White and
she had another and as I remember his name, it was Fant or Tant White.
Sheriff James W. White of Macon County was a cousin to my father,
William Cooley. My grandmother Elizabeth White Cooley is buried in the
Mark Teter graveyard about 5 miles west of Jacksonville, Missouri.
My grandfather, John Cooley ran the salt works at Burton Station in
Howard County; he died there and is buried there in a near by cemetery.
Captain Crawley who was a lawyer at Keytesville told me that my
great-grandfather Cooley was named Jesse Cooley, but if he told me the
name of my great-grandmother I cannot remember it.
My grandfather Cooley was a full blooded Englishman and when he first
came to this part of the country, he settled near the present site of
Kansas City, at Cooley's Lake and from there he moved back to
Boonville, Missouri or rather Old Franklin. I do not know exactly when
my grandfather Cooley moved to Old Franklin, but he was living there in
1818, when his son William Cooley, my father was born August 19, 1818.
I was born August 4, 1843 in Randolph County, Missouri. Of course, I
remember incidents prior to the time that I was six years of age, but
beginning at the time I was six years old in the year of 1848 I have a
very vivid recollection of things that happened. In the year of 1848 my
father and mother moved to Kirksville, Missouri, or rather to Adair
County and lived about six miles south of where Kirksville now stand.
It was here that I went to my first school; my teacher was a Miss Baity
or Beatty. I do not remember who owned the land on which we lived at
that time, but know that it did not belong to my father.
In the Spring of 1849, we moved to Milan, Missouri. My mother's brother
Uncle Samuel Fields lived there. It was the year of the gold fever in
California and my uncle wanted to go. He had my father move over there
and help him wind up his business and run the mill and the post office.
He had been running the post office there in Milan. Father ran the post
office in the house in which he lived. I can well remember the seals on
That was the day before the postage stamp was introduced. Stamps looked
very strange to us when the first ones came into use and it was quite a
while before folks became reconciled to the innovation. In those days
all the letters were sealed with wax; in fact they had no envelopes as
they do now.
We lived at Milan one year and moved back to Kirksville in 1850, and
lived there during the years of 1850, 1851, 1852, and until November 1853.
We lived on the farm of Dr. Good, a quarter of a mile north of where the
present court house stands. It was while we lived here that I earned the
first money of my life. I worked in the field all day dropping corn by hand
for a man, while he covered with a hoe. When night came he gave me a dime. I
was very much elated over the possession of so much money and as soon as I
could getaway that evening I went down to the store which was only a quarter
of a mile away to spend my earnings of the day. Of course the store kept
open in the evenings while the neighbors came in to learn the news, buy
their few necessities and a smoke and exchange yarns. After much
deliberation I spent my earnings of that day, the first money I had ever
earned, for a Jew's Harp.
The first plowing that I ever did in my life was in a field between
where we lived and the present site of the court house in Kirksville.
In the fall of 1853 that the surveyors made their first survey for the
line of the North Missouri railroad. They came right through our corn
field, running from south to north. My father thought we would stop the
survey through our field but he soon learned it was no use. The
surveyors cut several rows of corn right through our field and threw it
to the side.
When we first moved to that place there was no court house in Adair
County. I can well remember seeing the first one built, it was in 1853
and as I was a boy I was around there a great deal when they were
working on it; it was a large frame building. I think this court house
burned during the civil war.
We lived in a small house on Dr. Good's place, and I can well remember
a few of the folks who lived near. They were Dr. Good, Ben Horton, Mrs.
James and her children Whitley Foster.
One thing that I remember that now seems strange to me was that as a
boy I frequently went fishing on Foster's Prairie, there were holes of
water over this prairie and we caught a good many fish, of course they
were small. It puzzles me now to think how the fish got in those water
holes on the prairie, however, I can remember how many of them got out.
My uncle, Tom Cooley, married Ben Horton's sister. He hauled goods from
Edina to Dirdsville when he was not fishing and my father often helped
him. I do know my father helped haul from there to Kirksville.
In November 1853 my father moved his family from Kirksville, Missouri
to Dalton, we lived on the Bowling Green Prairie -- in the fall of 1853
my father bought land, paying $4.50 an acre for it, the price that all
land around there was selling. There was one hundred acres of Prairie
and thirty six acres of timber in the place.
At the time that we moved from Kirksville, Missouri to Bowling Green
Prairie in Chariton County, the trip was made in three days. The first
day the fire was on the prairie and in the field, we fought fire nearly
all day, that night we stayed north of Bloomington. The second night we
stayed at my grandmother Cooley's a mile east of the Chrisman School
house, she was very ill at the time and died within a few days, that is
my only recollection of her, the only time that I can remember seeing
her. The third day we reached our destination in Chariton County and
moved in with Uncle Joe Cooley.
Joseph Cooley had a large two room log house with a hall between the
rooms, commonly called a double log house. We had plenty of room as he
had only six in his family and father had nine, we lived there with
Uncle Joe until the next spring. Uncle Joe moved to his farm and Uncle
Tom Cooley moved in with us. My father went to making rails, and us
boys gathered the corn and stripped tobacco, then my father built a
house on the land he bought, we moved in, broke the sod and cut and
made cottonwood rails to fence our 100 acre farm.
We raised corn and tobacco, put out about 8 acres of tobacco every year
we lived there. We would get about $8.00 a hundred for the tobacco, and
the corn brought from 10 cents to 25 cents per bushel. The ground was
especially adapted to raising potatoes, one time we raised about 400
bushel, but had no market for them, sold them at ten cents a bushel and
fed many to hogs, just threw the potatoes over the fence to the hogs.
We went to school at the Bluff School which was 2 miles across the
prairie from our home. We did not get to go very regular as we had to
strip tobacco and gather corn. We had good teachers, there was a Mr.
Johnson and other teachers were Alfred Mann and M. J. Bebee.
We kept this up until 1860 when George James and myself got a job
cutting cord wood and making rails, we started January 1, 1860 and
worked 30 days and made $60.00 piece and it certainly made me feel big.
That fall I joined the Baptist Church at Bluff Point. Our pastor was
Rev. Thomas Allen, I was baptized by him in the Missouri River two
miles south of Keytesville Landing. I think all the others who were
baptized at that time are all dead.
Gen. Sterling Price was a close neighbor of ours. In the year of 1861
my brother John Samuel Cooley went into the Southern Army under General
Price. In 1863 I was drafted in the Brunswick Militia under Col.
William Moberly. I stayed in it 6 months, my pay was $25 per month. I
was sent to Mexico, Missouri under Capt. John. I stayed there two weeks
and came home.
My father paid me out and I was free again. In the year of 1863 I
raised two acres of tobacco and got it out in time for on August 16,
1863 there came a killing frost. In 1864 we prized that tobacco very
much and sent it to E. M. Samuel of St. Louis, we got $9.00 per hundred
for the lugs and $27.00 per hundred for the good tobacco, the event
cost me $4.00 -- I had 14 acres of corn and was offered $500.00 in
green backs for it, but the militia got it all and I got nothing.
The first of September 1863, we got into a skirmish just below
Brunswick, near the Warden School house there was a steamboat, the
Federals and only six of us, but did not know it, we were talking with
Mr. Pennington, he was in a two-horse wagon when our men got to
shooting and his team ran off. The Federals went into Brunswick. They
took the boat down the river and got to Glasgow where they were
captured the next day by Price. Several companies crossed the Missouri
River in a boat pulled by two horses. They aimed to get with Price that
night but it took us most all day, he was fighting at Independence, we
did not get into the fight until the next day then we got the worst of
it, but we did not know it. Several men were killed.
We marched south by the way of Carthage, Missouri, then went 8 miles
east of Fort Scott, Kansas and got into another fight, were fairly
successful in that fight, lost a few men. Our commander was Gen John B.
Clark of Fayette, Missouri. We marched in peace to Newtona but there
the Federals came up again but Joe Shelby got his "dander up" and made
them take back track. We went to Can Hill and crossed the Arkansas
River at Bogies between Fort Smith and Fort Gibson. It took the army an
entire day to cross the river, the Federals intended to get us while we
were crossing the Arkansas, but Price made a forced march of over 60
miles in one day so beat them to it one day. We only had beef left for
rations, no salt or bread, we kept this up for three days, got a little
beef, we started out to hunt something more to eat. There were nine of
us, my father led the crowd, got out off from the army. We swam the
Arkansas and got up on the Ridge, went into camp. We got up the next
morning wondering where to go, we saw a spy and started towards him and
the Federals came over the hill. We only had two pistols for we were so
weak that we could not carry our guns. They sent us on to Ft. Smith. We
were sure weak and we had not had anything to eat for three days and
nights but one hickory nut and one bunch of grapes.
We got to Fort Smith, Arkansas the 13th day of November 1864. We never
saw a railroad or crossed a bridge. We crossed the Arkansas in a flat
boat and when we landed in Ft. Smith we found 132 other prisoners
there. They had several quarters of beef in the boat and I ate all of
the tallow off one hind quarter. My father tried to get me to quit
eating it, said it would kill me.
All of our men got sick but we had been there only two days when the
Federals hitched 40 of us to government wagon and sent us to the hills
after a load of wood. We cut and loaded a cord and then pulled it back
to our camp. We could buy a quarter of beef for 50 cents in green backs
for a sack of flour and paid $1.50 for a pound of coffee boiled the
coffee grounds twice. My father got sick. In a few days we got orders
to march. The Arkansas River was low and we crossed it in a ferry boat,
it struck a sand bar and we had to wade out. I carried my father on my
back to the bank, I led him three or four miles, we went into camp. The
next day father could walk without anyone leading him. We got within 6
miles of Ft. Gibson and met a commissary wagon from Fort Leavenworth
with 1000 guards, nearly all Indians. We got out about 6 miles and
found a cabin, went into camp there, that night there was a 9 inch snow.
The next morning Uncle Tom Cooley broke out with the small pox, they
gave us a government wagon and five yoke of cattle to pull it. We
started for Ft. Leavenworth. We had to stay a quarter of a mile behind
the regiment. Myself and Andy Perkins drove the team, father waited on
Uncle Tom Cooley for father had had the small pox in light form,
commonly called variloids. In a day or so Uncle William Fields took the
small pox. They were all put in our wagon. William Welch was the next
one to take sick and then Uncle John Banta and Ely Sarton. We got to
Harse River and Uncle Tom Cooley died, we dug a hole and put him in it,
placed some large rock on the grave. We went on and it rained and
sleeted all day, we had to haul two big logs under a wagon and make a
fire. In a few days Uncle William Fields died, after he died we had to
haul him all day and got within 15 miles of Ft. Scott. We dug a hole
and wrapped him up in some blankets and threw some dirt on him. We went
on to Ft. Scott and stayed all night. The next morning they kept my
father and the sick there. I went on to Fort Leavenworth; Jesse Grau
was the only one that got sick. He died in Fort Leavenworth, we got
there Christmas Eve, 1864.
At Fort Leavenworth they kept us in one room about 135 of us, only part
of us could lie down at a time. On January 1, 1865 we crossed the
Missouri River and got in a passenger car to St. Joseph, Missouri, then
they loaded us into a hog car to Macon, Missouri. We stayed there all
night and the next morning we got in a passenger car for the Gratoit
Prison in St. Louis, Missouri. Two weeks later my father, Ely Sarton,
and Uncle John Bunta and myself went to trimming lamps and lanterns, I
got fat. My mother sent me a box of things to eat; it was on the road
for 30 days, part of it was spoiled. We gave part of it to the hungry
We stayed in St. Louis until the first of April, then they loaded us on
the top of a steam boat, and took us to Alton, Illinois. They kept us
on the trot and we played ball and town ball, only had to work a little.
One man got a finger shot off trying to get out and two men tried to
dig out but failed, that was planned by a man from this country. Two
men got in coffin to be taken out, but they also failed. One was Joe
Terry from Randolph County. I stayed there until the 11th of May and I
was released. I went to the shops to get a job, but they could not
handle me. I started up the road towards Jerseyville, Illinois, and
tried to hire to the farmers, but they did not want a tramp. I came to
an inn, and stayed all night, struck out towards Philadelphia and met a
man going, a Mr. Stump of Alton. He asked me what I could do on a farm.
I told him that I could do anything, but they had machines I did not
know how to hitch to. That was Friday and he told me to grub timber
until he got back, that was my first grubbing.
One Monday morning I hired to him for a dollar a day and board and
washing. I got $2.75 a day for 9 days in the harvest, I worked until
the 5th of July, and started to Jacksonville, Missouri. I stayed with
Robert Skinner and then went to father's at the Goddard place, he gave
me two acres of tobacco, and some corn, I could have made more in 20
days in Illinois.
On December 7, 1865 I married Rhoda Jane Rice, near Darksville,
Missouri. We lived with father during the year of 1866 and then went to
the Hall place near Darksville. In 1869 I went to the Roberts farm. In
1869 I bought the Christal Farm near Cairo, Missouri. In 1870 I went
into the organization of the Baptist Church at Pleasant Hill church. I
was ordained a deacon. I raised corn and tobacco and run a coal bank.
On October 8, 1877 I joined the I.O.O.F. Lodge at Cairo, Missouri and I
still belong to the lodge.
On January 13, 1878 I sold my place and bought the White farm, moved
there and stayed there five years and bought a farm near Eccles. I ran
a farm and a coal mine. My wife died February 1, 1911. I stayed by
myself and did my own cooking and housework for two years. In 1913 I
married Sallie Coulter, in 1915 I moved to Excello, Missouri and I
moved my church letter to the Mt. Salem Baptist Church.
I still cut my own wood and raise a large garden of fine vegetables
and get around without any trouble at all.
All original portions ©
Michael Cooley, OrbitInternet.net -