Is this your Joseph?
Name: Joseph Thomas Cooley
Given Name: Joseph Thomas
Birth: 4 Aug 1843 in , Randolph County, Missouri, USA
Death: 27 Jun 1934 in Excello, Macon County, Missouri, USA
Burial: 28 Jun 1934 Bennett Cemetery, Chariton County, Missouri, USA
Joseph Cooley Autobiography
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 the letters. 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 Reverend 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.
General 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 Colonel William Moberly. I stayed in it 6 months, my pay was $25 per month. I was sent to Mexico, Missouri under Captain 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 General 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 Fort 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 Fort 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 Fort 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 Fort 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 lseeted 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 Fort Scott. We dug a hole and wrapped him up in some blankets and threw some dirt on him. We went on to Fort 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 Gratiot 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 friends.
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 November 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.
Father: William C Cooley b: 20 Aug 1818 in , Howard County, Missouri, USA
Mother: Elizabeth Jane Fields b: 20 Oct 1822 in , , Missouri, USA