Col. Benjamin Cooley

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Benjamin Cooley

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Greenwich, Hampshire County, Province of Massachusetts
Death: February 27, 1810 (62)
Pittsford, Rutland County, Vermont, United States
Place of Burial: Pittsford, Rutland County, Vermont, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Benjamin Cooley, Jr. and Mary Cooley
Husband of Ruth Beach and Ruth Cooley
Father of Eunice Cooley, III; Benjamin Cooley, IV; Samuel Cooley; Susanah Cooley; Azariah Cooley, IV and 14 others
Brother of Ruben Cooley; Azariah Cooley, I; Naomi Cooley Cooley; Margaret Cooley Cooley; Caleb Cooley and 3 others
Half brother of Gideon Cooley; Eunice Gaffield; Elizabeth Cooley and Keziah Cooley

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Col. Benjamin Cooley

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=40146692

Husband of Ruth [Beach] Cooley

Son of Benjamin and Mary [Needham] Cooley

He died Feb 27, 1810 in the 63 years of his age

Benjamin married Ruth Beach on February 18, 1773. They raised ten children on the homestead, four sons and six daughters. The sons names were Benjamin, Samuel, Azariah, and Noah. The daughters were Ruth (my 3rd Great Grandmother), Moley, Naomi, Eunice, Susan and Dorothy.

Benjamin served in the Revolutionary War and attained the rank of Captain. He commanded a company in 1780, in the Vermont troops under Colones Warren and Ethan Allen (of the Green Mountain Boys).


GEDCOM Note

Great Great Great Great Grandfather Benjamin Cooley was born in Hampshire, Greenwich, Massachusetts on April 30, 1747.

Benjamin came to Vermont with his half brother Gideon Cooley in about 1768. Benjamin and Gideon were the first settlers in that town. The original proprietors of the township gave them each a farm. Benjamin was about 20 years old.

Benjamin had to wait until he was 21 years old before he could legally occupy a farm of his own, however they had to work on the homestead for one year before they could claim it.

The brothers built a shelter, then began to build a log house. They lived on game animals harvested on their land. In the fall they returned to Greenwich, Massachusetts to spend the winter, than returned in Early May of the next year. They brought seeds to plant crops

During the first winter in Vermont the history of the town of Pittsford states that Gideon and Benjamin killed seventeen bears.

At the end of the first year, Gideon went to Manchester, Vermont where the proprietors office was located to get their deed, however he took the deed in his own name for all of the land and Benjamin could show nothing for his first year of labor.

Benjamin then went to Addison Township, Addison County, Vermont which is about 40 miles North of Pittsford on the east shore of Lake Champlain. This community was near the first settlement in the State of Vermont. At the time it was known as the Hampshire Grants. Benjamin worked for a gentleman by the name of Mr. John W. Strong for one summer. He was ill most of the time he spent with Mr. Strong, and after that summer he returned to Pittsford.

Gideon and Benjamin reconciled their differences and Gideon applied to Captain Doolittle, who owned most of the land, for a pledge of deed of one hundred acres on Benjamin's behalf on the condition that he improve and occupy the land.

Benjamin settled on that farm and built the first log house in the community of Pittsford in 1771 on one hundred acres near the center of the township. Otter Creek, Furnan River and Warner Brook all flow through the Cooley farm.

One winter, Benjamin went to Bennington on snowshoes after two large kettles which were to be used to cook Maple Syrup. He carried one kettle at a time for a short distance, returned for the other and carried it ahead, when back for the first until he had carried both kettles back to his homestead near Pittsford.

Benjamin married Ruth Beach on February 18, 1773. They raised ten children on the homestead, four sons and six daughters. The sons names were Benjamin, Samuel, Azariah, and Noah. The daughters were Ruth (my Great, Great, Great Grandmother), Moley, Naomi, Eunice, Susan and Dorothy.

The family lived on vegetables, venison and maple syrup. Their first small kettle was carried by horseback to Pittsford and remains in the Cooley family as a relic.

Benjamin served in the Revolutionary War as Captain of a company from Pittsford, Vermont in the company of Ethan Allen who commanded the Green Mountain Boys. Benjamin was involved in the attack on Fort Tieconderoga. After the war he was made a Colonel of the militia.

At the time Benjamin and Gideon came to Pittsford, there were "Circuits", or preachers who traveled from town to town. In 1798 Benjamin and his brother Caleb went to Brandon, Vermont to hear the Reverand Joseph Mitchell preach. He was so impressed by his sermon that he invited him to come to Pittsford and conduct a service in his Log Cabin. Four weeks later, Benjamin and Ruth rode horseback to Brandon to hear Rev. Mitchell speak again. Soon after that Rev. Mitchell came to Pittsford and held a service in the Cooley house. This was the first sermon preached in Pittsford by a Methodist minister.

In 1798 the next Methodist Minister, Elder McLain, organized the first class meeting with only four members.

Meetings were held regularly after than until the latter part of September 1802 when the first Quarterly Conference was held in Benjamin's home, it was at this time that the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in Pittsford. Many clergymen attended the meeting and many people attended from all the surrounding towns. Benjamin and Ruth were very good hosts, but unfortunately, during the service, their oven overheated and burned down the Cabin. All efforts to save the building and its contents were futal and the clergymen and some of the congregation lost part of their wardrobes.

Many of the people started a collection to help rebuild another house. When this came to Benjamin's attention, he thanked them for their intentions but declined because he had enough to build another house and did not need the money and asked that they give it to the ministers and others who had lost clothing and other belongings in the fire.

After the building was destroyed by fire, Benjamin started work on a new house and the following winter the building was ready to be occupied. The house was made of white oak. It is a large structure two stories high. The upper story was converted into a hall where most of the Methodist Meetings were held until a regular meeting house was built in 1816 on land belonging to Chapman Hitchcock.

In September 1927 services were held commemorating the 125th anniversary of the organization of the church on the meadows in front of the Cooley house and a marble marker was set up. The Rev. Leigh Diefendorf presided and the Honorable John E. Weeks, Governor of Vermont gave the address.

Benjamin served in the Revolutionary War and attained the rank of Captain and was ultimately a Colonel.[Br%C3%B8derbund Family Archive #311, Ed. 1, Census Index: U.S. Selected Counties, 1790, Date of Import: Nov 19, 1998, Internal Ref. #1.311.1.623.103]

Individual: Cooley, Benjamin County/State: Rutland Co., VT Page #: 042 Year: 1790 Age ranges in household: 02-03-05-00-00

The following report was adapted from History of Pittsford, Vermont, by A.M. Caverly, with added information primarily from Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, Vol. 3, pages 203, 204.

Benjamin Cooley, the son of Benjamin Cooley and Mary Needham, was born April 30, 1747, at Greenwich, Massachusetts, where he grew to young manhood.

Benjamin' s older brother, Gideon, served as a soldier in the French and Indian War, during which time he traveled in what became the state of Vermont. One particular wilderness part of this area, which had been designated Pittsford, received his highest admiration, and eventually, in 1766, he traveled back from his home in Greenwich, to make a more thorough exploration. He was able to secure promise of a deed to just the spot he wanted, if he would occupy and improve the land. Thus encour-aged, he hastened to Greenwich to get his younger brother, Benjamin, to accompany him to Pittsford and assist him in making improvements upon his land. But Benjamin being only nineteen years of age, his father refused to give him his time. It was finally agreed that Gideon should remain in Greenwich and work for his father one year, in compensation for a year of Benjamin's time. Gideon's share of the contract having been performed, early in the summer of 1767, the two brothers, taking a package of provisions, axes, shovel and hoe, set out on their one horse to make for themselves a future home in the wilderness.

After arriving in Pittsford they made a rude shelter, then commenced a clearing, and in a short time began to build a log house. In this they paid little attention to the rules of architecture, but gave to it such shape and proportions as appeared to them best adapted to their more urgent necessities. Their living consisted mostly of game with which the woods abounded, though the streams contributed no insignificant amount of fish. With the exception of one or two trips to Bennington to procure a few of the necessities of life, they spent the summer at Pittsford. They enlarged their clearing, completed the house, and made such general arrangements as would enable them to resume their improvements another year to better advantage. In the fall they went back to Greenwich where they spent the winter. Early in May the next year they returned to Pittsford, bringing with them the seeds for a future harvest.

Up to this time Benjamin had supposed that he was to share equally with his brother in the land they had taken up, and in the improvements. But now, to his great disappointment, he learned that Gideon had both the land and the improvements secured to himself. This produced some alienation of feeling, and Benjamin left his brother, went to the township of Addison and took up a lot of land on the border of Lake Champlain. Gideon, however, remained in Pittsford, and with the assistance of a hired man, continued the improvements upon his land. During that season he raised some corn, potatoes and other vegetables, and got his place ready for the reception of his wife and children the following year. He returned to Greenwich in the fall, and during the winter made the necessary arrangements for the removal of his family.

In the meantime, Benjamin had labored at Addison through the summer of 1768, but in the fall he suffered so severely from intermittent fever that he abandoned his land upon the lake and returned to Greenwich. During the winter, Gideon, probably actuated by sympathy for his brother, and by desire of reconciliation, applied for, and obtained, for Benjamin, the pledge of a deed of one hundred acres, on condition that Benjamin should improve and occupy it. This was satisfactory to the younger brother; the past differences of the two were forgotten; and they made the needful arrangements for removing to the wilderness of Vermont as early in the spring as the condition of the roads would permit.

Procuring two horses for the occasion, Gideon, his wife and five children, accompanied by Benjamin, set out about the first of May on the journey. Their scanty furniture and domestic utensils were packed in sacks that were carried upon the backs of the horses. Thus encumbered, their progress was necessarily slow, but after a toilsome journey, attended with many vexatious delays, they reached the humble log cabin far removed from the haunts of civilization. This dates the beginning of the settle-ment of Pittsford by the European race. The exact day was not recorded, but that it was in May there can be little doubt. They at once set up housekeeping, and during that year the two brothers worked together. By hard labor they succeeded in raising a comfortable supply of provisions. Besides cultivating the land which had been cleared on Gideon's lot, they made a clearing and some other improvements on Benjamin's lot, which was located a little more than a mile north of Gideon's tract. The two Cooleys having per-formed their part of the contract, in the fall they were presented with deeds to their lands.

Thus one solitary family is quietly settled in the wilderness of Pittsford. During the winter of 1769 70 the Cooley's stay close to home. Early in the spring, however, Gideon emerges from his seclusion and reports himself to the world. It appears that the family had passed the winter comfortably, living in part upon vegetables raised the previous season, and in part upon venison, an abundance of which was readily obtained. Most of the cooking was done in a small iron kettle brought with them from Greenwich. This utensil was preserved in the Cooley family as a relic of that olden time. There is a tradition in the family that the brothers also killed seventeen bears that winter.

Gideon reported that some leisure hours during the past cold months had been used in the preliminary arrangements for making maple sugar when spring came. The brothers manufactured sap spouts, and from split logs excavated small troughs, the antecedents of buckets. They were obliged to obtain their kettles from Bennington, but on account of the depth of snow it was impossible to go there with a horse. Gideon had now made the journey on snowshoes. Without a load this was easily accomplished, but after he had purchased his two kettles and attempted to return with them, their combined weight was more than he could carry. Being determined to accomplish the object of his journey, he carried one kettle a short distance, and setting this down, returned and got the other; and thus he persevered until he had carried both home. How much sugar was made that spring as the effect of this labor is unknown, but it is reasonable to assume that their grocery bill for the year 1770 contained no maple sugar.

Benjamin devoted his time to improvements upon his tract, though he continued to board in his brother's family until 1771, when he built a log house. In this he resided alone until the eighteenth day of February, 1773, when he married Ruth Beach. She was born in Morristown, New Jersey, January 11, 1756, but at the time of her marriage was residing in Rutland, Vermont. After occupying the log house a few years Benjamin built a new frame one.

In the year 1770, seven individuals with their families, influenced by the glowing accounts they had heard of the new country, cast their lot among the pioneers of the wilderness of Pittsford; and each year after that brought more settlers, so that a town was born. Benjamin Cooley was very active in the affairs of the town, being Clerk and Treasurer for many years, and also serving on various committees, including those to lay out land and highways; in addition he was an officer in the militia, eventually reaching the rank of Colonel.

The early settlers had scarcely become established in their new homes, ere they found themselves involved in a controversy which had for some time existed between New Hampshire and New York, respecting their division line. Both states claimed the area that became Vermont, and although New Hampshire had granted much of the land, the unscrupulous governors of New York were selling it again to put money into their own pockets. The original settlers were understandably upset by people trying to take over the land they had improved, lived upon, and grown to love. When petitions to the New York government failed to curtail the unjust sale and seizure of land, the inhabitants took matters into their own hands to prevent such activities. The men of Pittsford and the adjacent area organized themselves into a military corps and assumed the name of Green Mountain Boys, in derision or defiance of a threat said to have been made by Governor Tryon of New York that he would drive the rebellious settlers into the Green Mountains.

Apparently the Green Mountain Boys, in their dealings with the Yorkers, as the New York officers were called, were governed by a code of laws enacted by their own conventions. They were careful to have all these laws faithfully executed, and were ready to mete out to any offending Yorker such punishment as they considered due for the quality of his crime. One of these penalties occasionally, though not often, inflicted was the application of the beach seal, termed in allusion to the great seal of New Hampshire affixed to the grants made by the governor of that province, of which the beach rod well laid on the naked backs of the Yorkers and their adherents was humorously considered a confirmation.

There is one well-authenticated instance of the infliction of the beach seal punishment within the limits of Pittsford. It appears that a New York surveyor, with several assistants, was sent into the area to locate some land. Intelligence of their appearance and object rapidly spread, and in a few hours Captain Benjamin Cooley, at the head of a party of the Green Mountain Boys, was in rapid pursuit. The Yorkers were overtaken, arrested, and brought before three men who acted as judges. After going through the forms of a trial the verdict was to the effect that the head surveyor should have the appli-cation of the beach seal and that his assistants should be discharged on condition that they pledge themselves to offend no more. The surveyor was accordingly tied to a tree, and the beach withe applied to his naked back, or, as Benjamin Cooley was accustomed to phrase it, was given a sound drubbing. The culprit was then warned that if he repeated the offense the punishment would be death. This transaction was published on the authority of those who had frequently heard Col. Cooley give an account of it, and no one acquainted with him would doubt his veracity.

The disturbances growing out of the conflicting claims to the New Hampshire Grants, in which the inhabitants of Pittsford had been compelled to take part, subsided somewhat in consequence of public attention being directed to the more exciting subject of a war with England. However much of personal interest the early settlers of these grants had in an equitable adjustment of the long enduring land title controversy, they were willing to postpone further proceedings in relation to it, in order that they might the better co operate with their countrymen in resisting the unjust claims of the British government. And when, on the 19th of April, 1775, the impending war was opened by the conflict at Lexington, when the last flickering hope of a peaceful solution of the difficulties with England was extinguished, and the colonies were hastily preparing for the struggle, every nerve being strained to its utmost tension. most of the people of these grants, being in full sympathy with the New England colonies from which they had emigrated, espoused heartily the common cause and made the needful preparations for aiding in its defense.

After the war Vermont became a state independent of both New York and New Hampshire.

It had long been foreseen by the colonies, that in the event of a war with the mother country, it would be very essential for them to possess the important British held fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Accordingly, on receiving the first intelligence of the battle of Lexington, a number of men in Connecticut procured the necessary funds and sent on foot an expedition for the capture of these military posts. On arriving at Bennington, Vermont, they were joined by Colonel Ethan Allen, one of the Green Mountain Boys, who eagerly enlisted in the enterprise, and together they proceeded to Castleton, where a council of the committee of war was held to decide upon future operations. It was thought best to send Captain Noah Phelps, of Simsbury, Connecticut, to Ticonderoga to examine into its situation and condition and make report to his associates. He passed over the lake in a boat, in the rustic garb of a farmer, and put up at a house near the fort for the night, where several of the officers were collected for a supper party. He listened to their conversation respecting the commotions in the colonies, and the defenseless condition of the post, without taking any apparent interest in what they said.

In the morning he gained admission into the fort for the purpose of being shaved. Having learned the number of men in the garrison and ascertained that their ammunition was damaged, he engaged the boatman to take him across the lake. Then he returned to Castleton where he reported what he had seen and heard. Allen immediately dispatched Major Gershom Beach as a messenger to collect men to meet his party at a place since known as Hand's Point, in the town of Shoreham. Beach trekked on foot to Rutland, Pittsford, Neshobe (now Brandon), Middlebury, Whiting and Shoreham, making a circuit of sixty miles in twenty four hours.

In passing through Pittsford Major Beach called at the farm of his son in law, Captain Benjamin Cooley, to whom he delivered the message of Colonel Allen. Captain Cooley at once left his field, seized his gun, and taking with him four other men, proceeded to the appointed place of rendezvous. Allen and his men were led through the wilderness by their pilot imitating the notes of the cuckoo. When they came to Lake Champlain, to a place since called Hand's Cove, the men concealed themselves from the view of the enemy by lying in a ravine. Here they were joined by the recruits raised by Major Beach, among whom were Captain Cooley and his Pittsford Boys. Allen, finding here no adequate means of conveying his men across the lake, sent messengers to Bridport and Addison to procure boats. They reached Bridport in the night, and made their object known to a Mr. Stone, in whose chamber a couple of young men were sleeping. When he awakened them they promptly arose and, after receiving instructions, proceeded to the fort at Crown Point and persuaded a negro, who had charge of the boats belonging to the garrison, to row them as far as Shoreham, where they pretended there was to be a squirrel hunt the next day, promising him as a compensation a jug of rum. The boats did not arrive at the rendezvous until towards morning of the next day.

The men numbered two hundred and seventy in all, two hundred and thirty of whom were Green Mountain Boys, all eager to embark and share in the perils and honors of that daring enterprise. The boats, however, were insufficient to carry all. Only eighty three of the two hundred and seventy passed over, leaving one hundred and eighty-seven behind, to be sent for immediately after the landing of the first party. The men had to row nearly two miles before they reached the shore on the west side of the lake a little north of Willow Point, and it began to be light, so Allen determined not to await the arrival of the rest of the men from the other side, but to push on immediately to the attack. They set forward under the guidance of a young man named Beman, about eighteen years old, who had spent much time at the fort and was well acquainted with all the passages and buildings, including the quarters of the officers and soldiers. As they proceeded through a covered passage into the fort they came upon a sentinel, who was unaware of their approach and had not given the alarm. At sight of the enemy he instinctively snapped his gun at Allen, who parried the weapon with his sword, and struck a blow at the soldier's head which inflicted a wound that probably would have killed him if the force of the blow had not been abated by collision with a comb which was in the soldier's hair. Allen pushed on to the apartment occupied by Captain De La Place, who was yet in bed, and demanded the immediate surrender of the fort in the name of powers, for one of which the British commander had little respect, however much he might have had for the other.

With such celerity had the men under Allen entered the fort and paraded themselves in the open area within, while the soldiers were yet sleeping in their barracks, that aroused thus suddenly from their slumbers no opportunity was offered them to organize, and resistance in such circumstances being impracticable was not for a moment to be thought of. In a few minutes the officers and men were paraded on the square embraced within the walls and surrendered themselves, forty four in number, to the hero of the Green Mountains.

In a short time the men who had been left on the opposite side of the lake, under Colonel Warner, had come over and joined their comrades in celebrating a triumph achieved without the sacrifice of a single life. On the same day Warner was sent with a detachment of men to take Crown Point, which being garrisoned by a sergeant and twelve men only, was surrendered without resistance.

Thus, on the tenth day of May, 1775, was achieved by the colonies the first important conquests of the Revolutionary War, conquests in which the citizens of Pittsford felt a deep interest and in the honors of which they are entitled to a humble share, inasmuch as Captain Cooley and his recruits were among the first to cross the lake, to enter the covered passage, and to parade upon the square within Fort Ticonderoga, as well as after taking part at Crown Point. At the time of this, the first call upon Pittsford for troops to serve in the war of the Revolution, there were within the limits of the township thirty eight families, which, including the children, amounted to about one hundred and ninety five individuals, who were nearly all loyal to the cause of their country. But they shared the ill feeling subsisting between the people of the New Hampshire Grants and the governing authorities of New York, to which province they nominally belonged. They were unwilling to enter the military service unless they could do this independently of the government they so much detested. But the Green Mountain Boys, having established a reputation for patriotism and bravery, were urged to enter the field, and arrangements were made by which they could do this as an independent corps and under officers of their own selection. Ethan Allen received a heavy majority vote to be their commander, and before many months passed he led his men, including Captain Cooley, in an invasion of Canada. In co operation with other troops they captured Fort Chambly, but were left in the lurch at the attack on Montreal, Allen being captured. The escaping men returned to their homes.

The Vermont frontiersmen had now established American control of their region, and the British were concentrating on other quarters, so there was relative peace at Pittsford for many months, though the troops were always in readiness for war.

The day of July 7, 1777 was one of great excitement in Pittsford. It was well known that Burgoyne, with a powerful British army, had turned his efforts to Vermont and was about to invest Ticonderoga, and that, with the fall of that fortress, Pittsford and other frontier towns would be exposed to the incursions not only of the British but of their allies the Tories and Indians. The lively discharge of musketry at Hubbardton, which was distinctly heard in Pittsford that day, told but too plainly that the first great obstacle in Burgoyne's progress was very possibly being overcome and that the conflict had been brought to the very borders of Pittsford township. Should the Americans be defeated in this engagement, the enemy might be expected to sweep through the town, spreading destruction and ruin. Every eye was turned towards Hubbardton, and the people were running hither and thither, eager to catch the earliest tidings from the scene of conflict. Thus the hours wore away in fearful suspense, not to be relieved when a few fugitives from the bloody field rushed over the mountain and revealed the sad disaster that had befallen the American arms.

Few of the inhabitants of Pittsford slept in their houses that night. Expecting every moment an attack by plundering parties from the British army, or by their more ferocious allies, the Indians, who were known to be hovering in the vicinity, they secreted or carried with them their most valuable personal effects, and betook themselves to the woods, where they awaited in painful apprehension the approach of another day.

When morning arrived the women and children fled, some returning to the towns from which they had emigrated. Captain Benjamin Cooley placed his wife, Ruth, upon a horse, and having two children at the time, he put one in each of two pioneer baskets, which were about three feet long, twenty inches wide and fourteen inches deep, and had two holes on either side, beneath the rim, to receive straps by which they were suspended from the saddle, one on either side of the horse. In this way they crossed the mountains, the father carrying his gun and leading the horse, while accompanying his family to Greenwich, his native town. There Ruth and the children remained, and a few months later Ruth gave birth to their third child. Benjamin returned to Pittsford to assist his fellow townsmen in defending their possessions. Before escaping, the Cooleys hid some of their belongings in the cove near the house, but these could never afterwards be found.

From this period to the close of the war the inhabitants of Pittsford saw perilous times. The Indians, instigated by the British, were almost continually lurking in the vicinity, ready at any moment to take advantage of the defenseless condition of the inhabitants, who, although they built a fort as a place of refuge, had to hunt and farm in order to survive. The area of Pittsford had in former years been the Indian's favorite hunting ground, and they were familiar with every part of it. Not unfrequently they were also guided by a despicable set of Tories, who understood the exact location and condition of every family in the township. Some of the inhabitants were taken away captive; houses were plundered and burnt; and other acts of devastation were committed. Benjamin Cooley served his countrymen well, both in helping the workings of the community and participating in military action at various places as the war progressed.

In 1778 he traveled to Greenwich to see his family, and as he was about to return to Pittsford, he urged his youngest brother, Caleb, to accompany him. Their father, as a special inducement to go, offered to give Caleb one hundred acres of the wild lands in Pittsford. He consented to go, for a few months, and the two brothers resided together, cooking their own provisions and living mostly on wild meat and corn bread. The corn used had either to be pulverized in a mortar, or carried to Charlestown or Bennington to be ground, as neither of the grist-mills in Pittsford was then in a condition to do work.

In 1779 Benjamin returned his family to Pittsford, as the dangers had subsided somewhat, though not as much, perhaps, as was thought. The next April Ruth became ill and was being nursed by Mrs. John May. One evening Benjamin went on horseback to carry their friend to her home. While returning, his horse suddenly stopped and appeared very much frightened. What! said the Captain, do you smell a Tory? By applying his whip to the animal he succeeded in forcing him along.

No more was thought of the circumstance at the time, but in 1781, while Captain Cooley was on duty at the fort, he received a note from Roger Stevens, Jr., a former resident of Pittsford who had joined the cause of the British. He was in the vicinity at the head of a scouting party of Indians and Tories and requested an interview with the Captain, appointing a time and place. He asked Benjamin, moreover, to appear there with his side arms, and assured him that he would meet him alone, unarmed, and as a friend.

The Captain complied and had a long visit with his old neighbor. In the course of the conversation Stevens remarked to the Captain that he supposed his former townsmen censured him very much for the part he had acted in the war; but he stated that he had been governed by his convictions of duty, and that notwithstanding the course he had taken, he was then and always had been, a friend to the people of Pittsford, and that he had done them many favors of which they were entirely ignorant. He said that when the Indians had taken any of their number prisoner he had used his influence in saving their lives, mitigating their sufferings, and effecting their release from captivity. To convince the Captain that he had refrained from exercising his power to harm the inhabitants, he asked him if he remembered the evening when returning from Mr. May's when his horse became frightened and refused to proceed, and Benjamin had inquired of the animal if he smelt a Tory. The Captain replied in the affirmative. Well, said Stevens, I was but a few feet from you with a party of Indians, and might easily have killed you or made you a prisoner; but wishing you well I refrained, though against the wishes of the Indians.

The war continued, mainly in parts distant from the Green Mountains, and at last resulted in victory for the Americans. But all was not automatically peace and prosperity. The people of Pittsford, along with their neighbors, had a long struggle to recover from the effects of the revolution, especially from the problems of debt, currency devaluation, and not enough crop harvest to feed all the people. As one of the chief officers of the town Benjamin Cooley did his utmost to see that justice was done, and that the people should make every effort for the common good. Because of their faith in him he was several times elected by his friends and neighbors to be their representative to the General Assembly of the State; he served in this capacity during the years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, and 1797.

Gideon Cooley, who first saw visions of settling Pittsford, and enlisted the help of his brother Benjamin to accomplish his dream, did not remain to live out his days here. Though he served with his townsmen during the Revolutionary War, and took part in the struggles after, he decided, in 1793, to pioneer again, and moved on to Canada with his family. Several of the other brothers and sisters settled in Vermont, at Pittsford and adjacent towns; and even the parents came eventually. Military, civic, and agricultural interests were augmented in the life of Benjamin Cooley by the sincere and deep interest he had in religion. Both he and Ruth were faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and as there was no place of worship for this denomination in Pittsford, the meetings were for some time held in their home, the frame house that had early replaced the log cabin. However, on one occasion in 1798 an unusually large congregation had assembled to attend the Quarterly Meeting. In order to provide dinner for so many people, very hot fires were built in the large fireplaces. A chimney caught fire, and the house and most of the contents were burned, the people being too excited to carry to a place of safety the things that were thrown from the upper windows. One young man did save a large iron kettle from the flames by carrying it across the small river to a safe place.

Another house was soon built, the second floor being made into a hall for church meetings. In this, over the years, Colonel Cooley taught a Bible Class, the class continuing beyond the time of his death. After some time the members met in other quarters, but each year, on a certain Sunday in October, they assembled out at the old Cooley home, accompanied by as many townspeople as cared to join them, held services, and had a picnic dinner. In 1927, more than a hundred years after the death of its founder, the Colonel Benjamin Cooley Bible Class erected a small white marble monument near the house he built, the inscription being: House 100 ft. w. erected by Col. Benj. Cooley in 1798. Second floor planned and used for first Methodist preaching in Pittsford. Col. Benjamin Cooley Bible Class 1927.

Benjamin and Ruth reared a large family of sons and daughters. Some of them stayed in Vermont, and others, with their father's love of adventure, pushed on to the frontiers of New York and Michigan. Benjamin Cooley is described as a man who had received a religious education and was deeply imbued with the spirit of Christianity; who had toiled with his neighbors to lay broad and deep the foundations of the social and religious institutions of Pittsford; who was foremost in every enterprise pertaining to the material prosperity of the people; and who was looked upon as a model of stability, and the embodiment of almost every manly virtue. He and his devoted wife, Ruth, who was also highly esteemed, lived to the ages of sixty four and sixty seven, respectively, and their passing was a great loss to the community. They were buried in the cemetery back of the church in Pittsford, their gravestones containing the following inscriptions:

In Memory of Col. Benj. Cooley who Died Feb. 27, 1810 in the 65 year of his age. He was one of the first settlers in this town, An officer in the Revolutionary War, And a friend to God and man. If worth departed claims a tender tear, Pause, friend or stranger, pause, and shed it here.

In Memory of Ruth wife of Col. Benj. Cooley who Died Sept. 5, 1825 in the 68 year of her age. All this was she in social life, The mother, sister, friend and wife. The closet, field and shady grove, All shared her prayer, her vows, her love. Her rest is long, her rest is sweet, Her joys divine, her bliss complete. This, this alone, her friends doth cheer, And joy wipes all the failing tear.

GEDCOM Note

Benjamin Cooley and Ruth Beach.

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Adapted from History of Pittsford, Vermont, by A. M. Caverly, with added information primarily from Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, Vol. 3, pages 203, 204..

.

Benjamin Cooley, the son of Benjamin Cooley and Mary Needham, was born April 30, 1747, at Greenwich, Massachusetts, where he grew to young manhood..

Benjamin's older brother, Gideon, served as a soldier in the French and Indian War, during which time he traveled in what became the state of Vermont. One particu­lar wilderness part of this area, which had been designated Pittsford, received his highest admira­tion, and eventually, in 1766, he traveled back from his home in Green­wich, to make a more thorough exploration. He was able to secure promise of a deed to just the spot he wanted, if he would occupy and improve the land. Thus encour­aged, he hastened to Greenwich to get his younger brother, Benjamin, to accompany him to Pittsford and assist him in making improvements upon his land. But Benjamin being only nineteen years of age, his father refused to give him his time. It was finally agreed that Gideon should remain in Greenwich and work for his father one year, in compensation for a year of Ben­jamin's time. Gideon's share of the contract having been performed, early in the summer of 1767, the two brothers, taking a package of provisions, axes, shovel and hoe, set out on their one horse to make for themselves a future home in the wilderness..

After arriving in Pittsford they made a rude shelter, then com­menced a clear­ing, and in a short time began to build a log house. In this they paid little attention to the rules of architecture, but gave to it such shape and proportions as appeared to them best adapted to their more urgent necessities. Their living consisted mostly of game with which the woods abounded, though the streams contributed no insignificant amount of fish. With the exception of one or two trips to Bennington to procure a few of the necessities of life, they spent the summer at Pittsford. They enlarged their clear­ing, completed the house, and made such general arrangements as would enable them to resume their improvements another year to better advantage. In the fall they went back to Greenwich where they spent the winter. Early in May the next year they returned to Pittsford, bringing with them the seeds for a future harvest..

Up to this time Benjamin had supposed that he was to share equal­ly with his brother in the land they had taken up, and in the improve­ments. But now, to his great disappointment, he learned that Gideon had both the land and the improvements secured to himself. This pro­duced some alienation of feeling, and Benjamin left his brother, went to the township of Addison and took up a lot of land on the border of Lake Champlain. Gideon, however, remained in Pittsford, and with the assistance of a hired man, continued the improvements upon his land. During that season he raised some corn, potatoes and other vegetab­les, and got his place ready for the reception of his wife and chil­dren the following year. He returned to Greenwich in the fall, and dur­ing the winter made the necessary arrangements for the removal of his family. In the meantime, Benjamin had labored at Addison through the summer of 1768, but in the fall he suffered so severely from in­termittent fever that he abandoned his land upon the lake and returned to Greenwich. During the winter, Gideon, probably actu­ated by sym­pathy for his brother, and by desire of reconciliation, applied for, and obtained, for Benjamin, the pledge of a deed of one hundred acres, on condition that Benjamin should improve and occupy it. This was satisfactory to the younger brother; the past differences of the two were forgotten; and they made the needful arrange­ments for removing to the wilderness of Vermont as early in the spring as the condi­tion of the roads would permit..

Procuring two horses for the occasion, Gideon, his wife and five children, accom­panied by Benjamin, set out about the first of May on the journey. Their scanty furniture and domestic utensils were packed in sacks that were carried upon the backs of the horses. Thus encumbered, their progress was necessarily slow, but after a toilsome journey, attended with many vexatious delays, they reached the humble log cabin far removed from the haunts of civilization. This dates the beginning of the set­tle­ment of Pittsford by the European race. The exact day was not recorded, but that it was in May there can be little doubt..

They at once "set up house-keeping," and during that year the two brothers worked together. By hard labor they succeeded in raising a comfortable supply of provisions. Besides cultivating the land which had been cleared on Gideon's lot, they made a clearing and some other improvements on Benjamin's lot, which was located a little more than a mile north of Gideon's tract. The two Cooleys having per­formed their part of the contract, in the fall they were presented with deeds to their lands..

Thus one solitary family is quietly settled in the wilder­ness of Pittsford. During the winter of 1769-70 the Cooleys stay close to home. Early in the spring, however, Gid­eon emerges from his seclusion and reports himself to the world. It appears that the family had passed the winter comfortably, living in part upon veg­etables raised the previous season, and in part upon venison, an abundance of which was readily obtained. Most of the cooking was done in a small iron kettle brought with them from Greenwich. This utensil was preserved in the Cooley family as a relic of that olden time. There is a tradition in the family that the brothers also killed sev­enteen bears that winter..

Gideon reported that some leisure hours during the past cold months had been used in the preliminary arrangements for making map­le sugar when spring came. The brothers manufactured sap-sprouts, and from split logs excavated small troughs (the antecedents of buckets). They were obliged to obtain their kettles from Bennington, but on ac­count of the depth of snow it was impossible to go there with a horse. Gideon had now made the journey on snow-shoes. Without a load this was easily accom­plished, but after he had purchased his two kettles and attempted to return with them, their combined weight was more than he could carry. Being determined to accomplish the ob­ject of his journey, he carried one kettle a short distance, and set­ting this down, returned and got the other; and thus he persevered un­til he had carried both home. How much sugar was made that spring as the effect of this labor is unknown, but it is reason­able to assume that their grocery bill for the year 1770 con­tained no maple sugar..

Benjamin devoted his time to improvements upon his tract, though he contin­ued to board in his brother's family until 1771, when he built a log house. In this he resided alone until the eighteenth day of February, 1773, when he married Ruth Beach. She was born in Morristown, New Jersey, January 11, 1756, but at the time of her mar­riage was residing in Rutland, Vermont. After occupying the log house a few years Benjamin built a new frame one..

In the year 1770, seven individuals with their families, influ­enced by the glow­ing accounts they had heard of the new country, cast their lot among the pioneers of the wilderness of Pittsford; and each year after that brought more settlers, so that a town was born. Benjamin Cooley was very active in the affairs of the town, being Clerk and Treasurer for many years, and also serving on various committees, including those to lay out land and highways; in addition he was an officer in the militia, even­tu­ally reaching the rank of Colonel..

The early settlers had scarcely become established in their new homes, ere they found themselves involved in a controversy which had for some time existed between New Hampshire and New York, respecting their division line. Both states claimed the area that became Ver­mont, and although New Hampshire had granted much of the land, the unscrupulous governors of New York were selling it again (to put money into their own pockets). The original settlers were understand­ably upset by people try­ing to take over the land they had improved, lived upon, and grown to love. When peti­tions to the New York gov­ernment failed to curtail the unjust sale and seizure of land, the inhabitants took matters into their own hands to prevent such acti­vities. The men of Pittsford and the adjacent area organized them­selves into a military corps and assumed the name of Green Mountain Boys, in derision or defiance of a threat said to have been made by Governor Tryon of New York that he would drive the rebellious set­­tlers into the Green Mountains..

Apparently the Green Mountain Boys, in their dealings with the Yorkers (as the New York officers were called) were governed by a code of laws enacted by their own conventions. They were care­ful to have all these laws faithfully executed, and were ready to mete out to any offending Yorker such punishment as they considered due for the quality of his crime. One of these penalties occasionally, though not often, inflicted was the application of the beach seal, termed in allusion to the great seal of New Hampshire affixed to the grants made by the governor of that province, of which the beach rod well laid on the naked backs of the Yorkers and their adherents was humor­ously considered a confirmation..

There is one well-authenticated instance of the infliction of the beach seal punishment within the limits of Pittsford. It appears that a New York surveyor, with several assistants, was sent into the area to locate some land. Intelligence of their appearance and object rapidly spread, and in a few hours Captain Benjamin Cooley, at the head of a party of the Green Mountain Boys, was in rapid pursuit. The Yorkers were overtaken, arrested, and brought before three men who acted as judges. After going through the forms of a trial the ver­dict was to the effect "that the head surveyor should have the appli­cation of the beach seal and that his assistants should be dis­charged on condition that they pledge themselves to offend no more." The sur­veyor was accordingly tied to a tree, and the beach rod was applied to his naked back, or (as Benjamin Cooley was accustomed to phrase it) ­was given a "sound drubbing." The culprit was then warned that if he repeated the offense the punishment would be death. This transaction was published on the authority of those who had frequently heard Col. Cooley give an account of it, and no one acquainted with him would doubt his veracity..

The disturbances growing out of the conflicting claims to the New Hampshire Grants, in which the inhabitants of Pittsford had been com­pelled to take part, subsided somewhat in consequence of public atten­tion being directed to the more exciting sub­ject of a war with England. However much of personal interest the early settlers of these grants had in an equitable adjustment of the long enduring land-title contro­versy, they were willing to postpone further proceedings in relation to it, in order that they might the better co-operate with their country­men in resisting the unjust claims of the British government. And when, on the 19th of April, 1775, the impending war was opened by the con­flict at Lexington, when the last flickering hope of a peaceful solu­tion of the difficulties with England was extinguished, and the colon­ies were hastily preparing for the struggle, every nerve being strained to its utmost tension -- most of the people of these grants, being in full sympathy with the New England colonies from which they had emigrated, espoused heartily the common cause and made the needful pre­parations for aiding in its defense. After the war Vermont became a state independ­ent of both New York and New Hampshire..

It had long been foreseen by the colonies, that in the event of a war with the mother country, it would be very essential for them to possess the important British-held fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Accordingly, on receiving the first intelligence of the battle of Lexington, a number of men in Connecticut procured the necessary funds and sent on foot an expedition for the capture of these military posts. On arriving at Bennington, Vermont, they were joined by Colonel Ethan Allen, one of the Green Mountain Boys, who eagerly enlisted in the enterprise, and together they proceeded to Castleton, where a council of the committee of war was held to decide upon future operations. It was thought best to send Captain Noah Phelps, of Simsbury, Connecticut, to Ticonderoga to examine into its situation and condition and make report to his associates. He passed over the lake in a boat, in the rustic garb of a farmer, and put up at a house near the fort for the night, where several of the officers were collected for a supper party. He listened to their conversation respecting the commotions in the colonies, and the defenseless condi­tion of the post, without taking any apparent interest in what they said..

In the morning he gained admission into the fort for the pur­pose of being shaved. Having learned the number of men in the garrison and ascertained that their ammunition was damaged, he engaged the boatman to take him across the lake. Then he returned to Castleton where he reported what he had seen and heard. Allen immedi­ately dis­patched Major Gershom Beach as a messenger to collect men to meet his party at a place since known as Hand's Point, in the town of Shoreham. Beach trekked on foot to Rutland, Pittsford, Neshobe (now Brandon), Middlebury, Whiting and Shoreham, making a circuit of sixty miles in twenty-four hours..

In passing through Pittsford Major Beach called at the farm of his son-in-law, Captain Benjamin Cooley, to whom he delivered the message of Colonel Allen. Cap­tain Cooley at once left his field, seized his gun, and taking with him four other men, proceeded to the appointed place of rendezvous. Allen and his men were led through the wilderness by their pilot imitating the notes of the cuckoo. When they came to Lake Champlain, to a place since called Hand's Cove, the men concealed themselves from the view of the enemy by lying in a ravine. Here they were joined by the recruits raised by Major Beach, among whom were Captain Cooley and his Pittsford Boys. Allen, finding here no adequate means of conveying his men across the lake, sent messengers to Bridport and Addison to procure boats. They reached Bridport in the night, and made their object known to a Mr. Stone, in whose chamber a couple of young men were sleeping. When he awak­ened them they promptly arose and, after receiving instructions, proceeded to the fort at Crown Point and persuaded a negro, who had charge of the boats belonging to the garrison, to row them as far as Shore­ham, where they pretended there was to be a squirrel hunt the next day-- promising him as a compensation a jug of rum. The boats did not arrive at the rendezvous until towards morning of the next day..

The men numbered two hundred and seventy in all, two hundred and thirty of whom were Green Mountain Boys, all eager to embark and share in the perils and honors of that daring enterprise. The boats, however, were insufficient to carry all. Only eighty-three of the two hundred and seventy passed over, leaving one hundred and eighty-­seven behind, to be sent for immediately after the landing of the first party. The men had to row nearly two miles before they reached the shore on the west side of the lake a little north of Willow Point, and it began to be light, so Allen determined not to await the arrival of the rest of the men from the other side, but to push on imme­di­ately to the attack. They set forward under the guidance of a young man named Beman, about eighteen years old, who had spent much time at the fort and was well acquainted with all the passages and buildings, in­cluding the quarters of the officers and soldiers. As they proceeded through a covered passage into the fort they came upon a sentinel, who was unaware of their approach and had not given the alarm. At sight of the enemy he instinctively snapped his gun at Allen, who parried the weapon with his sword, and struck a blow at the soldier's head which inflicted a wound that probably would have killed him if the force of the blow had not been abated by colli­sion with a comb which was in the soldier's hair. Allen pushed on to the apartment oc­cupied by Captain De La Place, who was yet in bed, and demanded the immediate surrender of the fort in the name of powers, for one of which the British commander had little respect, however much he might have had for the other..

With such celerity had the men under Allen entered the fort and paraded them­selves in the open area within, while the soldiers were yet sleeping in their barracks, that aroused thus suddenly from their slumbers no opportunity was offered them to organize, and resistance in such circumstances being impracticable was not for a moment to be thought of. In a few minutes the officers and men were paraded on the square embraced within the walls and surrendered themselves, for­ty-four in number, to the hero of the Green Mountains..

In a short time the men who had been left on the opposite side of the lake, under Colonel Warner, had come over and joined their comrades in celebrating a tri­umph achieved without the sacrifice of a single life. On the same day Warner was sent with a detachment of men to take Crown Point, which being garrisoned by a sergeant and twelve men only, was surrendered without resistance..

Thus, on the tenth day of May, 1775, was achieved by the colon­ies the first important conquests of the Revolutionary War, conquests in which the citizens of Pittsford felt a deep interest and in the honors of which they are entitled to a humble share, inasmuch as Cap­tain Cooley and his recruits were among the first to cross the lake, to enter the covered passage, and to parade upon the square within Fort Ticonde­roga, as well as after taking part at Crown Point..

At the time of this, the first call upon Pittsford for troops to serve in the war of the Revolution, there were within the limits of the township thirty-eight families, which, including the children, amounted to about one hundred and ninety-five individ­uals, who were nearly all loyal to the cause of their country. But they shared the ill feel­ing subsisting between the people of the New Hampshire Grants and the governing authorities of New York, to which province they nominally belonged. They were unwill­ing to enter the military service unless they could do this independently of the government they so much detested. But the Green Mountain Boys, having established a reputation for patriotism and bravery, were urged to enter the field, and arrange­ments were made by which they could do this as an indepen­dent corps and under officers of their own selection. Ethan Allen received a heavy majority vote to be their commander, and before many months passed he led his men, including Captain Cooley, in an inva­sion of Canada. In co-operation with other troops they captured Fort Chambly, but were left in the lurch at the attack on Montreal, Allen being captured. The escaping men returned to their homes..

The Vermont frontiersmen had now established American control of their region, and the British were concentrating on other quarters, so there was relative peace at Pittsford for many months, though the troops were always in readiness for war..

The day of July 7, 1777 was one of great excitement in Pittsford. It was well known that Burgoyne, with a powerful British army, had turned his efforts to Vermont and was about to invest Ticonderoga, and that, with the fall of that fortress, Pittsford and other frontier towns would be exposed to the incursions not only of the British but of their allies the Tories and Indians. The lively discharge of musketry at Hubbardton, which was distinctly heard in Pittsford that day, told but too plainly that the first great obstacle in Burgoyne's progress was very possibly being overcome and that the conflict had been brought to the very borders of Pittsford township. Should the Ameri­cans be defeated in this engagement, the enemy might be expected to sweep through the town, spreading destruction and ruin. Every eye was turned towards Hubbardton, and the people were running hither and thither, eager to catch the earliest tidings from the scene of con­flict. Thus the hours wore away in fearful suspense, not to be re­lieved when a few fugitives from the bloody field rushed over the mountain and revealed the sad disaster that had befallen the Ameri­can arms..

Few of the inhabitants of Pittsford slept in their houses that night. Expecting every moment an attack by plundering parties from the British army, or by their more ferocious allies, the Indians, who were known to be hovering in the vicinity, they secreted or carried with them their most valuable personal effects, and betook them­selves to the woods, where they awaited in painful apprehension the approach of another day..

When morning arrived the women and children fled, some returning to the towns from which they had emigrated. Captain Benjamin Cooley placed his wife, Ruth, upon a horse, and having two children at the time, he put one in each of two "pioneer baskets," which were about three feet long, twenty inches wide and fourteen inches deep, and had two holes on either side, beneath the rim, to receive straps by which they were suspended from the saddle, one on either side of the horse. In this way they crossed the mountains, the father carrying his gun and leading the horse, while accompanying his family to Greenwich, his native town. There Ruth and the children remained, and a few months later Ruth gave birth to their third child. Benja­min returned to Pittsford to assist his fellow townsmen in defending their possessions. Before escaping, the Cooleys hid some of their belongings in the cove near the house, but these could never afterwards be found..

From this period to the close of the war the inhabitants of Pittsford saw peril­ous times. The Indians, instigated by the British, were almost continually lurking in the vicinity, ready at any moment to take advantage of the defenseless condition of the inhabitants, who, although they built a fort as a place of refuge, had to hunt and farm in order to survive. The area of Pittsford had in former years been the Indians' favo­rite hunting ground, and they were familiar with every part of it. Not unfrequently they were also guided by a despicable set of Tories, who understood the exact location and condition of every family in the township. Some of the inhabitants were taken away captive; houses were plundered and burnt; and other acts of devastation were committed. Benjamin Cooley served his countrymen well, both in helping the work­ings of the community and participating in military action at various places as the war progressed..

In 1778 he traveled to Greenwich to see his family, and as he was about to return to Pittsford, he urged his youngest brother, Caleb, to accompany him. Their father, as a special inducement to go, offered to give Caleb one hundred acres of the wild lands in Pittsford. He consented to go, for a few months, and the two brothers resided together, cooking their own provisions and living mostly on wild meat and corn bread. The corn used had either to be pulverized in a mortar, or carried to Char­les­town or Bennington to be ground, as neither of the grist-mills in Pittsford was then in a condition to do work..

In 1779 Benjamin returned his family to Pittsford, as the dangers had subsided somewhat, though not as much, perhaps, as was thought. The next April Ruth became ill and was being nursed by Mrs. John May. One evening Benjamin went on horseback to carry their friend to her home. While returning, his horse suddenly stopped and appeared very much frightened. "What!" said the Captain, "Do you smell a Tory?" By applying his whip to the animal he succeeded in forcing him along. .

No more was thought of the circumstance at the time, but in 1781, while Cap­tain Cooley was on duty at the fort, he received a note from Roger Stevens, Jr., a former resident of Pitts­ford who had joined the cause of the British. He was in the vici­nity at the head of a scouting party of Indians and Tories and requested an inter­view with the Captain, appointing a time and place. He asked Benja­min, moreover, to appear there with his side arms, and assured him that he would meet him alone, unarmed, and as a friend. .

The Captain complied and had a long visit with his old neighbor. In the course of the conversation Stevens remarked to the Captain that he supposed his former towns­men censured him very much for the part he had acted in the war; but he stated that he had been governed by his convic­tions of duty, and that notwithstanding the course he had taken, he was then and always had been, a friend to the people of Pitts­ford, and that he had done them many favors of which they were entirely ignorant. He said that when the Indians had taken any of their num­ber prisoner he had used his influ­ence in saving their lives, miti­gating their sufferings, and effecting their release from captivity. To convince the Captain that he had refrained from exercising his power to harm the inhabitants, he asked him if he remembered the evening when return­ing from Mr. May's when his horse became fright­ened and refused to proceed, and Benjamin had inquired of the animal if he smelt a Tory. The Captain replied in the affirmative. "Well," said Stevens, "I was but a few feet from you with a party of Indians, and might easily have killed you or made you a prisoner; but wishing you well I refrained, though against the wishes of the Indians.".

The war continued, mainly in parts distant from the Green Moun­tains, and at last resulted in victory for the Americans. But all was not automatically peace and pros­perity. The people of Pittsford, along with their neighbors, had a long struggle to recover from the effects of the revolution, especially from the problems of debt, cur­rency devaluation, and not enough crop harvest to feed all the people. As one of the chief officers of the town Benjamin Cooley did his ut­most to see that justice was done, and that the people should make every effort for the common good. Because of their faith in him he was several times elected by his friends and neighbors to be their representative to the General Assembly of the State; he served in this capacity during the years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, and 1797..

Gideon Cooley, who first saw vis­ions of settling Pittsford, and enlisted the help of his brother Benjamin to accomplish his dream, did not remain to live out his days here. Though he served with his townsmen during the Revolu­tionary War, and took part in the struggles after, he decided, in 1793, to pioneer again, and moved on to Can­ada with his family. Several of the other brothers and sisters settled in Vermont, at Pittsford and adjacent towns; and even the parents came eventually..

Military, civic, and agricultural interests were augmented in the life of Benja­min Cooley by the sincere and deep interest he had in religion. Both he and Ruth were faithful members of the Method­ist Episcopal Church, and as there was no place of worship for this denomination in Pittsford, the meetings were for some time held in their home, the frame house that had early replaced the log cabin. However, on one occasion in 1798 an unusually large congregation had assembled to attend the Quar­terly Meeting. In order to provide din­ner for so many people, very hot fires were built in the large fire­places. A chimney caught fire, and the house and most of the con­tents were burned, the people being too excited to carry to a place of safety the things that were thrown from the upper windows. One young man did save a large iron kettle from the flames by carrying it across the small river to a safe place..

Another house was soon built, the second floor being made into a hall for church meetings. In this, over the years, Colonel Cooley taught a Bible Class, the class continuing beyond the time of his death. After some time the members met in other quarters, but each year, on a certain Sunday in October, they assembled out at the old Cooley home, accompanied by as many townspeople as cared to join them, held services, and had a picnic dinner. In 1927, more than a hundred years after the death of its founder, the "Colonel Benjamin Cooley Bible Class" erected a small white mar­ble monument near the house he built, the inscription being: "House 100 ft. w. erected by Col. Benj. Cooley in 1798. Second floor planned and used for first Methodist preach­ing in Pittsford. -- Col. Benjamin Cooley Bible Class 1927.".

Benjamin and Ruth reared a large family of sons and daughters. Some of them stayed in Vermont, and others, with their father's love of adventure, pushed on to the frontiers of New York and Mich­igan..

Benjamin Cooley is described as a man who had received a relig­ious education and was deeply imbued with the spirit of Christian­ity; who had toiled with his neigh­bors to lay broad and deep the foundations of the social and religious institutions of Pittsford; who was foremost in every enterprise pertaining to the material prosperity of the people; and who was looked upon as a model of stability, and the embodiment of almost every manly virtue. He and his devoted wife, Ruth, who was also highly esteemed, lived to the ages of sixty-four and sixty-seven, respectively, and their pass­ing was a great loss to the community. They were buried in the cemetery back of the church in Pittsford, their gravestones containing the following inscriptions:.

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In Memory of Col. Benj. Cooley .

who Died Feb. 27, 1810 in the 65 year of his age. .

He was one of the first settlers in this town, .

An officer in the Revolutionary War, .

And a friend to God and man. .

"If worth departed claims a tender tear, .

Pause, friend or stranger, pause, and shed it here.".

.

In Memory of Ruth wife of Col. Benj. Cooley .

who Died Sept. 5, 1825 in the 68 year of her age. .

All this was she in social life, .

The mother, sister, friend and wife. .

The closet, field and shady grove,.

All shared her prayer, her vows, her love. .

Her rest is long, her rest is sweet, .

Her joys divine, her bliss complete. .

This, this alone, her friends doth cheer, .

And joy wipes all the failing tear..

view all 31

Col. Benjamin Cooley's Timeline

1747
April 30, 1747
Greenwich, Hampshire County, Province of Massachusetts
1774
January 9, 1774
Pittsford,Rutland,Vermont
January 9, 1774
Pittsford, Rutland, Vermont, USA
1775
November 14, 1775
Pittsford, Rutland County, VT, United States
November 19, 1775
Pittsford, Rutland, Vermont, USA
1777
December 31, 1777
South Brimfield, Hampden, Massachusetts
1780
April 7, 1780
Pittsford, Rutland, Vermont
April 7, 1780
Pittsford, Rutland, Vermont, USA