10th Great Grandparents. Thomas Cooper and Sarah Slye
Timothy Cooper and Elizabth Munson
Sarah Cooper and John Woodruff
Timothy Woodruff and Mary Baker
Katherine Woodruff and Benjamin Haines
Hannah Haines and Matthais Spinning
Mary Spinning and Benjamin Morris
Isaac Morris and Jane Tway
Nancy Morris and Whitty Victor
Effie Helen Victor and William J. Williamson
Ima Della, Vennie, Inez, Lillie Ethel, Josie Elvery, Emmett, Walter, Charles, Maurice
From the Fortress of Solitude
Many members of the family will gather here in Utah at the end of the week for the wedding of Jilane Williamson Bodily and Kevin Bodily's son Brayden. Brayden is the grandson of Charles and Luella Williamson.
Today we pause for a moment to learn about our 10th Great Grandfather, Thomas Cooper. There is much on his life outlined in the paragraphs below written, I believe, by Sam Behling (I took the liberty of editing some information to make it an easier read). The Relationship Chart is given above.
The Life of Thomas Cooper
Thomas, frequently mentioned in the records as Ensign or Lieut. Thomas, was enrolled at London as a passenger for New England on the ship Christian at the age of 18 years, thus making his birth date ca 1617. Of Thomas's early life in England nothing has been discovered.
Thomas Cooper was apprenticed to Francis Stiles is evidenced by an order of the Court at Hartford, CT March 28, 1637:
"ord that Mr Francis Stiles shall teach Geo[rge] Chapple, Tho[mas] Coop[e]r & Tho[mas] Barber his servants in the trade of a carpenter according to his promise for their service of their term behind 4 days in a week only to saw and slit their own work that they are to frame themselves with their own hands together with himself or some other master workman, the time to begin for the performance of this order 14 days hence without fail."
Thomas Cooper's first residence was Windsor, CT. He married Sarah Slye.
Sarah was the daughter of George Slye about whom nothing else is known. She was baptized on October 29, 1615 in Lapworth, Warwickshire, England and was the sister of Capt. Robert Slye who settled in Bushwood, on St. Clement's manor, St. Mary's County, Maryland.
On January 27, 1642 the inhabitants of Springfield sold "to the said Thomas Cooper the dwelling house and fouer acres of meddow, more or less, appertayning to the house and fouer acres and about one halfe of the wet marish, before his house, and one acre and one halfe of the corner meddow fenced, and seven acres just over against it on the other side of the river and in future dividents according to a single lott of fouer acre to a house lot." The next year, 1643, he was allotted a house lot of five acres.In 1644 the government of Springfield was changed to place it in the charge of a group of selectmen. Of the first such group Thomas Cooper was a member. The record of the town meeting of July 26 of that year reads:
"It is agreed this day by General Courte that Henry Smith, Tho cooper, Daniel Chapin, Richard Sikes and Henry Burt shall have power to order anything they shall judge for ye good of ye town and to order in all prudential affairs they shall have power for a year space to prevent damage of ye town & they five or any three of them shall also be given power & virtue also to hear complaints, to arbitrate controversies, to lay out High ways, to make bridges, to repair High waies specially to order ye making of ye way over muxie meddow, to see to the scouring of ditches and to the killing of wolves and to training up of the children to some good calling or any other thing they shall judge to be ye profit of ye town."During the next thirty years Cooper would be chosen to be a selectman eighteen times. In some years there was no election and the incumbents would be held over for another term in office.
1645 was a busy year for Thomas since earlier he had agreed to build the meeting-house. On February 28, 1644/5
"a bargain made by the inhabitants of Springfield with Thomas Cooper for the building of a meeting-house to be finished by the 30th September 1646, in consideration of which work the plantation do covenant to pay him four score pounds." This was the first meeting-house in Springfield. It was to be forty feet long and twenty-five feet in width, with two large windows on each side and one on each end. There were to be two turrets, one for a bell and the other to serve as a watch tower. The building was completed by the end of September and at a contract price of £80. After being under construction for less than a month the town agreed that Thomas had satisfactorily completed his contract. He was to receive payment in "wheate, pork, wampum, debts and labor." Thomas was a member of a committee to assign the seats in the meeting-house. On December 23, 1659 and again on February 23, 1662/3, Thomas Cooper was in the front pew. Later on February 3, 1673/4, Thomas was on the committee on crowded conditions in the meeting-house.
Thomas took the oath of fidelity on February 6, 1648/9. He was sworn as freeman (as "Ensign Thomas Cooper") on May 8, 1663. He was elected a Deputy to the General Court on April 29, 1688 (as "Lieut. Tho[mas] Cooper"); on May 27, 1668, "Lieut. Clarke & Lieut. Cooper, on their request, having been long absent from their homes, are dismissed the service of this Court."
Thomas served on many, many important committees of a public nature. Thomas was a member of the Coroner's jury April 7, 1660. He was on the committee on highways and bridges between Springfield and Hadley September 30, 1662, and the committee on highway between Hadley and Windsor September 29, 1663.The town elected Thomas Clerk of the Writs for Springfield February 3, 1662/3. The duties of this office included the issue of summons, granting of writs of attachment in civil cases and to enter in the town books details as to births, deaths and marriages.
He was also made a member of a permanent committee to make grants of land in the Plantation - a task formerly falling to the selectmen.
Thomas had many transactions with the Indians in the purchase and mortgage of land. It was sometimes hard to determine which Sachem had the authority to transfer title. In 1660 Cooper gave a mortgage on a parcel of land supposedly owned by a Woronoco Indian named Amoacussen. In 1664, upon the failure of the Indian to make good on the mortgage, an absolute deed to the property was granted. Three other Sachems now appealed to the court alleging that they, as well as Amoacussen, were owners of the land in question. The court sustained their contention and Cooper was obliged to pay them one hundred ten fathoms of wampum which was to be recovered from Amoacussen.
Most of the settlers were unskilled in dealing with the Indians and often employed experienced traders to conduct negotiations for them in the purchase of land. As such an experienced trader the Plantation of Quabaug, now Brookfield, appealed to Thomas to secure for them the Indian title to the land they were then occupying. In view of the current interest in Indian land titles this transaction is of more than passing interest:
"At a General Court held at Boston 20th May 1660: In Answer to the peticion of severall Inhabitants of Ipswich, This Court Judgeth it meete to Graunt the petitioners sixe miles square or so much land as shall be conteyned in such compasse in a place near Quabaugponds, provided they have twenty families there resident within 3 years, & that they have an able minister, settled there within said terme, such as the Court shall approve, and that they shall make due provision in some way or other for the future, either by setting apart of land or what else shall be thought meete for the continuance of the ministry among them; And if they should fail in any of these particulars above mentioned this Graunt of the Court to be voyed and of none effect." This grant was dated 31 May 1660. In order to begin a settlement and take possession it was necessary to secure title from the Indians who were the owners. The deed to this tract follows:
Here followeth the Deed of the Purchase of the lands at Quabaug, now called Brookfield, from the Indian Shattoockquis together with Lieut. Cooper his designation of the said deed to the Inhabitants of Quabaug now called Brookfield for the said deed was framed in the Name of Lieut. Cooper but indeed for ye only use and behalfe of ye Inhabitants of ye said Plantation called Brookfield; also ye coppy of ye said Lieut. Cooper's acknowledgement of his said resignation before ye worspll Mjr Pynchon.
These presents Testify, that Shattoockquis alias Shadookis the sole and proper owner of certayne lands at Quabaug hereafter named hath for good and valuable consideration him the said Stattoockquis thereunto having given, bargayned and sold and by these presents Doth fully, clearly & absolutely give, Graunt & sell unto Ensign Cooper of Springfield for the use and behoofe of the present English Planters at Quabaug & their Associates, and their successors & to them & their heirs for Ever, certain pcells of land at towards or about the north end of Quabaug pond...etc.
...All of which land afore described together with the trees waters stones profits Commodityes & Advantages thereof & thereupon belonging, the said Ensign Cooper for himself and for the present Planters at Quabaug and their Associates & successors to have and to hold and to enjoy for-Ever.
Also the said Shattoockquis as well as for other considerations as also for & in consideration of the sum of Three Hundred fathom of Wampameage in hand received doth bargayne graunt and Sell All & Singular the aforenamed tract of Land to Ensigne Cooper his successors & assigns as aforesaid & to their heirs for Ever; and the said Shattoockquis doth hereby covenant & promise to & with the said Ensigne Thomas Cooper that he will save ye said Thomas Cooper harm less from all manner of claymes of any person of psons lawfully clayming any right or interest in the said lands hereby sold or in any part thereof & will defend the same from all or any molestation & incumbrance by any Indians lawfully laying clayme or title thereto: In witness whereof the said Shattoockquis hath hereunto sett his hand this the tenth day of November 1665.
Subscribed and delivered in ye presence of Elizur Holyoke, Samuel Chapin & Haphett Chapin.
The mark of Shattoockquis." [picture of a 4-legged animal resembling a fox.]
The mark of Mettawomppe an Indian witness who challenging some interest in the land above sold & received part of ye payment and consented to the sale of it all." [picture of mark resembling a child's swing set]
Shattoockquis an Indian above mentioned did own and acknowledge this to be his act and deed giving up all his right title & interest in the lands above mentioned unto Thomas Cooper his Associates & Assignes as above said this tenth day of November 1665. Before me, John Pynchon.
All of this activity proved to be too much and in the year 1665 he was fined six pence for failing to attend the March 20th town meeting and being unable to provide an acceptable excuse. Up to this time the local corn mill had been able to supply the needs of the Plantation but with the population growth it was no longer able to do so. Cooper was one of a committee appointed February 6, 1665/6 to make the necessary improvements or recommendations for constructing a new one.
In the meantime he served on a committee to draw up plans of the lands of the Plantation to be presented to the General Court for ratification, on another committee to appraise the livestock of the Plantation and on a third to adjudicate the requests of certain settlers to change their lots around to be more convenient for use.
In 1666 he was one of a committee to consider the poor estate of some of the settlers in the Plantation, and in need of relief, reporting to the town with recommendations as to what should be done. In 1667 the minister reported that the minister's residence needed to be enlarged, but that he did not have sufficient funds for the purpose. Cooper served on the committee to make the necessary arrangements and have the work done. The following year £20 was raised to pay the Indians for the Plantation land and of this Cooper's share was eleven shillings. Later some of the settlers failed to pay their allotted shares of this expense. The committee was empowered to recover the overdue payments. At the town meeting of August 16, 1672 Cooper was appointed to join the selectmen in setting the tax rate.Thomas, like all adult men, served in the town's militia. He was chosen ensign of Springfield train band on October 23, 1657 and lieutenant of train band on September 24, 1667. In the midst of all of this activity he was literally unable to keep all of his fences mended, high water due to flooding of the river, saved him from being fined.
Thomas held a variety of occupations besides that of carpenter. On January 10, 1658/9, there is
"liberty granted to Tho[mas] Cooper to keep a ferry at the lower wharf & to land people below the mouth of Agawam River, & none are to carry over any persons, horses, or cattle over the Great River to take any pay except they allow & pay it to the said Tho[mas] CooperÉAnd the privilege of this ferry is granted to him for 21 years from this year 1658."
Both Thomas and his wife were medical practitioners. Thomas in particular had considerable skill as a bone setter, being often called upon throughout the County of Hampshire, as there was no regular physician or surgeon available. On May 28, 1655, John Pynchon, writing to John Winthrop, Jr. about his wife's health, referred to "Goodwife Cooper who hath formerly tended my wife in her weakness," and, on March 7, 1659/60, Pynchon thanked Winthrop for "those prayers of cordial powder you sent my wife by Ensign Cooper." On March 30, 1675,
"Lt. Cooper sending his desires to this Court that seeing he is upon necessity put to go so often to & fro for setting of broke bones & that frequently he hath little or nothing for his labors & for the good done through God's blessing by his means, that the Court would order him he shall be satisfied for such his labors &c. The Court refer consideration thereof to the next Court at Springfield, that he may be consulted & that done which is convenient, for this Court doth judge it altogether reasonable that he should have suitable recompense for such works." (Nothing was ever done in this matter, as Lt. Thomas Cooper was dead six months later.)
Thomas was also an active businessman and fur trader in association with both William and John Pynchon, who supplied with large quantities of beaver pelts and other goods which he exchanged with the Indians. In May 1652, Pynchon made this entry in his books:
"Sold him the Commoditys here following, to be pd in Bever at current prices or in good wampum Sometime wthin ye yeare." In this purchase was 107 yards of Red Shag Cotton at 3s. pr. yd., £16 1s.; "Blew" trading cloth, 206 yards, £90 18s. 9d. In the credits were 206 lbs. of beaver at 9s., £92 14s.; 399 1/2 lbs. of beaver at 10s., £199, 15s.
Under date of February 14, 1658, is this entry:
"I Thomas Cooper Doe hereby acknowledge to have Recd of Mr. John Pynchon a pscell of English goods as they cost in England to ye Sum of Seventeene pounds, wch sum of Seventeene pounds sterling I ingage to pay in England by michalstide next, to whom Mr. John Pynchon shall appoint me in London in England, I ingage to make such allowance as is fit & meete & hereto set my hand this 14th Febr 1658. Thomas Cooper."
It is interesting that Cooper frequently had accounts with Pynchon that were, in those times, very large sums. There seem to have been no serious disagreements, save for one incident involving a trifling amount. This time Cooper resorted to legal action in a dispute over a few shillings. He lost the suit but the court scaled down the amount he was obliged to pay.
Thomas Cooper was not untouched by the witchcraft trials and gave a deposition in the trial of Hugh Parsons in 1651.
The Springfield settlers had lived in peace with their Indian neighbors, Agawams and Pocumtucks, for nearly forty years, with daily and friendly dealings. It was supposed that they had not entered into a conspiracy with Philip (King Philip's War). The Indians professed steadfast friendship for the settlers and had even given hostages who had been sent to Hartford, CT for greater security. The residents of Springfield felt secure in their daily lives. There was an Indian, Toto, living with the family of a Mr. Walcott in Windsor, CT, twenty miles away. On the evening of October 4, 1675 Toto seemed very disturbed and distraught. Upon questioning, he revealed that a plot had been under way for the destruction of Springfield. Aroused after midnight, the settlers took refuge in three fortified houses. Among the group was Thomas Cooper, Lieut. of the militia company, who a short time before had led a party of soldiers from Springfield to the relief of the besieged Brookfield. These were the older men of the town. The younger men under the leadership of Major Pynchon were at Hadley at this time.
By the next day nothing out of the ordinary had occurred and many thought that this had been a false alarm. One of those questioning the accuracy of the alarm was Thomas Cooper. He determined to find out the true state of affairs by a personal visit to the Indian fort. For many years he had dealt with the Agawams and Pocumtucks and knew many of them by name. He felt that no harm could come to him from their hands. Taking with him Thomas Miller, the two rode to the fort. They had gone about a quarter of a mile beyond the last house to the south of the settlement when they were fired upon by unseen foes. Miller was killed instantly. Thomas was fatally wounded, but being an energetic and resolute man, he managed to remount his horse and ride at full gallop back to the nearest house. Before reaching it, he was shot again by the Pocumtucks in hot pursuit. He died upon reaching the house. The Pocumtucks then burst upon the settlement with the greatest fury, burning houses and barns and destroying the livestock.
The killing of Thomas Cooper by the Indians when they burned Springfield must have caused a great shock to the community and his tragic death brought a realizing sense of the defenseless condition of every settlement exposed to a treacherous foe. That Thomas should have had perfect confidence in his ability to dissuade the Indians from their hostile action is not strange. He had been among them for many years and was on familiar terms with many of them for miles around within the vicinity of Springfield. At this time Thomas was a man just under sixty years of age, and a resident of the town for more than thirty years.
In the personal journal of John Pynchon is the entry: "Lieut Thomas Cooper died 5 October 1675." These events may be seen in perspective from the account which John Pynchon gave to Governor Leverett:
To Governor John Leverett, M.A, Springfield, 8 October 1675
I desired Mr Russell to give you an account of the sore stroke upon poor distressed Springfield, which I hope will excuse my late doing of it. On the 4th of October our soldiers which were at Springfield I had called off, leaving none to secure the town because the Commissioners order was so strict. That night post was sent to us that 500 Indians were about Springfield intending to destroy it, so that the 5th of October with about 200 of our soldiers I marched down to Springfield where we found all in flames: about 30 dwelling houses burnt down and 24 to 25 barns, my corn mill, sawmill, and other buildings. Generally men's hay and corn is burnt and many men whose houses stand had their goods burnt in other houses which they had carried them to.
Lieutenant Cooper and two more slain and four persons wounded, two of which are doubtful of their recovery. The Lord hath made us drink deep the cup of sorrow; I desire we may consider the operation of his hand, and what he speak, yet that the town did not utterly perish is cause of great thankfulness. As soon as our forces appeared the Indians all drew off, so that we saw none of them. Sent out scouts that night and the next day, but discovered none, neither can we satisfy ourselves which way they are gone, their tracks being many ways, we think, are gone down the river; our last discovery was of a considerable track upwards. Our endeavors here are to secure the houses and corn that is left, for this sad providence hath obstructed our going out with the army and what can be done I am at great loss. Our people are under great discouragement, talk of leaving the place; we need your orders and direction about it. If it be deserted how woefully do we yield to encourage our insolent enemy and how doth it make way for the giving up of all the towns above it. If it be held, it must be by strength, and many soldiers, and how to have provisions, I mean bread for want of a mill, is difficult; the soldiers here already complain on that account although we have flesh enough; and this very strait. I mean no mill will drive many of our inhabitants away especially those that have no corn, and many of them no houses which fills and throngs up every room of those that have together with our soldiers no (which yet we can not be without) increasing in number. So that indeed it is uncomfortable living her, and for my own particular it were far better for me to go away because here I have not anything left. I mean no corn, neither Indian or English, and no means to keep one beast here, nor can I have relief in this town because so many are destitute. But I resolve to attend to what God calls me to, and to stick it as long as I can, and though I have such great loss of my comforts, yet to do what I can for defending this place. I hope god will make up in himself what is wanting in the creature to me and to us all. This day a post is sent up from Hartford to call off Major Treat with a part of his soldiers, from intelligence they have of a party of Indians lying against Wethersfield on the east side of the river. So that matters here do linger exceedingly, which makes me wonder what the Lord intends with his people, strange providences diverting us in all our hopeful designs and the Lord giving opportunity to the enemy to do us mischief and then hiding them and answering all our prayers by terrible things in righteousness.
Sir, I am no capable of holding any command, being more and more unfit and almost confounded in my understanding. The Lord direct you to pitch on a meeter person than ever I was; according to liberty from the Council I shall devolve upon Captain Appleton unless Major Treat return again, until you shall give your orders as shall meet to yourselves.
To speak my thoughts, all these towns ought to be garrisoned, as I have formerly hinted, and had I been left to myself I should think have done that which possibly might have prevented this damage. But the express order to do as I did was by the wise dispensing hand of God who knew it best for us, and therein we must acquiesce and truly go out after the Indians in the swamps and thickets is to hazard all our men unless we knew where they keep, which is altogether unknown to us, and God hides from us for ends best known to himself.
I have many times thought that the winter were that time to fall on them, but there are such difficulty that I shall leave it, yet suggest it to consideration. I will not trouble you at present, but earnestly crave your prayers for the Lord's undertaking for us and sanctifying all his stroke to us. I remain, Your unworthy servant, John Pynchon.
We are at great hazard if we do not stir out of our wood to be shot down by skulking Indians.
The inventory of the estate of "Thomas Cooper Senior" presented March 28, 1676, totaled £287 8s. of which £150 was real estate: "houses & lands" £150. His inventory included "wheels & cooper's ware" valued at £3 4s.Thomas' wife Sarah died in Northampton on July 18, 1690.