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Cooper Family Papers

Cooper Family Papers

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Guide to the Cooper Family Papers

1786-1947 (bulk 1786-1898)

New York State Historical Association - Research Library
Special Collections
P.O. Box 800, 5798 State Highway 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326
(607) 547-1470

Profile Description

Creation: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-04-08T15:43-0400

Repository: New York State Historical Association - Research Library
Title: Cooper Family Papers
Dates: 1786-1947 (bulk 1786-1898)
Quantity: 1.75 Cubic feet+ 3 volumes + 4 oversize folders
Funding Source:This finding aid was made available electronically through a Regional Bibliographic Data Bases (RBDB) grant from the South Central Regional Library Council, Ithaca, N.Y.
Identification: Coll. No. 123
Language: English

Scope and Content Note

Papers of Judge William Cooper, the founder of Cooperstown, and of his children, Hannah, Isaac, James Fenimore, Samuel, and William. A large part of the collection concerns the land and financial transactions conducted by Judge Cooper and his direct descendants. Of particular interest are deeds, leases, bonds, and mortgages that document his involvement in the settling of Cooperstown and Otsego County, N.Y. His papers also include correspondence, land books, and bankbooks. Isaac Cooper's papers include the contract for building his home, Edgewater. James Fenimore Cooper's papers include correspondence and fragments of literary manuscripts. The collection also contains scattered letters from a few in-laws and grandchildren of Judge Cooper, such as Susan Fenimore Cooper, as well as three photograph albums.

Series Descriptions

Series I. William Cooper. ca. 1786-1940 (bulk 1786-1809). 0.5 cu. ft. (1 box).

Agreements, deeds, bonds, mortgages relating to land and financial transactions conducted by and for William Cooper in Otsego County, New York and other parts of New York State including Dekalb, St. Lawrence County; legal documents relating to his duties as the first judge of the court of common pleas, Cooperstown, N.Y.; personal and business correspondence; a bankbook; and other miscellaneous documents relating to him. Arranged chronologically by year.

Series II. Cooper Family. ca. 1800-1947 (bulk 1800-1898). 0.5 cu. ft. (1 box).

Includes agreements, bonds, leases, and receipts relating to land and business transactions involving descendants of William Cooper; correspondence and personal papers written by and to Cooper family members including a series of letters documenting the final illness and death of Mary Storrs Cooper (d. 1846). Arrangement is roughly alphabetical by name.

Series III. James Fenimore Cooper. ca. 1814-1940 (bulk 1814-1851). 0.5 cu. ft. (1 box).

This series is organized into the following three subseries:

Subseries A -- Correspondence and Legal Documents. Contains personal and business papers of James Fenimore Cooper and his wife Susan DeLancey Fenimore Cooper. Arranged chronologically.

Subseries B -- Literary Manuscripts and Other Writings. Arranged chronologically by publication date of the first editions, unless otherwise noted.

Subseries C -- Checks (Canceled), Otsego Hall Floor Plans, and Other Documents. Contains mostly canceled checks, along with photocopies of floor plans and images of the exterior of Otsego Hall, one page of Cooper family genealogy, and James Fenimore Cooper postage stamps. Arranged chronologically.

Series IV. Photographs. ca. 1840-1900. 0.25 cu. ft. (1 box) + 3 v.

Photographs, daguerreotypes, and tintypes of members of the Cooper family and family friends; the Alfred Cooper Clark family is particularly well represented.

This series is organized into the following two subseries:

Subseries A -- Photograph Albums

Subseries B -- Daguerreotypes, Tintypes, and Photographs

Biographical/Historical note

William Cooper (1754-1809), the first Cooper of Cooperstown, purchased land at the southern end of Otsego Lake -- land known as Croghan's Patent -- in the 1780s in partnership with Andrew Craig. In 1786 Cooper commenced the settlement of Cooperstown and in 1790 he moved his family to the young village.

Cooper, an attorney and land speculator, and several of his twelve children were actively involved in the civic and legal atmosphere of Cooperstown as the town developed and grew. Several of William Cooper's sons continued to pursue their father's interest in land speculation and law. Another of William's sons, James Fenimore Cooper, became renowned as the author of The Leatherstocking Tales and other works on naval history and the American frontier.

Several of William Cooper's children and grandchildren lived in Cooperstown for at least part of their lives, serving the community in a variety of ways. For example, William Cooper's granddaughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894), founded the Orphan Home of the Holy Savior, an orphanage that operated in Cooperstown into the twentieth century.

The Cooper Family Collection includes documents relating to William Cooper, his children, his grandchildren, and a few more distant descendants.

Below is a list of family members represented in the correspondence and other manuscripts in the collection. It includes chronologies. For more detailed information about the Coopers, researchers should consult "The Cooper Genealogy" compiled by Wayne Wright, NYSHA, 1983. For additional information about the founding and history of Cooperstown and the Coopers' influence on them, researchers should consult The History of Cooperstown, a compilation of documentary histories of the village (published by NYSHA) and Ralph Birdsall's The Story of Cooperstown (Fifth Printing by Augur's Bookstore, 1948). Both of these sources and others are available in the NYSHA Research Library.

Biographical Sketches

William Cooper (1754-1809)

1754Born in Byberry Township, Pa., to James and Hannah (Hibbs) Cooper
1774Married Elizabeth Fenimore
1780Moved to Burlington, N.J.; in partnership with Robert Thomas in Burlington
1786Took possession of Croghan's Patent and commenced settlement of Cooperstown, N.Y.
1790Moved to Cooperstown, N.Y.
1791Became first judge of the court of common pleas, Otsego County, N.Y.
1795-1797United States Congress Representative from New York
1796-99Built Otsego Hall
1799-1801United States Congress Representative from New York
1803Bought town of Dekalb, St. Lawrence County, N.Y.

Attorney; involved with many land and financial transactions in Otsego County and elsewhere in the state of New York.

12 children born between 1775 and 1792: Richard Fenimore Cooper, Hannah Cooper, Ann Cooper, Abraham Cooper, Isaac Cooper, Abraham Cooper, Ann Cooper (Pomeroy), Elizabeth Cooper, William Cooper, Samuel Cooper, James Fenimore Cooper, and Henry Fry Cooper.

Children of William and Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper:

Isaac Cooper (1781-1818)

1804Married Mary Ann Morris (1784-1873)
1810Commenced building Edgewater, Cooperstown, N.Y.
1814Moved into Edgewater

Attorney, involved with land transactions, lived in Cooperstown, active in business and civic affairs of the village.

Had seven children born between 1806 and 1816: Mary Morris Cooper (Foote), Elizabeth F. Cooper, Sarah Sabina Cooper (Comstock), Ann Pomeroy Cooper (Crippen), Catherine Frances Cooper (Oathwaite), Jacob Morris Cooper, and Hannah Cooper Wessels.

The collection includes documents relating to Mary Ann Morris Cooper.

Hannah Cooper (1777-1800)

1799Lived in Philadelphia

Attended school in New York City (dates unknown); died after a fall from a horse.

Richard Cooper (1775-1813)

1800Commenced building Apple Hill, Cooperstown, N.Y.
1801Married to Ann Low Carey (d. 1850)

Five children, born from 1802 to 1813: Hannah Cooper, Elizabeth F. Cooper, Goldsborough Cooper, Richard Cooper, Alfred Cooper (Clarke).

Alfred Cooper was born after Richard Cooper's death and Ann Carey Cooper's remarriage to George Clarke. Alfred Cooper, therefore, took the surname Clarke.

Samuel Cooper (1787-1819)

1812Married to Elizabeth (Eliza) Bartlett
1818Serving as Village Trustee, Cooperstown, N.Y.

Involved in land transactions.

Had three children born between 1813 and 1817: Isaac Cooper, William Cooper, and Samuel Cooper.

William F Cooper (1786-1819)

1809Married Eliza Clason

Practiced law in New York City for a while; built a floating battery on Lake Ontario. Had three children: William Yeardley Cooper, Eliza Cooper (Vicat), Isaac Clason Cooper.

James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)

1802-1805Attended Yale
1808-1811Served in the Navy
1811Married Susan Augusta DeLancey (1792-1852)
1813Moved back to Cooperstown, N.Y.
1817Moved to Westchester, N.Y.
1826-1834Lived in Europe
1834Returned to Cooperstown, commenced improvement to Otsego Hall

Author of American fiction including The Leatherstocking Tales and other stories of the American frontier; wrote about naval history as well. Lived in Westchester County, N.Y.; Cooperstown, N.Y.; Scarsdale, N.Y.; New York City; and Europe.

Had seven children born between 1811 and 1824: Elizabeth Cooper, Susan Augusta F. Cooper, Caroline Martha Cooper (Phinney), Anne Charlotte Cooper, Mary Frances F. Cooper (Cooper), Fenimore Cooper, Paul F. Cooper.

The collection includes documents relating to Susan DeLancey Cooper.

Grandchildren of William and Elizabeth Cooper:

Anne Charlotte F. Cooper (1817-1885)

Daughter of James and Susan (DeLancey) Fenimore Cooper

Elizabeth Cooper (1808 or 1809-1879)

Daughter of Isaac and Mary Ann Cooper

1829Married Samuel Wooten Beall
18??Moved to Wisconsin
1836Returned to Cooperstown
18??Went west

Goldsborough Cooper (1806-1832)

Son of Richard and Ann Cooper

Richard Cooper (1808-1862)

Son of Richard and Ann Carey Cooper

18??Married Mary Storrs (d. 1846)
1850Married for the second time; Maria Frances Fenimore Cooper (1819-1898) (Daughter of James Fenimore Cooper)

Attorney; Richard and Mary had seven children between 1832 and 1845; Richard and Maria had four children starting in 1851.

The collection includes a series of letters written about Mary Storrs Cooper's final illness.

Paul F. Cooper (1824-1885)

Son of James and Susan (DeLancey) Fenimore Cooper

1855Married Mary Fuller Barrows (1827-1897)

Attorney with McMartin & Jenkins, Albany, N.Y.; four children born between 1856 and 1861.

Sarah Cooper (1810-1846)

Daughter of Isaac and Mary Ann (Morris) Cooper

1833Married Horace Comstock

Lived in Detroit, Michigan; Comstock was involved with Indian and Military supplies trade; one child born in 1840.

Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894)

Daughter of James and Susan (DeLancey) Fenimore Cooper

1850Published Rural Hours
1861Published Pages and Pictures from the Writing of James Fenimore Cooper
1866Involved in the establishment of the Thanksgiving Hospital
1873Founded the Orphan House of the Holy Savior

Traveling companion to James Fenimore Cooper in his later years.

Other William Cooper Descendants:

Jane Cooper Worthington (1843-1863)

Daughter of Richard and Mary Storrs Cooper

1862Married John Worthington (d. 1909)

Henry S. F. Cooper (1895-1984)

Great Grandson of James Fenimore Cooper

1917Entered Yale
1924Entered Harvard Medical School
19?? - 1934Surgeon at Bellevue Hospital
1937-1960Surgeon at Presbyterian Medical Center, Columbia University

Trustee of Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, N.Y.; lived in Cooperstown and New York City; had four children.


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Administrative Information

Accession Numbers

CM-17.39, CM-53.39, CM-70.39, CM-71.39, CM-90.39, CM-153.39, CM-255.39, CM-7.39L, CM-50.39L, NM-8.40, NM-59.44, NM-190.46, N-1163.46, FM-43.56, NM-6.56, NM-37.56, NM-67.57, NM-45.58, NM-46.58, NM-24.59, NM-81.61, NM-5.64, NM-6.64, NM-50.65, NM-24.67, NM-3.68, NM-40.70, FM-141.73, NM-59.74, NM-48.77, 16, 25, 94, 97-99, 109, 139, 167-170, 470, 533, 703

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