[List] Mathias Cooley, son of Cornelius & Dolly (White) Cooley

Mary Cooley mlcooley at charter.net
Tue Apr 17 22:57:15 PDT 2007

This is taken from the book "Portrait and Biographical Record of the
Willamette Valley Oregon", a compilation of work by a number of writers and
published by Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1903.  Descendants of Mathias
are the owners of the Cooley's Iris Gardens in Silverton, OR.


pages 1183 & 1184:

"MATHIAS COOLEY - Social and political position in the United States is not
dependent on titles or long lines of family ancestry, but is based on a
man's own achievements.  The subject of this writing owes his success to his
individual efforts, and began the battle of life at the early age of
fourteen years.  From a humble beginning, he has risen to a place of success
and honor, an esteemed resident of his community.  Mr. Cooley is now living
a retired life on his farm three miles north of Silverton, Marion County,
and has the distinction of being one of the pioneer settlers of that
section.  His life has been an eventful one and he has followed a variety of
vocations, being also largely instrumental in the upbuilding of his

     Mr. Cooley was born in Platte County, Mo., August 26, 1837, and is a
son of Cornelius and Dolly (White) Cooley, the latter a native of Missouri.
Cornelius Cooley was a Kentuckian by birth.  He settled in Missouri when a
young man, and it was there his marriage took place.  Four sons were born to
him and his wife.  When Mathias was but seven years old, the father died,
and, as he had requested, the lad was placed in the care of a family named
Wilson.  In 1845 the Wilsons crossed the plains to the far west and many
incidents of the long and perilous journey are still fresh in the mind of
Mr. Cooley.  Upon leaving Council Bluffs, Iowa, the emigrants' train
consisted of one hundred wagons, and it required about eight months to make
the journey to Oregon.  Owing to the scarcity of food, the suffering was
intense.  For two weeks they lived on dried salmon skins, which they
obtained by trading with the Indians, having barely enough of this poor food
to sustain life.  They first settled at The Dalles, and Mr. Wilson was so
nearly starved that he overtaxed his stomach and died the morning following
his arrival at that place.  His widow settled on the Tualatin plains near
Hillsboro, Washington County, and some time afterward married David Hill,
who located in Oregon in 1840.  He took up a donation claim where Hillsboro
now stands, and gave half of the town site.  He died about 1850, and his
widow continued to reside upon the same farm until her death, having
previously espoused a third husband, whose name was Whelock Simmons.

     Mathias Cooley was the recipient of but a meager education, which was
obtained in the district schools.  When he attained the age of fourteen, he
started out to make his own way in the world, working by the month as farm
hand until he reached his majority.  At the age of twenty-two years, he
entered a wagon shop as an apprentice, and completely mastered the double
trade of wagonmaker and carpenter.  Later he went into business for himself
in Wauconda, and it was there that his marriage took place.  Four or five
years later the family removed to Gervais, and about four years afterward
Mr. Cooley purchased the farm which is still his home.  This farm consists
of one hundred and sixty acres of land, and upon it general farming and
stock raising was carried on until Mr. Cooley's retirement.

     December 23, 1868, Mr. Cooley was joined in matrimony with Willimina
Smith, daughter of John W. and Matilda (Elliott) Smith.  Mrs. Cooley was
born in Wayne County, Ohio, crossed the plains with her family in 1854, and
settled in Polk County, Ore.  Nine children were born to this union: namely,
Cornelius J.; M.G.; Mrs. Lillian Uplan, of Portland; Matilda M., of
Portland; Sampson J., of Portland; Bird Bell; Jennie J; Wallace B; and
Willis.  They have a very pleasant and attractive home, which is beautifully
located.  The residence is conveniently build, the out-buildings
substantial, and the surrounding ground well kept. 

     Mr. Cooley is a loyal and earnest Republican and has done a great deal
of active service for his party.  All the members of his family are more or
less musically inclined and the fame of Cooley's orchestra is known
throughout that section.  Mr. Cooley himself was at one time one of the
leading violinists in the far west."


Mary Cooley

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