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Salome Warren-Cooley


Posted By: Dan B. Cooley (email)
Date: 1/5/2010 at 20:14:56

Salome Warren-Cooley

Salome Warren was the wife of Andrew Sutherland Cooley (see separate biography; he was a "founding father" of Clayton County, Iowa) but little is known of her as was common for many frontier women. She was born in Massachusetts and she applied for a Civil War pension in behalf of her son, Peter S. Cooley. There's not much more.

About 1827 she was married to A.S. Cooley in or near Lockport, N.Y. They had one child there, Andrew S. Cooley, Jr., and possibly two "census chldren" (in the 1830 U.S. Census, Michigan Territory).

The family moved to Franklin, Oakland County, Michigan about 1830. Here, two more children were born: Stephen Warren and Thomas W. Again there was a Michigan "census child" but he did not survive to 1850.

They resided in Michigan only six years when, in late 1837, the family of eight left Franklin and moved to a small, northeastern Iowa settlement known as Prairie La Porte ("Door-to-the-Prairie") in soon-to-be Clayton County, then a part of Wisconsin Territory.

The first Cooley child born in Iowa was Noah (b. Sep 1838). He was followed by: Emily, 1840; Lewis, 1842; Peter, 1843 (wounded in the Civil War); Hersey, 1845; Robert, 1847 (my great grandfather); Clara, 1848; and Ella, 1850; and Isabel 1851.

While there is no known diary or other written material, we can infer a great deal about Salome's life in mid-19th century in Iowa by examining extant reminiscences of Clayton County women in similar locations and times. The book "Garnavillo: Gem of the Prairie" which contains diaries and journals from early Clayton County residents, was immensely valuable in fleshing out the lives of county women.

Following are excerpts from some of the reminiscences of women who lived on farms near Garnavillo in the 1830s to 1850s, giving an idea of what life was like for a frontier woman as Salome Warren-Cooley.

Women and the Trek West

The men of pioneer families often viewed the journey to the largely unknown and uncharted area west of the Mississippi as an adventure and settling in an undeveloped but fertile prairie as an exciting challenge. However, for the wives, the prospect of maintaining a house and family in a completely new and possibly hostile land was often met with great trepidation.

Following is from a letter by Hannah Larrabee Williams, describing her arrival in Garnavillo Twp in May of 1849.[1] She and husband Elias Williams had made the trek across upper Illinois in considerably less time (only 4 days) than first settler in the present-day Garnavillo, Dr. Frederick Andros, who had trveled a similar route back in 1833.[2] They, unlike Andros, had traveled on actual roads, occasionally encountering villages like Rockford and Freeport, where they were comfortably accommodated overnight. This was 12 years after the Andrew S. Cooley family arrived in High Prairie.

"On Thursday afternoon 24th [of May 1849] we reached the flourishing village of Garnavillo...a short distance more brings us to our own domicile, and pray be prepared, though I was not quite, to find it in every respect a genuine log cabin."

However, a promised, additional living space by Elias' brother William had not been completed.

"Elias looked completely downcast for a moment as William had not been able, in consequence of difficulty in getting lumber, to complete the addition he had raised, I did not indeed know what Mary [William's wife] would do with us but I would not for the world have showed other than a cheerful face on Elias' account, he looked for a time so completely disappointed."

Another letter finds Hannah and Elias sharing the existing log cabin with William and his wife Mary.

"Difficulties can be overcome, however, if people possess a disposition and so in this case, we really found ourselves comfortable in spite of our limited space. The cabin has now one room, a bed, which Mary and I at present occupy, a stove, a table, a cupboard, half a dozen chairs, water pail and chip basket, better than all, is half of one side the room with closely strewed book shelves - a chamber [loft] in which I can just stand up, any quantity of chests and boxes and three beds spread on the floor, reached by mounting a ladder - a cellar which does not require the ladder as one can jump into it, haven't tried it as yet. But we must make the best of our large story now as William and Mary expect to leave for their own cabin this week; we shall then have more room."

In a subsequent letter Hannah dreams of improvements starting with "a framed addition of one good-size is added joining on the porch opening on it and forward of the cabin, we intend adding another back on the other side, boarding up the front of the porch and converting it into an entry, more room we shall have when we need it and these will answer for ells [ell - an extension or wing of a building, usu. at right angles to the main structure], or out building, should we ever build."

Neighbors are friendly and many call on Hannah during the first few days. One neighbor has an infant as indeed all the women in the vicinity have or expect. But things were definitely different from their home back east:

"[We] did not go to church Sunday as the weather was unpleasant and a Dutchman [German] officiated in place of [Reverend James] Hill [who will be] absent again next Sabbath - not as much attention is paid to the day as in New England."

A Housewife's Work Never Ends

Here is a quote from the "Reminiscences of Amelia Murdock Wing",[3] daughter of Judge Samuel Murdock, an early settler in High Prairie and, later, a mover and shaker in Clayton County:

"There was plenty of work [for my mother, Louise Patch Murdock]--the making of butter, cheese, soft soap, candles, maple sugar, and the canning of fruit...One of the domestic jobs that pleased us children was mother's candle making. Sometimes in an emergency, when she ran out of candles, she would use some moulds which made just six at a time; but once a year she made a large supply. She filled the wash boiler with tallow; then she put wicks over some little round sticks and dipped them in the hot tallow and hung them in a row above the boiler. By the time the last stick was hung up, the first sticks were cool enough to dip again. Thus the work proceeded until the candles were of the right size...

"Making of soft soap was another process we enjoyed. Into an immense iron kettle, which was kept in the backyard, mother put lye, made from ashes, and to this she added waste grease which had been carefully saved for the purpose. This concoction was boiled over a fire in the yard. The soap was put away in kegs.

"Cellars, in those days, were storehouses in themselves. A barrel of kraut was made in the fall; chunks of pork were salted down; fruit was canned and kept in long, heavy, wooden boxes; many kinds of vegetables could be kept there throughout the winter (canning of vegetables had not yet begun); apples were stored away. The apples that looked perfect we would wrap in newspaper and pack away. Cared for thus, they would last into July without decaying.

"There was a long table [in the cellar] for use in handling the milk and butter and a wooden dash-churn stood beside it. We children used to like to help make the butter and then enjoy the fresh buttermilk...There was a large cupboard whose tin doors had holes for ventilation and this was where the milk, cream, and butter were kept."

Wash Day

The never-ending task of washing clothes generated this list of "Wash Day Rules", author unknown, spelling retained:

1. Bild a fire in back yeard to heet kettle of rain water
2. Set tubs so smoke won't blow in eyes if wind is pert
3. Shave one hole cake lie soap in bilin water
4. Sort things, make three piles, one pile white, one pile cullord, one pile work britches and rags
5. Stur flour in cold water to smooth, then thin down with bilin water
6. Rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then bile, rub cullord but don't bile, just rench and starch
7. Take white things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then rench, blew and starch
8. Spred tee towels on grass
9. Hang old rags on fence
10. Pore rench water in flower bed
11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water
12. Turn tubs upside down
13. Go put on cleen dress, smooth hair with side combs, brew a cup of tee, set and rest and rock a spel and count your blessings.[4]

Hunting Game and Foraging for Fruit

Another interesting recollection comes from Mrs. Larry Jennings, who spent her childhood in the 1840s in a log cabin near the Turkey River in southeast Clayton County. The woods around their cabin teemed with wild turkeys, upon which the family depended nearly as much as deer meat for food. Turkeys could be bagged nearly year 'round, but late summer and fall were best.

"Then the turkeys would come into the patches of corn around the cabins and could be caught easily...[Father would come in] the cabin door with wild turkeys slung over his shoulder. And baked in a Dutch oven in the open fireplace--the perfect way to cook them--how good they were."

Having fun while serving a practical purpose, Mrs. Jennings with her brothers and sisters hunted for turkey eggs, and in the spring they tapped the maple trees and gathered sap for their mother to boil down for maple syrup or sugar.

"Summer days the berries ripened in the woods--loads of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and gooseberries and [we] gathered them for the table and to dry and put them down in maple sugar in kegs for the cellar.

"In the fall, [we] filled bins with nuts, and climbed trees to pick wild grapes, plums and apples. Sometimes we'd find a 'bee tree' and go racing home to tell father so he could cut down the tree to get the wild honey...By November, there were stores of food in the cellar, and with father's gun to provide game there was food in plenty for the Thanksgiving feast and the long winter ahead."[5]

Work Is Never Done

This was written by a husband, identity unknown: "What Do the Women Do All Winter...Oh their work is never done. They, of course, keep about the same hours as the men. After making the fires and putting the breakfast and pea soup to cook, they take the lantern and go to milk. After breakfast, the washing of the children for school, and the sweeping are done, they sit down to spin, weave, or knit all day. Sometimes the dog may be harnessed to the little sled, and my wife rides over to a neighbor to make an evening call. But, as a rule, the women go out very seldom, excepting to the church."[6]

Growing Old

Again from the "Reminiscences of Amelia Murdock Wing", dictating at age 92 during WWII: "There were reasons for the word "old" seeming applicable in those days. People had teeth pulled and had no artificial ones to replace them and so cheeks sank in and mouths became wrinkled...Then, the older women were expected to dress old and to sit in the chimney corner knitting or making patchwork. Many of them so relegated were no older than a great many women of this day [1940s] who are constantly active, going to bridge parties, indulging in other amusements, or helping at Red Cross Centers."[7]

Census Information

The U.S. Census of 1850, Garnavillo Twp, Clayton County shows an Andrew S. Cooley household of thirteen members: Andrew (ae 46) and Salome (ae 41) and eleven unmarried children.

The U.S. Census of 1860, Garnavillo Twp, Clayton County shows an Andrew S. Cooley household of twelve members: Andrew (ae 56) and Salome (ae 51), seven unmarried children and the William Gladden family of three including Emily C. Cooley.

The U.S. Census of 1870, Garnavillo Twp, Clayton County shows an Andrew S. Cooley household of seven members, Andrew (ae 66), Salome (ae 61), four unmarried children, and Ann Gladden ae 10.

The U.S. Census of 1880, however, finds Andrew (ae 76) and Salome (ae 71) in Mendon Township where they were living in McGregor close to several of their children.

Then in 1885 according to a State of Iowa census taken that year, Andrew (ae 81) and Salome (ae 76) are back in Garnavillo Township living in the household of their son-in-law, Fred Cook whose wife was their 14th child, daughter Clara

Salome died in 1895 (ae 86), five years after her husband Andrew. They are buried along with a son and grandson in the same plot in Garnavillo's Old Cemetery in the block west of St. Paul's Lutheran Church (known earlier as The German Lutheran Church). A description of the gravestones follows with the reference point at the NE corner of the cemetery where South Rutland St. intersects with West Niagara St:

* Father/ A.S. Cooley/1804-1890; Granite marker 30' from N, 55' 6" from E

* Mother/Salome Cooley/1809-1895; Granite marker 34' 4" from N, 55' 6" from E[8]

1 Roggman, Arnold D. and Laverne E., Garnavillo Iowa: Gem of the
Prairie, History 10.000 B.C. to 1876 A.D., 1988, Sutherland Printing
Co, Inc, Montezuma IA 50171; pp275-277
2 Frederick Andros M.D. Autobiography and Reminiscences, typed copy at
the Minnesota Historical Society
3 Roggman, Arnold D. and Laverne E., Garnavillo Iowa: Gem of the
Prairie, History 10.000 B.C. to 1876 A.D., 1988, Sutherland Printing
Co, Inc, Montezuma IA 50171; pp423-24, original document in Iowa
Historical Library, Historical Building, Des Moines IA
4 Ibid p524
5 Ibid p480
6 Ibid p521
7 Ibid p421
8 Ibid p122 A survey of Old Cemetery was made in 1974 by Mr. & Mrs. A.D. Roggman. As published, the survey has an interesting title: "Old Cemetery; Established in 1844; A Graveyard of Young People." Statistics of the cemetery bear this out: Out of 312 burials, 117 were aged 0-10 (37.5%) and all those under 30 years of age, 162 (52%).

~Biography was compiled by Dan B. Cooley


Clayton Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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