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Cooley, Gilbert 1833 - 1910


Posted By: Joy Moore (email)
Date: 12/22/2019 at 17:02:28

Source: Twice-A-Week Plain Dealer Dec. 20, 1910, FP, C6

Mr. and Mrs. John Livingston returned yesterday from Strawberry Point, Iowa, where she was called by the sudden death of her father, Gilbert Cooley, on Wednesday of last week. The deceased was the postmaster of his town and was stricken with heart failure while at work in the office.

Transcriber’s Note: he is buried in the Strawberry Point Cemetery


Added by S. Ferrall 12/22/2019:

A Life Well Rounded
Died - Wednesday, December 14th, 1910, Gilbert Cooley, aged 76 years, 11 months and 19 days.

On Christmas day, 1833, a baby boy came to bless the home of Elias and Sarah Alden Cooley in the village of Hanover, Chautauqua County, N.Y.

While he was yet a child his parents removed to what is still known as the "Cooley" homestead, 1 1/2 miles east of Forestville in the same county, where his early years of life were spent. When about 14 years of age he attended a private school established and maintained by his father for about two years. This with one term in the district school and one year in the high school, or academy, at Forestville was the sum total of his education. Much of his early life was spent on his father's farm and at work around his father's sawmill; in fact all of his life up to his becoming of age save only a few months trip to the homes of his brothers, then living in Ohio.

When in his 21st year he came west, first stopping for six weeks at the homes of his brothers, then living in Savanna, Ill., then coming directly to Strawberry Point Iowa, which has since been almost continuously his home.

During the first winter, that of 1854-5, he taught school in this place, the schoolhouse at that time being the old log building that until recently has been used as a barn on the property opposite the cemetery. After the close of the school he went to Savanna, Ill., where he worked for a time for his brother, Stoughten Returning to Strawberry Point he entered the employ of W.M. and D.M. Stearns as foreman in their sawmill. The next winter he taught school in what was then known as the Ross district north of tow but now the school located near Sacred Heart church on Cox Creek.

In the spring of 1856 he purchased a team and hauled goods from Dubuque to Strawberry Point making 23 trips in 22 consecutive weeks. His marriage to Miss Martha F. Hammond occurred that summer. The nuptials were celebrated June 14th. Their first venture in housekeeping was in the house of his brother, John; who was then a resident of this place. The site of that domicile is where the present home of B. Hanson now stands just to the north of the railroad tracks.

In the spring of 1857 he purchased a sawmill three and one-half miles southwest and one the site of what has been known in more recent years as "Ward's" and Bogue's" mill. This he operated for something less than two years when he sold that and moved back to Forestville, N.Y. where in compliance with his father's wish he conducted the sawmill on the old homestead for two years.

In October, 1860, he moved to Oshkosh, Wis., where he worked in a sawmill for a time and put in the following winter in the pineries of Wisconsin. The following spring he again returned to Strawberry Point.

At the breaking out of the Civil War, when Lincoln called for 600,000 men, he enlisted on the 11th day of August, 1862, at Elkader and on the 22d of August was mustered into the U.S. services at Dubuque, Iowa, and assigned to Co. "D", 21st Iowa Vol. Inf. as Orderly Sergeant under Capt. Boardman and Col. Merrill.

On Sept. 16, on board the "Henry Clay" the regiment was embarked for St. Louis where he was assigned to Benton Barracks. From there they were sent with the brigade for the Missouri campaign that took in the engagements at Rollo, Houston and Hartsville in turn, and thence to West Plains. From there they went to St. Genevieve where they were embarked on transports for Island No. 10 and Vicksburg. From this time they participated in all the battles of the campaign, Fort Gibson, Black River Bridge and notably in a capture of one of the enemies works, the only break made in the Confederate lines during the entire siege of Vicksburg.

Jan. 1st, 1863, he was promoted to Second Lieutent, the commanding officer making the following note on his papers, "A Good Faithful Energetic Officer." He took part in the second siege of Jackson. While at Vicksburg he was detailed as Brigade Quartermaster and held this command until the arrival at New Orleans where he was relieved at his own request.

Later he was one of the expedition into Texas and Mategorda Island arriving at Esperanza the day after its capture. From there he returned to New Orleans which point he reached Sept. 19, 1864, after passing through [illegible], marches and trying situations. He was in continuous services throughout the war in the states bordering the Mississippi in the South and until his discharge from the service.

He was mustered out at Baton Rouge, La.; July 15th, and honorably discharged at Clinton, Ia., July 28th, 1865, after a service for his country of nearly three years without even a furlough.

On returning to his home in Strawberry Point he engaged in the insurance business. In 186? he was elected County Supervisor to represent Cass township and in 1872 was elected to a like office under the present system of three Supervisors for the entire county, serving all told in such capacity five years.

He was U.S. Census Commissioner for the eastern portion of Clayton County in 1870. He has at various times been named to positions of trust locally, notably Secretary of the District Fair Association for three years, assessor for Strawberry Point for four years, and has been Postmaster of the town (which position he held at the time of his death) for nearly 14 years.

He was a member of Strawberry Point Lodge, A.F. & A.M. for many years and was W.M. for two years; was Commander of Henry Howard Post G.A.R. for six years, and has been its Adjutant for the past 15 years. He served for a number of years as a member of the Board of Education of the city and has always been identified with the progress and upbuilding of his home town and county. Of his integrity no one who knew him ever questioned it and his advise was often sought in the private and public side of others.

His marriage with Miss Martha F. Hammond was celebrated June 14, 1856. Of this union were born eight children, viz: Edwin [G or O] of Chicago, but now in Germany studying the public school conditions of Europe for the benefit of the public schools of Chicago; William P. of Waukon, Ia., locomotive engineer on the C.M. & St. P. Ry; Stoughton and Charles who passed to the Great Beyond in infancy while their father was serving his country in the Civil War; Boardman, of Dubuque, Ia.; Kate C., now Mrs. John Livingston of Cresco, Ia; John A. of Marmarth, No. Dak., locomotive engineer on the C.M. & P.S. Ry; and George [M, W or N], who died in infancy. Mrs. Cooley died in Strawberry Point, Oct. [?23], 1881.

March 1?th, 1884, he was married to Mrs. Amanda D. Sherwood, at Masonville, Iowa. Of this union was born one son, Dick Merrill, now of Chicago.

In the midst of life we are in Death. Sudden transition from labor to reward is hard to hear. Last Wednesday dawned fair. It was an ideal day. Around the Post office things were taking on a new appearance. The work done the Postmaster sat down, as was his daily custom, to read his daily paper. Having finished the reading and placing his paper on the table our departed Brother heard a voice and he was ushered into the presence of his King.

Mr. Cooley's heart has ever been touched with the better things of life. He did not carry his fraternalism to excess, but sought with the necessity of his being to contribute to the relief of poor distressed humanity. He was generous, whole-hearted, loyal. His counsels will be missed in Strawberry Point lodge, A.F. & A.M. The fast thinning ranks of the G.A.R. will miss his energetic loyal soul. The patrons of the Government who have seen his face at the post office for almost 1? years will look in vain for the good natured whole-souled Mr. Cooley.

The Christmas message "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men" found real expression in his life.

The friends and neighbors will miss him. In the home there will be a vacant chair. But what is our loss is his gain. His place cannot be filled. We cannot bring him back, if we would. But we may so order our lives by walking in the light while it is day, by watchfulness and prayer, so that when the Master and Creator of the Universe calls us from the labors of earth to the Eternal refreshments we can go with joy to meet the loved ones gone before.

The wife and his six children living together with a host of friends mourn our Brother's departure.

These lines from the pen of Leigh Hunt seem a very appropriate eulogy of his life [a long poem beginning with the line "Abou Ben Adhem ..." was printed with the obituary, but not transcribed here].

[following the poem, the obit continued]
One day, soon after I came to Strawberry Point to live, I went into the post office and heard these words from the lips now silent, which have made themselves a part of me. I said, "Whose words were those?" Our Brother replied, "They are a part of Tennyson's 'Crossing the Bar.'"
[the poem beginning with the line: "Twilight and evening bell ..." was printed but not transcribed here. Following the poem was the name Will A. Piper, who presumably was the author of the obituary.]

The following tribute from the G.A.R. was read at the service:
The death of Comrade Gilbert Cooley is an irreparable loss to Henry Howard Post - it leaves a vacant chair which no other member is so well qualified to fill - is very fact he was the backbone of our Order.

His military record in the War of the Rebellion is unimpeachable. Since the close of that conflict he was a leader in the perpetuation of the organization of the 21st Iowa Infantry whose annual reunions have always been graced by his smiling face and ready helpfulness. He was, also, the head and front of "Co. D." of the 21st, and to him is due the honor of keeping at Company together for nearly a half century - something very unusual, almost unheard of, in the military service of this or any other country. The annual reunions of the Company were always pleasant occasions enlivened by war songs, war stories, hearty hand shakes and cordial greetings, in which all soldiers, regardless of company or regiment, were invited to participate. In every emergency, public or private, he was always equal to it. As members of the Post, we are anxious and very willing to give our loving service at his last roll-call, well assured that he would have been gladly willing in accord to each of us the same sad duty of comradeship.

By his death the community has lost a worthy, enterprising citizen the Post its most enthusiastic, helpful member, and his family a devoted husband, father, and best friend. Henry Howard Post extends to the bereaved ones its sincerest sympathy, and mourn the poverty of words that it cannot more fittingly voice its grief for the great loss, both they and we have sustained.
J.C. Barnes
A.T. Little
A. Treadwell

At the request of our Mother and other members of the family we wish to express to the many friends our appreciation of their sympathy, aid and respect.
Dick M. Cooley
Boardman Cooley
Wilfred B. Sherwood

~Strawberry Point Mail Press, Thursday, December 22, 1910

Note: A photo of Mr. Cooley was included with the obituary, but reproduced on the microfilm image too dark to make out any of his features.


Clayton Obituaries maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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