WILLIAM T. COOLEY
William T. Cooley, one of the well known and highly honored pioneer farmers of Eaton township, and a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church, was born in Anne Arundel county, Maryland, November 1, 1823, being a son of William and Ann Maria (Dove) Cooley, both native of Maryland, where the former died when the subject of this sketch but was but eight years of age. The mother was born in 1803, and died may 31, 1896 in Wood county, Ohio, at the age of ninety-three years, ten months and four days. William Cooley was a farmer, having owned ninety acres of well-improved land, --the homestead on which he died and on which the subject of this review was born. After his death his widow became the wife of Edward Cooley, and in 1834 they sold the farm and removed to Seneca County, Ohio, where they secured fifty acres of wild land, but Edward Cooley died shortly afterward, having reclaimed but a small portion of his farm. Of the first marriage five children were born: John died in Ohio, at the age of twenty years; Benjamin, who married Jane Alspaugh, located in Eaton Township, Eaton County, Michigan, in 1851, and was here engaged in farming until his death; Mary Ann, first married Hiram Silverwood and after his death became the wife of Samuel Keyes, her death occurring in Wood County, Ohio; James E., who served three years as a member of a Michigan regiment in the civil war, located in Ionia County after its close and there passed the remainder of his life engaged in agricultural pursuits, the maiden name of his wife having been Elizabeth Shock. Several children were born of the second marriage, but only two attained maturity, ---Thomas, who is a farmer of Ionia County, and Samuel, who was killed by a falling tree, in Ohio. William T. Cooley was afforded the advantages of the pioneer schools, but his broader education has been gained through his person application in later years and through the lessons acquired in the school of practical experience. He left home at the age of twenty years after which he was variously employed in Ohio until 1851, his mother having in the meanwhile contracted a third marriage, becoming the wife of Henry Nisley. In the year mentioned Mr. Cooley came to Eaton County and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of wild land, in Eaton Township, no roads having been opened to make the tract accessible and the nearest neighbor being one and one-quarter miles distant. He built a log house on his land and took up his residence in the same November 3, 1851. He later sold half of the land, for the purpose of securing a neighbor, and still later purchased an adjoining tract of forty-five acres, having reclaimed the greater portion to cultivation and having developed one of the excellent farms of this part of the county. He has erected good buildings, including a commodious brick house, and his indefatigable efforts have brought to him definite prosperity since the time when he located in the forest wilds. He has done his part in the upbuilding and development of the county, materially and socially, and is one of the highly esteemed pioneers of his township. He is a Democrat in politics, and both he and his wife are zealous members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, with which he has been identified for forty years, having held various offices in the same and being a local preacher of the church. He was formerly affiliated with the Grange and the Patrons of Industry. He served two terms as justice of the peace of Eaton Township. October 8, 1846, Mr. Cooley was united in marriage to Miss Katherine Nisley, who was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, June 27, 1826, and who died in Eaton Township, January 18, 1891. Her parents, Henry and Annie (Geiger) Nisley, passed their entire lives in Ohio, her father having been a farmer by vocation. Mr. and Mrs. Cooley became the parents of eight children: Martha, who was born August 21, 1847, and who died, in Eaton County, about thirty years ago, married John Hurd and is survived by one son, Joseph C.; George W., who is a farmer of Eaton Township, married Miss Clara Hastings, and they have two children, Oca and Jennie; Maria Jane is the wife of William H. Prescott of Benton Harbor, Michigan, and of their five children only three are living, Leona, Jennie and Della; Sarah E. is the wife of George Spotts, Brookfield township, and they have three children, Floyd, Roy and Jennie; William, who is a farmer of Eaton township, married Miss Effie Murray, and they have two children, Mabel and Bernice, deceased; Ada is the wife of Ezra D. Spotts, of Brookfield township, and they have one child, Ray; Mercy E., who is the wife of Henry Moyer, of Charlotte, was first married to Isaac Snow, who is survived by one daughter, Lena, and after his death she became the wife of Josiah Wickard, who left no children, while no children have been born of the present marriage; Zora Dell is the wife of L. D. Dickinson, of Eaton township. In 1894 Mr. Cooley married Ella Humphrey, of this county. She is a daughter of Ira and Amariah (Leech) Humphrey, who were numbered among the early settlers of Jackson County, whither they removed from the state of New York, where the former was born February 2, 1820, and the latter August 18, 1825. Both passed the closing years of their lives in Eaton County, where the father died January 12, 1899, and the mother February 26, 1902. They located in Eaton County nearly forty years ago.