William Cooper (judge)

William Cooper (judge)

Judge William Cooper (December 2, 1754 – December 22, 1809) was the founder of Cooperstown, New York and father of writer James Fenimore Cooper, who apparently used his father as the pattern for the "Judge Marmaduke Temple" character in his book "The Pioneers".

William Cooper was born in a log house in Smithfield (now Somerton) just outside Philadelphia, the son of British Quaker parents, James and Hannah (Hibbs) Cooper. He appears to have worked as a wheelwright in and around Byberry. There is no record of his attending school. On December 12, 1774, in Burlington, New Jersey, he was married by civil magistrate to Elizabeth Fenimore, daughter of Richard Fenimore, a Quaker of Rancocas, New Jersey. When Mr. Fenimore asked how his daughter was to be supported at William's young age, William answered that he was poor and "she must shift for herself."

During the early 1780s Cooper became a storekeeper in Burlington, New Jersey, and by the end of the decade he was a successful land speculator and wealthy frontier developer in what is now Otsego County, New York. He founded Cooperstown, at the foot of Otsego Lake, in 1786 and moved his family there in 1790. After 1791, when Otsego County was split off from Montgomery County, Cooper became county judge and later served two terms in Congress, elected as a Federalist to the Fourth Congress (March 4, 1795-March 3, 1797), again elected to the Sixth Congress (March 4, 1799-March 3, 1801).

Cooper family tradition has it that Judge Cooper was killed by a blow to the head sustained during an argument with a political opponent after a public meeting in Albany, New York on December 22, 1809, but it is now believed that he died of natural causes.

Cooper's great-great-grandson was the writer, Paul Fenimore Cooper, whose most notable novel was the children's adventure, '. This judge's interment was located at Christ Episcopal Churchyard"' in Cooperstown where his son was buried many years later.


* [http://www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/preservation/epochs/vol4/pg19.htm#text1 William Cooper, "How Settlements were Promoted" from "A Guide in the Wilderness", 1810]
* [http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/articles/nyhistory/1931nyhistory-cooper.html James Fenimore Cooper (1858-1938, grandson of the author), "William Cooper and Andrew Craig's Purchase of Croghan's Land", 1931]
* [http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/articles/nyhistory/1949nyhistory-butterfield.html Lyman H. Butterfield, "Judge William Cooper (1754-1809): A Sketch of his Character and Accomplishment", October, 1949]
* [http://www.oneonta.edu/external/cooper/articles/nyhistory/1954nyhistory-butterfield.html Lyman H. Butterfield, "Cooper's Inheritance: The Otsego Country and its Founders", October, 1954] .
* [http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/articles/nyhistory/1954nyhistory-ellis.html David M. Ellis, "The Coopers and New York State Landholding Systems", October, 1954]
* [http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/articles/suny/1979suny-pickering.html James H. Pickering, "Cooper's Otsego Heritage: The Sources of The Pioneers", July, 1979]
* [http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/articles/nyhistory/1991nyhistory-taylor.html Alan Taylor, "Who Murdered William Cooper?", July 1991]
* [http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/articles/nyhistory/1994nyhistory-taylor.html Alan Taylor, "Who was Elizabeth Cooper?", Autumn, 1994]
*Alan Taylor, "William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic", New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995
* [http://www.libarts.ucok.edu/history/faculty/roberson/course/1483/suppl/chpIX/William%20Cooper.htm James M. Banner, Jr., "Cooper, William", from "American National Biography", Oxford University Press, Inc., 2000]

External links

* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7255263 Find-A-Grave profile for William Cooper]

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