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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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SILAS R. COOLEY, a dealer in leaf tobacco, one of the most esteemed young business men of Northampton, Mass., was born in North Hadley, January 26, 1858, being the descendant of a well-known family of that town.

The paternal grandfather of the subject of this brief sketch was Charles Cooley, who was a lifelong resident of Sunderland, owning and managing a good farm in that part of the town called Plumtrees. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Stowell, was born in Petersham, Worcester County. Their household circle was enlarged by the birth of eleven children — six sons and five daughters — of whom five sons and three daughters grew to adult life, and three are now living, namely: Edwin A., a retired farmer of Galesburg, Ill.; Clarissa C., wife of Benedict B. Williams, of Dexter, Mich.; and George L., who owns and occupies the old homestead at Plumtrees, he having been a soldier in the Civil War, belonging to Company F, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. One daughter, Eliza A., born June 14, 1815, married Cornelius Hilliard, and lived with him more than fifty years, the golden anniversary of their wedding day being celebrated on June 28, 1888. She died in Northfield in 1892.

Simon F. Cooley, son of Charles, was born in Sunderland, Franklin County, October 28, 1817, and died April 12, 1879, in North Hadley. He was one of the prosperous merchants of Western Massachusetts, for eight years carrying on a large grocery trade in Springfield, and from 1852 until 1879 engaged in general merchandising in North Hadley. He was a typical representative of the bright and enterprising self-made men of Massachusetts, he having started in life without cash capital, and by diligent effort, thrift, and good management acquired a competency, leaving an estate valued at twenty-five thousand dollars. He was influential in public life, a Republican in politics, serving as Selectman several terms, and as Postmaster for twenty years. He married Esther E. Rose, who was born in Granville, Hampden County, but was reared in Springfield, where their union was solemnized October 27, 1847. Their three children were: Ella Rose, Addison G., and Silas R. Ella Rose died at the tender age of two and one-half years; and Addison G. died May 23, 1862, in North Hadley, aged eight years.

Silas R. Cooley received excellent educational advantages in the days of his youth, attending Hopkins Academy two years, afterward pursuing his studies a year at the New Salem Academy, going from there to the Agricultural College at Amherst, which, however, he was obliged to leave after a year of diligent study on account of trouble with his eyes. He was then engaged for a year as a clerk in his father’s store, being subsequently employed for a similar period in the locomotive works at Providence, R.I. In 1881, having then concluded the settlement of his father’s estate, Mr. Cooley moved to Northampton, bought his present property, consisting of one acre of land, at 36 High Street, where, besides his modest but pleasant residence, he has an office and storehouse, and established his present profitable business. He packs and deals in leaf tobacco, having a very extensive trade, and conducting it most successfully.

On October 5, 1881, Mr. Cooley was united in marriage with Sarah L. Wright, a daughter of George L. and Elizabeth A. (Cobb) Wright, her father being a thriving farmer of this town and among its most respected citizens. Both parents are faithful members of the First Congregational Church, of which Mr. Wright has been a Deacon for many years. Mrs. Cooley, after her graduation from the Northampton High School and prior to her marriage, was one of the popular and successful teachers of this city. Three children have come to bless the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cooley, namely: Clara Louise, born June 11, 1883; Arthur Rose, born May 4, 1888; and Alice Wright, born September 2, 1890. Exemplary in all the walks of life, a devoted husband and father, in society courteous and genial, in business upright and honorable, Mr. Cooley is deservedly held in high esteem. Politically, he is an earnest Republican, and has served with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents as Councilman and Alderman.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

View a map of 1901 Hampshire County, Massachusetts here: Hampshire County Massachusetts Map

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