Sunday, January 28, 2018


A transcript of the Honorable James Cooley's Daily Record for 1850 until his death on September 20, 1851 was recently discovered in the Granville Library Historical Room. The transcript was typed by Avola Hiers around 100 years after James Cooley wrote the original entries. Avola was the wife of Ralph Hiers, the 2nd great grandchild of James Cooley. The transcript is now online thanks to a joint effort of the Granville Library's Historical Room and NCCHP.

This is a significant historical document recording life in Granville in the 1850's. Because James Cooley was a local attorney and state legislator he was closely involved with the lives (and deaths) of many Granville families. Those who have read the journal say they felt like they had been taken back in time.

Although most days reflected normal business and farming life, the journal has it's moments of drama, tragedy and humor. James remarks sadly on the death of an infant in one family, the child being "a fine, fat boy." In another instance a woman showed up at James' office expecting to be given her inheritance and upon being told she would need to wait for the estate to be settled she attacked him, screaming and pulling his hair and ears until he finally had to pay her $2 just to go away. He was later advised by her family that she was "given to fitts." On another day he paid off a debt to a local widow, saying he was "glad to be out of her clutches." Then there was the relative of his wife who committed suicide, "a miserable and intemperate man." Not to mention the court case involving "bastardy" (look that one up) which determined, as Maury Povitch might say, "You ARE the father!" All in all, not much has changed in this world!

James Cooley was 72 when he died and although he had an active law practice he was also a hard working farmer and good citizen who was generous with his time and labor. Right up to his death he was helping neighbors trim their apple trees and painting fences around the North Burying Ground.

He was also the father of James Parsons "J.P." Cooley, who with Silas Noble would found Noble & Cooley in 1854. Present-day NCCHP officers Matt Jones, Liz Smith and Jay Jones are the 3rd great grandchildren of James P. Cooley.

To view the typewritten transcript CLICK HERE.

To view the original handwritten document CLICK HERE.

Hope everyone is planning on attending the 10th Annual Ice Harvest on February 3rd!

Saturday, January 6, 2018


On February 3, 2018 the Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation (NCCHP) will re-create a small scale ice cutting on the pond at 42 Water Street, off of Route 189, in Granville, Massachusetts. The event is being co-sponsored by the Suffield Historical Society, the Suffield Land Conservancy and the Granville Cultural Council. It's been a c-o-l-d winter so far and if the trend continues ice conditions should be excellent.

Dennis Picard, former director of Storrowtown Village Museum, will organize the harvest. Picard owns a complete collection of antique ice cutting tools. During his presentation he demonstrates the finer points of ice cut­ting and explains how to use the specialized tools. Visitors will also have an opportunity to join Mr. Picard on the ice to use an ice-saw or pike pole and learn first-hand about a harvest that provided an extra cash crop for local farmers.

The program will run between 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM. Visitors may participate anytime between those hours. A video on ice harvesting in New England will also be shown continuously in the NCCHP Museum. The museum will be open for tours that focus on the skills and art of drum making. We hope to bring people together to rekindle the community spirit of the farm communities and industrial villages that were common in most of New England. The Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation invites everyone with an interest in “living history” to join us at the museum.

Plan on visiting the ice harvesting demonstration on Saturday, February 3rd. There is no charge for the event but donations will be gratefully accepted. For pictures of last years event CLICK HERE.

For last minute information on ice conditions and status of the harvest visit the museum website ( ) or call 413-357-6321 on February 2, 2018.

Additional historical information:

This area of New England has a long history of ice harvesting and produced a great deal of natural ice during the early 20th Century. Commercial ice harvesting in Southwick and Suffield began right after the Civil War ended. Prior to that time the Hudson River was the major source of ice. For several years the polluted Hudson produced poor harvests and the ice companies looked around for a new source. The Congamond Lakes, favored with good rail transportation on the nearby New Haven-Northampton railroad line, offered a unique business opportunity. The spring-fed Congamond Lakes produced a pure, high quality ice that found a ready market. It wasn't long before the ice harvesters were cutting big blocks and loading them into boxcars for shipment to New York. The Congamond operation became the largest ice harvesting operation in New England from 1900 to 1925.

In addition to the large commercial ice operations, many local farmers harvested ice from their ponds for personal use or as a source of extra income.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Deacon Allyn's Last Ride- January 4, 1860

Today we travel back 158 years to look in on James P. Cooley, co-founder of Noble & Cooley, as he recounts the day's events in his Journal. Typical daily entries make note of the weather, crops, Granville social events, and life as a local farmer/entrepreneur. But a quick glance out the window of his home on Maple Street (now Main Road) turned the day into anything but ordinary (transcript provided below the original image):

"Wednesday, January 4, 1860. 16 above zero... Snows some. About 3 PM Deac. Allen [Allyn] of Montgomery stopt at Rev. Mr. Mills a few moments and started for W. Granville. When he passed our house his head was leaned back over the sleigh. Horse was trotting along. The horse was stopt near the school house, the man taken out. Did not breath but once, was carried to Treats at 7 AM in morning."

"Thursday, January 5, 1860...Mr. Allen's [Allyn] corpse carried home today."

"Deacon Allen" referred to in James Cooley's Journal was Deacon David Allyn, Jr. (1791-1860) of Montgomery, Massachusetts. Married in 1813, he was a farmer and the head of a large family. Deacon Allyn owned over 200 acres of land and left an estate valued at nearly $4000 which was a goodly sum in 1860.

Deacon David Allyn, Jr.
(Photo from
The good deacon's father, David Allyn, Sr. (1759-1841) was a Sargent during the Revolutionary War, first serving as a Minuteman immediately after Lexington and Concord. His militia marched from Colchester, CT. in April 1775 to join in the Siege of Boston which eventually drove out the British forces. Allyn enlisted in the Continental Army when Washington arrived in Boston from Philadelphia with the news of the formation of the Army.

Allyn, Sr. was also serving under the traitor Benedict Arnold when Arnold betrayed his country and joined the British. According to his pension documents Allyn and his fellow soldiers received word from Washington of Arnold's act of treason, countermanding Arnold's battle plan. One can only imagine the shock, dismay and disgust Allyn and his fellow patriots felt at Arnold's despicable act of betrayal.

"History is a big bowl of spaghetti" (having just made that up) with so many stories and histories intertwined, and as if we need proof, consider that at the same time Deacon Allyn's father was marching from Colchester to Boston, Silas Noble (1733-1775, the great-grandfather of Noble & Cooley co-founder Silas Noble, 1824-1888), was also a Minuteman marching to Boston from the Westfield area of Massachusetts. Sadly, Silas Noble died in July, 1775 at the Siege of Boston shortly after Washington's arrival.

James P. Cooley continued writing in his Journals almost daily until his death in 1889. He died in the office at Noble & Cooley with his wife Celia by his side. His business partner and company co-founder Silas Noble died a year earlier in 1888.

As we return to a very cold and snowy January 4, 2018 it is worth reflecting on the expression, "May you live in interesting times," and consider what must have been truly amazing times. It makes a lot of what we consider "interesting" today look pretty tame. But there has been one constant since 1854: the presence of the descendants of James P. Cooley at the helm of Noble & Cooley.