In 1910, William and Anna Cooley, my great-grandparents, purchased a farm on the Ridge Road in Randolph Center. The Cooley Farm remained in the family until the 1960s, when it was sold to another farmer. It produced not only milk and maple syrup but also scientists, mathematicians, lawyers, teachers, and writers. It produced carpenters and builders; gardeners and homemakers; musicians and painters. It produced lovers of horses, dogs, and children. It even produced a few farmers. Like so many small farms of that era, it holds an almost mythic place in our family history. Central to its success were my grandparents, Harry Hale Cooley (the eldest of William and Anna's five boys), and Gertrude (Small) Cooley, who raised five children there. Harry wrote extensively about farming and Vermont history, and Gertrude took many photographs of life on the farm during the years of the Great Depression. The photo above shows the family in the mid-1920s. In the center are my great-grandparents, Anna and Will. That's my mother, Idora, standing next to Anna.
This week, I began the painstaking process of organizing the vast amount of memorabilia of which I am the family custodian. Not easy under the best of circumstances, and less so when you're stuck in France in the middle of pandemic and the boxes and drawers of precious stuff are in a house in Vermont. My brother John will help me retrieve and scan photos and documents, and together we will do our best to share it with family members and anyone else who is interested.
Besides this blog, I will make use of a dedicated website (in development, but only barely), a Facebook page, and an Instagram page. The Facebook page is called The Cooley Farm.
A related task is to publish, or republish, several books written by family members, starting with my grandfather and including my mother and two of her siblings, all of whom recorded their memories of Vermont farm life in the early twentieth century. A lot of it must be transcribed by hand. My hands have been quite busy lately—sewing, mostly, because I haven't felt like sitting at a computer with my back to the world. But I elected myself the keeper of this family trust, and so . . . here we go.
Photo: The Cooley clan, mid 1920s. From left: Sumner (kneeling with niece Ruth), Gertrude, Harry, Kate (Sumner's wife), Idora, Emerson, Anna, Will, and three unidentified people who may be Oscar, Lydia, and one of their children.