The History of Otsego, NY 
Springfield Biographies

By Holice and Debbie



Among the worthy pioneers of Otsego County was Abner Cooke, grandfather of James H., a native of Dartmouth, Mass., born Oct. 6, 1768. He settled in the northern part of the present town of Springfield in the year 1788. He remained on his original location a few years, and then removed to the farm now owned and occupied by the subject of this sketch. His family consisted of six children, viz., Mrs. Susan Conant, John, Paul, Thomas Abner, Jr., and Daniel. Mr. Cooke was a pioneer inn-keeper, and the first "pettifogger" in Springfield. He was the graduate of no law school, neither had he sat under the tutelage of a Livingston, a Kent or a Walworth; but he was possessed of a quick perception, coupled with sound judgment and indomitable will, which caused him to be south after by the early litigants, and many of the pioneer attorneys who had been trained in the "black-lettered lore" found in Abner Cooke a foeman worthy of their steel. His death occurred on the homestead frm, March 18, 1853.

Abner Cooke, Jr., father of James H., was a prominent and influential citizen. He was elected clerk of the county of Otsego in 1829, which office he held two terms. He subsequently moved to New York and entered upon the practice of law. He afterwards became a resident of Texas, and was chosen chief-justice of that State. He died, leaving the following children, viz.: William N., residing at San Antonio, Texas; Mrs. Catherine Cornelia Pierce, residing in Boston; Commander A. P. Cooke, of the U. S. Navy; James H. and Mrs. Ann Thompson, residing in Springfield. Martha Frances Cooke, a daughter, died at the age of twelve years.

James H. Cooke was born in Springfield in 1841, and is still a resident of the town. He ever manifests an interest in all matters pertaining to the public welfare, and is regarded as one of the enterprising and substantial citizens of the county. He is a communicant of the Episcopal Church, and is senior warden of St. Paulís Church, Springfield.


Isaiah Cook was born in Springfield, Otsego Co., N. Y., June 28, 1839. His father, John Cook, died in 1841, at the age of forty-eight years. His wife died about the year 1823, leaving a family of six children. About two years after his wifeís death, he married Clara Genter, of Springfield. They have had five children, viz., David, Mary Ann, Amanda, Susan, and Isaiah, the youngest, the subject of our sketch. His father died when he was about two years of age. His mother married, when he was about five years of age, Mr. David Stocker. They lived on the farm in Springfield, but about two years after their marriage the children became separated and scattered, seeking labor and homes elsewhere. Isaiah Cook, as young as he was, chose the labor on a farm, and followed this with vigor until he was eighteen years of age. Having a fair education, both his mental and physical strength became more fully developed. About the year 1857, he began his life-work as a carpenter and joiner, which he has followed closely ever since (excepting an interval of two years spent on a farm), and expects to continue in that vocation. On July 4, 1860, he married Lovina Brown, of Albany, N. Y., who is a lady of culture and refinement. They have but on child, John Cook. This family---social, friendly, and kind---are universally esteemed.

Elsewhere in this book will be found an illustration of their home.


The Rathbone family are among the oldest and most prominent in the town of Springfield. The great-grandfather of our subject was the proprietor of a large tract of land, embracing about 1300 acres, which he came in possession of and settled upon about the year 1780. This property descended to his nine children, the subject of our sketch owning a portion of it.

Williams Rathbone, Jr., the father of our subject, was born on the "Rathbone homestead," Feb. 13, 1800. His mother, whose maiden name was Jemima Greene, was a cousin of General Nathaniel Greene, of Revolutionary fame. He lived his entire life on the farm deeded him by his father, obtaining his education in Albany. He took an active part in educational matters, and for many years was superintendent and inspector of schools. He was also prominently identified with the official history of the town; for several years he was supervisor, beside holding other offices of trust. He was a man of great energy and uprightness of character. He was possessed of high social qualities, genial and courteous, and won the esteem of all who came in contact with him. In business, he was highly successful, and acquired a competency.

He was one of the prominent farmers of the county. He did much towards the improvement of the stock of the county. For several tears he was president of the county agricultural society, and was a valuable contributor to The Cultivator, published at Rochester, N. Y., now the Country Gentleman.

He married Miss Mary Chewgo, a native of Montgomery Co., N. Y., where she was born March 19, 1800. She was an amiable and intelligent lady, and possessed in an eminent degree those qualities of head and heart which endeared her to all who knew her. They were blessed with four children,--two girls and two boys,--Jacob C., Levant Williams, Dorlisca, and Augusta L.

Levant Williams Rathbone was born on the old homestead, Dec. 15, 1824. He received an academical education.

When he attained his majority he engaged in farming, which occupation he has since followed, in connection with the milling business established by his father. Fully appreciated by his fellow-townsmen, he has been called to many positions of trust. For fifteen years he was the assessor of the town, superintendent of the poor for three years, and supervisor two terms. Like his father, he has taken a lively interest in educational matters, and has done much in that direction.

Mr. Rathbone was married in 1857 to Miss Levina A. Van Dusen, daughter of William Van Dusen and Elizabeth Ann Hollenbeck. She was born in the town of Egremont, Berkshire Co., Mass., June 17, 1825. When a child her parents removed to Montgomery co., N. Y.; subsequently, however, they removed to the town of Middlefield, Otsego County, where they still reside.

The Rathbone family have filled a very important part in the history of the town of Springfield, and have marked the family name indelibly upon it. The subject of this sketch reflects credit upon his worthy progenitors, and is in every way worthy of the honorable position he holds among his fellow-townsmen.


In every department of life, there are those whose achievements become monuments of the possibilities of man. They are not confined to any profession, but are found in every trade or business, or wherever the genius of success, which measures heroism, is unfettered in life and action. While those sterling virtues, sobriety, perseverance, and energy, will carve success in every enterprise, it is not often that a more successful career is presented than that of Colonel John D. Shaul. He was born in the town of Stark, Herkimer Co., N. Y., Dec. 18, 1814, and is descended from good old Revolutionary stock. His grandfather, John Shaul, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and was captured by the Indians, and kept a prisoner for five years, suffering untold hardships. He made his escape, hotly pursued by the Indians, and reached the nearest fort only an hour to two in advance. His father, Daniel Shaul, served in the war of 1812. When a mere boy, he evinced a decided taste and aptitude for military matters. At the age of eighteen, he was considered a good disciplinarian, and was appointed corporal of a company of militia; from this time he made rapid advancement, and successfully filled every position, with the exception of captain, to that of commanding officer of the regiment.

In 1839 he removed to the town of Springfield, where he has since resided. Here he commenced a successful career of agricultural operations and is regarded as one of the successful enterprising farmers of the county.

In 1850 he was elected colonel of the Thirty-ninth New York State militia, of which he was in command at the breaking out of the rebellion. When the war had actually commenced he used every endeavor to get the consent of the regiment and the permission of the government to take it out as an organization.

On the first of October, 1861, he received an order to place his men in camp at cherry Valley, and commenced recruiting at that place. The order was promptly complied with, and the companies first organized were soon after mustered into the United States service. He closed up his large farming interests at a great pecuniary loss, and directed his attention to the re-organization and recruiting of his regiment. In addition to the large amount of money he was obliged to advance in recruiting, he lent his credits to a large amount to secure the payment of this necessary camp expenses. In January, 1862, the regiment, only some six hundred strong, were ordered to Albany, and shortly after their arrival were consolidated with the Seventy-sixth New York Volunteers, in which Colonel Shaul took the position of lieutenant-colonel. The regiment went out with Green as colonel, and in February, 1862, he was relieved, and colonel Shaul was left in command of the regiment until the last of June of the same year, when he was relived by Colonel William P. Wainwright. During the time that Colonel Shaul was in command of the regimen the had, by an honest administration of military rule, and by his gentlemanly and upright conduct, gained the esteem and good-will of both his officers and men. For about three months he had command of five forts in the defenses of Washington, D. C. In May the regiment was ordered to Fredericksburg, and again divided into detachments for guard duty; and it was while in camp in this place that the colonel was taken sick, and he was ordered to report to Surgeon Clymer at Washington, where he remained some four weeks, when, being desirous of rejoining the regiment, the surgeon, after much objection, consented, and he again took command at Sharpsburg, but, to the great disappointment of himself and friends, he had a relapse, and was sent to the Seminary Hospital at Georgetown.

On the twentieth of November, 1862, he was honorably discharged on account of physical disability. From this sickness, he has never fully recovered, but is able to superintend his large farm of over 400 acres, which is appropriately named the "Soldierís Retreat." We regret that we are unable to give in this article a more extended sketch of the colonelís connection with the Seventy-sixth, but will refer our readers to the history of the regiment elsewhere in this work.

In 1834 he was married to Miss Betsey S. Carroll, daughter of Davis and Phebe Carroll. Mr. Carroll was an officer in the war of 1812, and served with distinction. In 1817 her parents emigrated from the town of Thompson, Windham Co., Conn., where she was born May 22, 1817. She is still in the prime of life, and a worthy helpmeet of her affectionate husband. They have not been blessed with children, but have reared and educated several orphans.

Colonel Shaul is emphatically a self-made man. Beginning life with only his natural resources for his capital, and the limited education afforded by the ordinary district school of a new country, he has worked himself up to a point attained but by few; he has achieved success in every department of life, and stands both an example to young men of the capabilities of character and manhood.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

You are the 2384th Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Siteô Since September 24, 2001.

September 2001

[Index Page][Otsego, NY,  History and Genealogy]