LIFE AND HISTORY OF PHINEAS W. COOK
|Section 1 Brief history of Phineas ancestry||
My desires are to know my own life and I therefore attempt to pen down such incidents as shall come to my recollection for when I think of the inexperenced rising generation and the acts and the joys and the sorrows of human life I feel stimulated for the good of my posterity that they may learn by these things which I have passed through perhaps to be able to increase in knowlage and wisdom, and profit by the admonitions which I shall give in the course of my history.
My object is to lay befoue my children such things as shall do them good, and shall endeavor to impart as much good instruction as I can.
I was born the 28th day of August in the year 1819 in the town of Goshen Litchfield County state of Conneticut the good old spot on which my eyes first beheld the light of the sun and where I spent the days of my childhood was situated on a beautiful plain sloaping to the west a distance of about 1/4 of a mile to a swamp of timber and south nearly on a level from 1/4 to 1/2 a mile tapering and sloaping gradualy to the south for nearly one mile until it lost itself in the midst of hills and ravines, on the East the land gently rises a distance of about 80 to 100 rods to the summit thence desending sudenly to a swift running stream where many a day of pleasure has been spent in angling for trout and cuting the long and slender sprouts which had grown the year before and rubing the bark and making whistles which (in time of spring when the leaves ware just verging from the bud)would seem to make all nature rejoise to echo the sound,
Also many a long night I have passed in company with my father and brothers bobing for eels which run in the still places in the night but in the day time they lie still in the mud. this maner in which this was done I shall say more about hereafter.
To the north of the place a little distance is a small stream which drains the spring from the east under the hill which is generly dry in summer, on the north bank of which stood the venerable mansion of my grandfather to the north of this joining the house was an apple orchard in the street stood 3 or four large English Cherry trees which bore excelent fruitt the cher-ries grow in clusters of from 3 to 7 in a cluster they grow about 5/8 of an inch in diameter the stems about 1 inch in length at the head of this little stream which I speak of grew an immence quantity of sweet flag under which the soil is composed of blue clay, (this little stream ran across the north end of the big meadow and emptied into another just in the edge of the swamp which headed about 1/2 a mile north and ran south nearly 1 mile and emptied into the swift runing stream east of the hill), directly north of this on the dry ground stood the old barn and cow house directly west of the house in which I was born between it and the swamp first came the long meadow on the oposite side of the road in which stood the barn and 2 cow houses on the south in this form this meadow was about 20 or 30 rods wide and about 130 rods long. Producing a most exceleant quality of grass and a great deal of it princeply herds grass and red clover, the north end of the meadow was wet and the grass was wide blade or cut grass such as generly grows on such ground, directly west of the meadow was the maple trees or sugar works a most delightful place in summer. It consisted of from 250 to 300 trees mostly tall and strait and some very large they ware so near together that they formed almost one intire shade with no small shrubery to annoy those who wished to pass through, this cluster of trees was about 10 to 15 rods wide and about 100 rods long all Rock or hard maple this was a good place it was not ownly pleasant in summer but it afforded all the sugar the family kneeded and also molasses which was made after the buds began to swell for leaves directly west of this just in its edge and a little south of west from the house and barn was a large ovel topt rock about 12 rods in circumferance and this may be a mark by which the place may be found for it will not decay a number of cracks are in this rock which my mothers father used to tell me ware made when Jesus was crucified this place was situated about 1/2 a mile south of the town line joining Cornwall and about the same distance west to Warren.
The house where grandfather lived was the birth place of my father. Grandfathers name was Daniel Cook auu grandmothers name was Elizabeth Porter, him I never saw but I just remember of seeing grandmother it was when I was very small. Grandfather died when he was 49 years old it is little that I know of him and that little I heard father tell, he served all through the revolutionary war with England which broke his constitution and his health was always poor he was in many battles and skirmishes but still he was saved, one or two anecdotes which I heard father tell I will here relate, one night he was sent out in company with one more as a scouting party to see what they could find the night was dark and as they desended a hill a stone wall on both sides of the road a party of about 30 men arose on the oper side of the road over behind the wall, he could see them because they ware higher than he was, and they hailed them saying who comes thare, his answer was friend, frient to who was again interogated friend to the states he replied, surrender—God dam you—replied the at this time known enemy. At this moment he fired his musket at the bigest one and run for the oposite wall the moment he was on the top of it the bullets came like hail stones one went through the top of his hat one through his ear one grazed his side and one went into the heel of his shoe, down the hill they run until they met a party of his own men supposing he had met another enemy he exclaimed I give up I give up, when soon to his joy he found it was his friends he wished to return and persue the enemy but the officer thought it not prudent in the night so they returned to camp meanwhile his hand was covered with blood caused by feeling for a hole in his side which however he was not able to find. In the morning they came again to the spot and found blood on the ground supposing that it was likely he had hit his mark.
At another time when want had driven the company that he was in almost to desperation their horse beef was all gone and no dogs or any kind of meat could be procured, and they had even roasted their shoes and eaten them, at last their Captain told them to go out and take some torys chickens or anything they could find, they knew of a tory near by who had plenty but would sell none, he had a large bull dog that guarded the house so there was no comeing round in the night, at length a plan was hit upon, Grandfather was selected as guard so he went forth near to the house when out came the dog in a great fury he saw that he must defend himself so he drew his musket and shot the dog which brought the old tory to the door in a great rage wanting to know what he nad shot for, he said he had shot his dog for every time he was on duty he was in danger of being torn to pieces, and after detaining the old man for some time in the cold he lift for camp and found the boys had got some honey which they had taken from the old torys beehouse while he was scolding about the dog. the next morning the old man came to camp in persuit, the captain told him he did not think his boys had it but sais he we will search so round the camp they went the old man peeking and looking very closely till he came to the mess where it was hid in a chest, the captain opened the chest sudenly puting his hand into a small cask and taking it sudenly out again covered with honey slaming down the lid and takeing his handkerchief from his pocket and wipeing it off saying, boys what in thunder do you keep soap here for, says Grandfather, we have to keep it there or the souldiers will steal it from us, one of the mess had his tongue swolen so that his mouth was wide open caused by the sting of a bee, the old tory wondered at this and asked what ailed that man the captain told him he had the tooth ache this passed off first rate and the old man went away. In this manner they had to live, sometimes almost star-veing and watching tories (which were ten times more traible than the English) and sometimes liveing on horse beef which was their best living until General LaFayette came from France after which they fared well, In the course of these hardships the companies where he was all mutenered twice, which was all hands arose saying home, boys home, no bread no meat no rum, but all returned after geting something to eat, just before Lafayette came they was almost starved and he had news from home that they had some pork, he asked the captain to let him go home and get some, he told him he could not spare him, but he resolved to go so that night he started and was gone 8 or 10 days and come back with a back load of pork, he was then taken for deserting and court-martialed and found guilty he was asked if he had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon him, he said he had suffered enough to die a thousand deaths but he had tuft it through and if they wished to kill him for what he had done they*might try it, but he should fight his way through and make his escape or loose his life, so they consulted sometime upon the matter finely he was liberated and he went and divided his pork all round and they had a good feast.
He was about 16
years old when he enlisted in the army he served his country faithfuly for 7
years or to the end of the war,
Amasa was suddenly killed and it swalowed up nearly both of their farms to
pay debts and cost, father had writs of attachment before he was buried.
Just about this time mothers father came and wanted to live with father
through his old age and gave in his property which amounted to about 1700
dollars which saved fathers farm with the exception of one debt of 900
dollars for which it was mortgaged which debt was not paid until the year
1836 when they sold out and father emigrated to Michigan.
And also mothers father and step mother and two of her children which made
12 in family, Daniel, was next Eliza, Darius Burgess, Mary Ann, Phineas
Wolcott, and Harriet Elisabeth, all of us home in the same house I shall now
state what I know about Mothers father and mother. His name was Jonathan
Churchil his place was in Litchfield South farms Society, mothers mothers
name was Burgess her christened name I do not remember she died when mother
was an iniant. I ownly know what little shes told me. Mother had two sisters
one was the wife of Uncle Amasa she had one sone his name was Amasa Philip,
her name was Polly I believe she did not live long after this, this is all I
can tell about her, the other sisters name was Lucy she was older than
mother but whether she was older than Polly I dont know She was never
married she used to work in the paper mill at a place called West and she
was dark complexion being marked caused by her mothers being frightened by
an Indian who lay in wait for her as she went to milk, when she saw him he
had his tomahawk raised in his hand ready to throw at her. she screamed and
run for the house which was not far which she reached before he could
overtake her mother told me that Aunt Lucy had the exact image of the Indian
on her side tomahawk and all Just as she first saw him the rest of her body
was vary white except her face and neck which was quite dark she was a good
woman I have seen her a great many times she always labored hard for a
liveing. she had 4 or 500 dollars on interest which she got at work by the
week. I expect she is yet liveing Mother had 2 brothers Josiah and Leeman
they moved off to the west into York state