Byberry Cottage

River Street, Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York

Built in 1855, for the two unmarried daughters (Susan and Charlotte) of the celebrated author of The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851). Susan was an accomplished writer in her own right and the sisters returned here after having lived in Switzerland for many years. Byberry was built using materials salvaged from the ruins of their childhood home, Otsego Hall, which had burned down in 1853. All the bricks as well as the heavy oak doors, two bookshelves from the library, and the balusters from the stairway were all retrofitted into the 'new' house...

This house is best associated with...

Susan Augusta Fenimore Cooper

Susan Augusta Fenimore Cooper, Authoress, of Cooperstown, N.Y.


Charlotte Fenimore Cooper

(Anne) Charlotte Fenimore Cooper, of Cooperstown, died unmarried


Maria (Cooper) Cooper

Mrs Maria Frances Fenimore (Cooper) Cooper


Caroline (Cooper) Phinney

Mrs Caroline Martha (Cooper) Phinney


The sisters originally named their home, "Riverside Cottage" and the two ladies became affectionately known as the "Cottage Coopers". They were later joined by their widowed sisters, firstly Mrs Cooper, then Mrs Phinney. The large wooden extension - which transformed it into a sizeable home - was added in the 1920s after the death of the sisters' unmarried niece, Susan Augusta Cooper (1851-1915), the last of their family to live here.

Many of the houses on River Street seem to have been haunted and Byberry is no exception with many, "uncanny things seen and heard" here over the years. But, perhaps the most striking occurrence took place in 1894: Susan's ghost - complete in her ghostly wheelchair - was said to have taken itself out of the cottage and rattled across the street to the church where the whole town witnessed her going down the aisle in the middle of the Good Friday Service and then straight through the altar before vanishing altogether! Susan may no longer be here, but the house is: last sold un-renovated in 2008 for $900,000. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 28/08/2019 and last updated on 30/10/2020.
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress; Susan Fennimore Cooper (2016) by Rosaly Torna Kurth; Things That Go Bump Night in the Night (1983) by Louis C. Jones


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