William Cooper (1754-1809)

Judge, U.S. Congressman from New York & the Founder of Cooperstown, N.Y.

Associated Houses

Otsego Hall


He was born into a Quaker family at Somerton, Pennsylvania, and having received no formal education worked as a wheelwright at Byberry. By the time of his marriage in 1774 to Elizabeth Fenimore he was living at Burlington, New Jersey, where he opened a store. Becoming a successful merchant, he invested his profits into land and in 1786 bought 67,000-acres in central New York that came to constitute Otsego County. That same year, he founded Cooperstown where he brought his family to live in 1790, having completed the manor house that would become Otsego Hall after it was remodelled by his famous son, the author, James Fenimore Cooper. In 1791, he was appointed Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Otsego County and served two terms in the U.S. Congress (1795-1801) as a Federalist from New York's 10 District. He and his wife were the parents of 12-children, of whom only seven survived infancy (listed above). 
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 03/01/2019 and last updated on 20/12/2023.