#6 – 2nd Daughter, Susie Dunbar

The second daughter and fifth child of Lewis and Polly Powers Dunbar was Susannah, born Jan 24th 1830 in Ross County, Ohio. She was called Susie and was a tiny child when the Dunbar family arrived in MoCo. She married Luther Cooley in Montgomery on Jan 10th, in 1848. Brother William wrote the affidavit okaying her marriage and the very popular, George W. Stafford was the officiating minister.

Luther was also born in Ross County, Ohio 23 March 1824 and his parents, (I believe he was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Allen Cooley) settled near the Dunbars but in Clinton County. Perusing the old “White Church” columns, a Cooley visited a Dunbar, a Bowers visited a Powers, and throw the Cooks, Burckhalters, Rettingers, Mitchells and Petersons in and ya’ about had the whole of the area covered. One friendly, helpful community but the West called this couple and so they ventured forth about 1855. Their first four children were born in Indiana and then #5 in Iowa. Part of her family had already moved to that state and some would never move. The Cooleys had a total of eight children, the youngest a baby when her father passed away. I’d so love to know what happened to Luther Cooley, an accident, a disease (he appeared on the Civil War listing, available as a recruit – by the way with others sounding like they could be from our area – Seay; Dye; Stonebraker; Campbell; Irwin; Castor and others – so perhaps he went to the service), but he died at his home (assumedly) in Clarke County, Iowa and is buried there in Grandview Cemetery. Susie was an extremely strong woman, barely 30 years old and left with eight children, the oldest perhaps 15.

Her brother, William already in Iowa was appointed Luther Cooley’s administrator. Luther evidently wasn’t prepared to go as he died intestate, without having a will or anything prepared. No doubt he would have made sure she was as well taken care of as possible. She raised the offspring alone for five years then married a second time, to William Decker in 1868 who was much younger than she. He, too was born in Ohio and he had a large farm in Clarke, Iowa. They became parents of two daughters, Viola and Frances, making six daughters and four sons for Susan Dunbar Cooley Decker.

Her oldest, Albert R. Cooley, was born right here in Sugar Creek Township 16 Jan 1847 (9) and passed away in Rosebud County, Montana, the father of Lillie Undine (who died young); William Luther; Samuel E; Charles L; Lora; Albert Marvin and Cora. While in Iowa, he owned a dry goods store but later he became quite an impressive stock dealer.

Second child was Catherine Elsie Cooley 10 May 1850 (died 13 Dec 1928 Osceola, Clarke County, Iowa buried Maple Hill in Osceola with many of her close relatives). She married 1869 to William Coon. As far as I know there was only one child Minnie Alice who died at age six.

Simon, born April 19, 1852 MoCo died in Rice County, Kansas 7 June 1937 at age 85. He is buried in Plymouth, Lyon County, Kansas. He lost his first wife when she was 22 and don’t believe any children, but he and 2nd wife, Minnie Walker parented Luther, Frank Walker, John C, Lettie, Ray Gilbert, Loren W. Simon proved-up a homestead of 40 acres near Osceola registered at Des Moines April 28, 1903.

Calvin Cooley was a large farmer and cattle shipper and died at age 72 years, 2 months 28 days (born in Indiana 14 June 1854) of a cerebral hemorrhage. This was a common killer in the Dunbar-Cooley families, sadly. He was father of two sons June Calvin Cooley (born June 19, 1900 in Osceola and died there 1 March 1963) who married Ada McQuern and fathered Robert and Betty. Calvin’s other son was

Jesse (1877-1918) who died from the Spanish flu and the boys had one sister, Della Mae who married George Touet and lived to be 88.

Little Isaac Newton Cooley was born 15 Sept 1856 in Doyle Township, Clarke County, Iowa and only lived a few months (buried Sanders Cemetery) passing 22 Feb 1857.

Mary Katherine Cooley was born the very last day of 1857 and died 8 March 1923 (both Clarke Iowa) having died of an inoperable bladder cancer. She married Ashford Rollins Coon and they were parents of four sons and three daughters (George; William; Martin Luther; Albert J; Elizabeth Alice, Susie and Bessie Frances).

Oddly, Eliza Jane Cooley born 14 May 1860 also died of cancer (27 Aug 1923) of the stomach and liver. She married Samuel M. Thurlow and they had several children: Theodore, Lula, John A, Delbert, Eddie Clarence, Olive Florence, and Susie (who lived to be 99). Most of these children had several children as well, many buried right there in Clarke and surrounding counties.

Then there’s little Rachel Elizabeth such a babe when her father passed away. So sad they never knew each other. She’s my favorite of all of Susannah’s children. At age 18, she married Cephas Jasper Dutton and this fellow was one interesting guy. At age 59, (born 16 August 1858) he joined the service Co G 2nd Infantry to fight in World War I. He was a wagoner, enlisting on 21 May 1917 and discharged the next year 30 December. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, at age 96 (30 Dec 1954). He has a military stone. Jasper and Rachel were parents of twins, Susan Mae and Hester M (both buried Fairview Cemetery) and four sons: Charles Oscar, Joseph Luther, Lawrence Rudy “Jake” and Simon Cooley (FindAGrave) who was also in WWI but in the Navy.

Close but maybe not a perfect counting but I think Susannah had 37 Cooley grands. Now, we come to the two Decker girls. Emma Frances was born 27 April 1866 and died at age 71 in Sheridan County, Wyoming. She married Samuel Sheeley and was the mother of at least two children (William and Glenn). Her sister Viola Mae was born 9 oct 1869 and passed 22 Feb 1946 (both in Osceola, Iowa). She married (1890) Robert Mitchell Banker. Thought it’d be neat if he was also a banker, but alas a farmer instead. They had no children but raised one of his nieces and a nephew.

Thus, there were only two Decker grands, tallying 39 grandchildren for our awesome Susie Dunbar Cooley Decker second daughter of Lewis and Mary “Polly” Powers Dunbar. She is buried in Maple Hill Cemetery, Osceola, Iowa (thanks to FindAGrave for the photo) so, rest in peace, lady !

Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County. You can reach her at