|COOLEY L. COMSTOCK, a retired farmer and merchant, residing in the village of Oregon, was born fifteen miles from Erie, in Erie county, Penn., August 16, 1844. His father, William Comstock, was born in Rhode Island, and his grandfather, Aaron Comstock was a native of the same state, moving from there to Otsego, N.Y., and thence to Wisconsin, and spent his last years in Rock county.William Comstock was a natural mechanic, and followed the trade of stonemason and carpenter, in connection with farming, all of his life.
He was married in Otsego county, N.Y, to Miss Fanny Chapin, a native of that county, where she was born, in the town of Butternuts, July 5, 1810. Soon after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Comstock removed to Eire county, Penn., where he resided for a few years, and then, in 1844, emigrated to the territory of Wisconsin. He came by team to Lake Erie, and there took a boat for Milwaukee, landing in the latter city with but $1.50 in his pocket. He came by team from Milwaukee to Dane county, and having a good trade he secured employment and was soon living in comparative comfort.
At that time this section of country was but sparsely settled, and the greater portion of the land belonged to the government domain. Mr. Comstock was a very useful adjunct to the region in which he settled, by reason of his mechanical skill, and a number of his log houses and barns which he erected are still standing as silent mementoes of his handiwork. Game was very plentiful in those days, and the family larder could easily be supplied with meat from the surrounding forests. Mr. Comstock selected forty acres of government land in section 31, in what is now Dunn township, and at once built a log house and commenced to make a farm. He bought a cow and a pair of oxen, and as there were no railroads he was compelled to haul his grain to Milwaukee, and with the oxen this meant a trip of six or seven days, when the weather was good. Wheat sold as low as twenty-five cents a bushel, but Mr. Comstock usually managed to get a load of merchandise, to haul back for Madison parties, Bean & Rogal and thus added to the profits of his trip. As his means accumulated he bought other land, until his farm contained two hundred acres, and at the time of is death, in February 1873, he was one of the well-to-do farmers in that section of the county.
His wife was the daughter of Luke Chapin, who was a native of Connecticiut, but in early life he moved to New York and spent his remaining years there. He served as a soldier in the war of 1812. The maiden name of his wife was Thirza Shaw, and she also died in the town of Butternuts, N.Y. Mr. and Mrs. William Comstock were the parents of four children: Francis C., deceased; Melissa A., now Mrs. Grout of Monroe, Wis.; Cooley L., is the subject of this review, and Edgar W. residing in the village of Oregon. They were all educated in the schools of Dane county.
Cooley L. Comstock, to whom this memoir is especially dedicated, was an infant when he came to Wisconsin with his parents, hence he has no recollection of any other home. He attended the pioneer schools of Dunn township, his father being a warm friend of the common school system and donated the land on which to build a schoolhouse. The son commenced life as a farmer and remained with his father until he reached the age of twenty-five years. He then bought farm in section 32, of Dunn township, where he resided for three years, and then selling it he returned to the old homestead, where he resided until four years ago, and of which property he is still the owner. The farm contains two hundred acres of fine land, well improved.
In 1902 Mr. Comstock removed to the village of Oregon and entered the mercantile business, which he followed for two years, and then retired from active participation in affairs and is living in quiet enjoyment of the fruits of an industrious career. He has recently erected a fine dwelling house in the village of Oregon, where it is hoped that many years of happiness will yet be the lot of himself and his estimable wife.
Mr. Comstock was married, February 28, 1866, to Miss Demarius Johnson, who was born in the town of Dunn, daughter of Solomon and Polly (Baker) Johnson, prominent citizens of the locality the father having migrated from the state of New York to Dane county in 1845. Mr. and Mrs. Comstock are the parents of two daughters,–Leila, who resides at home and Fanny J. who is the wife of Russell Jones, an extensive farmer and blooded-stock breeder of Oak Hall, Wis. Each of the daughters received an excellent education in the schools of Dunn township and the village of Oregon.
Mr. Comstock was formerly a Democrat, but in the more recent years has assumed an independent attitude in political matters. He served two terms as chairman of the town board of Dunn, and has also held school offices. The family is connected with the Methodist church in Oregon, and Mr. Comstock has membership with the Modern Woodmen of America.
1906 History of Dane County, Wisconsin, p. 190-192.