Cool Cooleys

Glass negatives from Cooley Mfg. Co. resurface

| July 2006

Several years ago, I received some glass negatives showing the Cooley Mfg. Co. of Waterbury, Vt., from Gleason Ayers, past president of the Waterbury Historical Society. One of the negatives is dated 1899, and I expect they were all taken about the same year.

The negatives were donated to the Society by a member of the Cooley family. They sat unnoticed for many years in a shoebox and have not been reversed.

The sideshaft is on the left side as you are facing the front of the engines. Notice the spark wheel ignition, which seems to be very much like the system patented by John Ostenberg in the late 1800s and used on the early Ostenberg and Abenaque gas engines.

Cooley also made marine engines and the same ignition was used on the early models. In addition, they manufactured boats and launches that were powered by these engines.

The Cooley Mfg. Co. built gasoline engines from the 1890s into the 1910s. The company was established in 1882 by William Cooley. Four of his five sons worked in the business and then ran it after William died in 1905. In 1913, the company was sold to the Wright family.

One of the Cooley sons, Erwin, the most ingenious of the boys, is pictured in the above photo on the left with a helper. He went on to work with the Cummings Engine Co. and became an early diesel pioneer. Two other sons, William T. and Edwin, went to Windsor, Vt., and owned a large foundry known as Windsor Foundry.