Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson, daughter of Samuel and Rebecca Simpson, was born in Paxtang township, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, May 7, 1742. Her grandfather, Thomas Simpson, was one of the first settlers in that locality, his name being upon the assessment list of Conestoga township, Chester county, afterwards Donegal, and then Paxtang in Lancaster. The children of the first pioneers, whatever the circumstances of the parents, received a limited education. Mr. Simpson was a well-to-do farmer, and yet so remote was he from the town that his children were educated chiefly at home – a few months in the year of winter school scarcely amounted to more than the rudiments. In household accomplishments, Sarah Simpson excelled. She could spin and weave, and was, therefore, personally fit for the wife of a frontiersman. She married, in 1762, William Cooke. He was the son of John Cooke, born about the year 1739, the father being an early emigrant into Pennsylvania, [father did not leave Ireland-Ed.] coming from near Londonderry, Ireland. In 1767 Mr. Cooke removed his family to Fort Augusta, now Sunbury. He was elected the first sheriff of Northumberland county, October, 1772, and at the opening of the struggle for independence one of its firmest supporters. He was a member of the Committee of Observation for the county, of the Provincial Conference of June 18, 1776, and of the Constitutional Convention of July following. On the last day of the session of the latter body he was chosen and recommended as colonel of the battalion to be raised in the counties of Northampton and Northumberland. This became the Twelfth Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line, and being composed of riflemen, was employed upon picket duty and covered the front of General Washington’s army during the year 1777, while detachments were sent from it to General Gates, materially assisting in the capture of Burgoyne. His regiment was so badly cut up at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, that it was disbanded and Colonel Cooke mustered out of service. He was appointed deputy quartermaster of stores during the years 1778, 1779 and 1780. In 1781 and 1782 he was chosen to the General Assembly; commissioned one of the justices October 3, 1786, and January 16, 1796, an Associate Judge of Northumberland county. He died at the town of Northumberland April 22, 1804, the family having removed thither as early as 1775. It was during this year that the Rev. Philip Fithian, in his journal, alludes to the invitation of Sheriff Cooke to stop with him. Mrs. Cooke was certainly an agreeable woman – hospitable and kind in the extreme. During the war, her husband in the patriot army, many duties devolved upon her, apart from the care and education of her children. Amidst the gloom, her strong old Calvinistic faith buoyed up her heart, and her firm reliance upon the God of Battles nerved her for whatever might befall her. Finally her husband returned from the war, relieving her anxiety. During the summer of 1778 their house was a hospital, as well as an asylum, where the wounded and sick, the helpless women and children received care and succor. Mrs. Cooke was never weary in well-doing. When peace dawned plenty was added to their stores, for in a letter to a brother in London, in 1786, Colonel Cooke writes declining the offer of money, but says: “You desire me to make out such a list of books as Johnny requires to complete his library and you would send them in the spring, and I thought that would be sufficient at present, and yet I would take it as a kindness if you would pack up a piece of chintz along with Johnny’s books that would make each of the girls a pattern of a gown.” He also adds, that he had “just completed a grist mill two and a half miles from here, which goes very well.” Mrs. Cooke died at Northumberland in 1822. The Johnny referred to was her second child who, as Mr. Linn so fitly observed, “was cradled amid the din of arms.” It was while he had entered the practice of the law, in 1792, that a call was made upon him, and he received a captain’s commission in the Fourth Sub-legion of the United States Army. His company was chiefly recruited at Northumberland. It was under Wayne at the Miami, and assisted in checking the power of the confederated Indians in the Northwest Territory. Upon his return from the army, he married and settled down to works of peace at Northumberland. Colonel Cooke’s daughter Mary married Robert Brady, while Jane became the wife of William P. Brady, sons of the gallant Capt. John Brady. Rebecca Cooke married William Steedman, Elizabeth married — Martin, and Sarah, the youngest daughter, married first, William MeClelland, and secondly, Judge Samuel Harris, of Lycoming county. William Cooke married Martha Lemmon, daughter of James Lemmon. The descendants of Colonel and Mrs. Cooke are among the best citizens of the State, people who appreciate and revere the patriotic virtues of their ancestors.

Some PA Women During the War of the Revolution by William H. Egle, Harrisburg Publishing Co., Harrisburg, PA, 1898.