What Became of Mahlon Cooper?

It is too bad that Cooper and Curry could not hang on long enough to enjoy the short-lived prosperity caused by the War of 1812. But perhaps that surge in economic activity helped them to recover from their losses in Hunterdon County. I do not know how their creditors recovered, since the sales of the mill property brought in so little ($7 and $50). I gather that Cooper and Curry were not expected to make up the difference, having lost everything in the lawsuit.

It is clear to me that Mahlon Cooper left Hunterdon shortly after the sheriff’s sale of the mill lot. But perhaps some of his children remained. I know nothing of his family except that according to a deed of 1805 his wife was named Jane. They might have had a son named John, for there was a John Cooper who married Mary Nailor (Naylor) at the house of John Rodman on August 22, 1818. Both the Naylors and Rodmans were inhabitants of the Raven Rock neighborhood. In fact, Robert Naylor bought part of Moses Quinby’s 75 acres in 1804 which bordered the mill lot.1

But there is also the likelihood of a Pennsylvania connection. On Jan.  16, 1821, Esther Cooper of Horsham Twp., Montgomery County, married George Lukens of the same place, son of Nathan Lukens. The Lukens family had a connection with the Quinby family; Isaiah Quinby’s daughter Sarah abandoned her Quaker connection to marry Seneca Lukens on Oct. 6, 1777 in Rev. Wm. Frazer’s Anglican church. Lukens died on Dec. 9, 1828 in Horsham Twp. (Seneca Lukens must have been related to Nathan and George Lukens, but I cannot say how.)

Mahlon Cooper may have had a granddaughter named Rachel F. Cooper. In 1845, a woman by that name, living in Saxtonville, married Samuel H. Bray, also of Saxtonville. My usual sources for people living in the early 19th century have not been helpful in this case. But again there is a tenuous connection; Samuel Bray’s sister Sarah married John Johnson, son of Martin Johnson who bordered the Raven Rock mill lot until his death in 1828.

An especially enticing bit of information came from a Google search which showed that a Mahlon Cooper of Philadelphia, millwright, was highly esteemed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, and was hired to help construct a house in Washington, DC for the years 1815 to 1818.2 Latrobe mentioned Cooper and also one “S. Ellis,” . . . “both from Philadelphia . .  perfect masters of their business.” I hope this was the same Mahlon Cooper, for it would mean he managed to overcome his failure at Bull’s Island by adapting his milling skills to become a well-respected builder.

If anyone knows more about the fate and family of Mahlon Cooper, I would love to hear from you.

What Became of Robert Curry?

I can also say very little about Robert Curry. His family came from Pennsylvania. His father, Laughlin Curry, who was born about 1737, was taxed in the City of Philadelphia as early as 1769, and again in 1774. About 1760 he married Margaret Barber, daughter of John Barber and Magdalene Johnson of Amwell (Delaware) Township. Margaret’s father John Barber named her in his will of 1795, and also her children. Laughlin Curry died on November 1, 1803 and was buried in the Barber Cemetery, as was his wife Margaret, who lived on until August 26, 1828.

Laughlin and Margaret Curry had six children, the second son being Robert Curry, who was probably born about 1765. Since his father was being taxed in Pennsylvania at that time, I assume Robert was born there. Another Robert Curry was being taxed in Pennsylvania in the 1770s and 1780s in Philadelphia and nearby townships. The latest record I checked was for 1781 in Philadelphia. This was probably a contemporary of Laughlin Curry’s, possibly a brother.

To show that the Curry family had a connection with the Quinby’s of Raven Rock, there is the marriage of Robert Curry’s sister Margaret to George Lukens on March 1, 1806. This is probably not the George Lukens who married Esther Cooper in 1821, but then, it might be. And we already have the Lukens family connected with the Quinby’s (see above).

Robert Curry must have left Hunterdon after the sheriff’s sale of 1808. He left no estate in Hunterdon County, so I assume he moved back to Pennsylvania. A Robert Curry did marry Anne Larew on May 5, 1817 in Hunterdon County, although Robert, the partner of Mahlon Cooper, would have been about 52 years old by then. The Larew family in Hunterdon County was an extensive one, but I cannot identify this Anne.

With so many questions unanswered, I must say farewell to the elusive Cooper & Curry, millers of Raven Rock.


  1. More research on the Naylor family might shed some light on Mahlon Cooper. But that will be challenging inasmuch as there seems to have been two Robert Naylors in Hunterdon at about the same time, one  who died in Kingwood township about 1828 whose wife was named Mary and had six children (none of whom was the Mary Naylor who married John Cooper), and the other who died about 1822 and was married to Sarah Larison, whose only known child was named Effie.
  2. from The Domestic Architecture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, pg. 654 and The Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Benj. Henry Latrobe 1811-1820, pg. 425.