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Biography of Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Cooke Partridge

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Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Cooke Partridge, a well-known musician of Claremont and a zealous worker in the cause of temperance, was born in Claremont, daughter of Godfrey and Abigail (Hubbard) Cooke. Her paternal grandfather, Captain John Cooke, of Norton, Mass., was among the first of the minute-men to report at Lexington in response to the alarm of April 19, 1775, for six days’ service. He again enlisted with the rank of Ensign, and was mustered out August 1, 1775. For the third time he enlisted December 8, 1776, in a Rhode Island regiment, under Colonel John Daggett. About the year 1779 he came to Claremont, and bought a large and valuable tract of meadow land and the tavern thereon. This tavern he conducted for years with much success. A family tradition has it that “a bushel of Continental money changed hands when the old tavern was bought.” His daughter, Matilda, married Colonel Josiah Stevens, who was the father of Paran Stevens, a famous hotel man. Paran Stevens received his first lessons in the hotel Godfrey Cooke. The Stevens High School was his gift to the village of Claremont. His daughter married Arthur Henry Fitzroy Paget, a son of General Paget of Waterloo fame. His sister married Samuel Fiske, the donor of the Fiske Free Library in Claremont.

Godfrey Cooke and his brother George succeeded their father in the proprietorship of the tavern, which under their able management became famous from Boston to Northern Vermont. Not long after the death of his father Godfrey Cooke bought the interest of his brother George. Under him the surroundings were much beautified. He built a large and elegant family residence in 1825; and he improved the farm of four hundred acres connected with the tavern, so that it was considered the finest in the town. He married Abigail, daughter of Jonathan Hubbard, of Charlestown, N.H., and became the father of five children-Catherine M., Henry Hubbard, Helen Maria, George F., and Mary Elizabeth. Catherine married Charles R. Bingham, and had four children, of whom Helen C. and Catherine E. attained maturity. Henry Hubbard, who graduated from Dartmouth College, died at the Theological Seminary in New York, where he was preparing for the Episcopal ministry, one year before his ordination. In the habit of visiting the sick and dying, to minister to their spiritual needs, he caught the contagion of small-pox, which was the cause of his death. His heart and soul were in his work, and he was greatly mourned by his class-mates and friends. Helen Maria, now deceased, who married Frederick Smith, of Cornish, N.H., is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth A. Smith. George F. Cooke was killed by accident on the homestead at the age of twenty-six.

Mary Elizabeth Cooke, the youngest of her parents’ children, had the best educational advantages. On completing the course of the Kimball Union Academy, she was sent to Boston, where she was thoroughly trained in piano playing. Then she returned to Claremont, engaged in piano teaching, and soon drew about her a class of forty eager students. She afterward followed this occupation with success for thirty years. She married Edward A. Partridge, son of Milton Partridge, the representative of a well-known family of Norwich, Vt., and from which the military school of that place takes its name. Milton Partridge, who was well versed in military subjects, became a fencing teacher at West Point. From there he removed to Tarrytown, N.Y., and was afterward successfully engaged in executing large engineering contracts. He was killed by accident. His son William is now a prominent civil engineer of Normal, Ill. Edward A. Partridge graduated from Dartmouth College, and studied civil engineering under General Ransom at Norwich. He was subsequently appointed city engineer of Dubuque, Ia., and died in the following year. Mary Elizabeth, his only child, has studied the pianoforte with her mother, the organ under Professor Whiting, of Boston, and the guitar with Hayden. She has taken her mother’s piano classes, and also conducts large classes in the study of the organ and guitar. Both mother and daughter are universal favorites in the society of Claremont. They returned to Claremont immediately after the death of Mr. Partridge.

Mrs. Partridge has been especially active in the temperance cause. She is a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, was county President from 1891 to 1896, and for twenty years was closely identified with this society. She was for ten years, under appointment of the Union, the superintendent New Hampshire. This position entailed much travelling, which was gladly accomplished without remuneration. Mrs. Partridge was instrumental in establishing police matrons for the care of arrested females in the police stations of Nashua and Manchester, and she worked hard and incessantly for the improvement of almshouses, securing better accommodations, with especial wards for the insane, and removing children to good homes. When she resigned in the fall of 1896, owing to impaired health, her successor found that Mrs. Partridge’s methodical work had left to her an easy road. Her daughter, who is also deeply interested in this philanthropic work, attended the National Convention of the W. C. T. U. in October, 1896, as State delegate, and is now State Reporter for the Union Signal of Chicago. Both Mrs. and Miss Partridge are prominent workers in the Episcopal Church of Claremont


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