The Oneida County Historical Society formally recognized Polly Cooper’s contribution to the American cause during the Revolutionary War by inducting her into its Hall of Fame in 2005.
The recognition of Polly Cooper stands as a tribute to the Oneida Nation and its people, and as a reminder of the contributions the Oneidas provided during the country’s fight for freedom. Cooper has long been held up as an example of the courage, generosity and indomitable spirit of the Oneidas. According to oral tradition, Polly Cooper walked hundreds of miles from Central New York to Valley Forge through the bitter cold winter of a relief mission organized by Chief Shenendoah. The Oneidas brought hundreds of bushels of white corn to feed Gen. George Washington’s starving troops.
Polly Cooper taught the soldiers how to cook the corn and stayed on to help after the others departed for their homeland. After the war, the Colonial Army tried to pay Polly Cooper for her service, but she refused any recompense, stating that it was her duty to help friends in their time of need. However, she did accept a token of appreciation from Martha Washington – a shawl and bonnet, handed down and cared for by successive descendants of Polly Cooper.