Thursday, August 16, 2012

And George Cook Makes Six

When I received the obituary of John B. Cook, saying he was the youngest of six children, I assumed it was a simple error. After all, who knows who wrote that obituary? The only immediate family member left was John's son Charles who was living in California when John died. John had resided in Indiana all his life and was living in a home for the elderly for a number of years with his wife who had died two years before him. It appeared to me that someone at the home had written the obituary. What if they were mistaken about the number of older siblings John had?

When, just a short time later, another researcher pointed out that a George Cook had married Sarah Ann Kirkpatrick, sister of Nancy Jane Kirkpatrick, wife of John's oldest brother Allison, I was in denial for almost a year. How could there be a sibling I knew absolutely nothing about? Last week I decided it was time to chase it down.

I knew that my maternal third great grandparents, Giles and Martha (Brown) Cook had five children. One daughter, Elizabeth Ann, had died as a toddler and was buried next to her parents in the Reddick Cemetery in Rush Co., Indiana. The other four siblings, Allison, Phoebe, Eliza Jane, and John B. appear in two group photos in our family album. One photo was of just the siblings, the other included their spouses. Their mother Martha died in 1841, probably due to complications of giving birth to John, and in 1842 Giles married again to the widow Rebecca (Goble) Parkhurst who had already given birth to at least ten children from her first marriage. Only three of those Parkhurst children lived to see 1850.

Giles Cook (see end note)
By the time the 1850 census was taken, Giles had farmed all his children out except for the youngest, John. I never understood the practice of farming out your children after you remarried, especially teenage boys that could help with farm chores, but I've come across it quite often on both sides of my family.  None of the three living Parkhurst children were in the home either, but Giles and Rebecca had added three brand new Cook children to the fold: William, Margaret Ellen, and Amanda Jane. Three others had been born dead or died as newborns.

In 1850 Allison, 16 years old and the oldest child, was living on the farm of a couple who had a large family. My ancestor, Phoebe, 14, was living with her maternal grandparents, George and Rebecca (Sutherland) Brown. Eliza Jane, 11, was living with her uncle and maternal aunt, Peter and Phoebe (Brown) Smelzer. Eliza would later marry her step brother, George Mason Parkhurst. John B., as I said, was living with his father and step-mother along with his three half-siblings.

When I received John's obituary from the Knightstown Banner, and was later alerted to the fact that Allison's sister-in-law had married a George Cook who was just one year younger than Allison, I knew it was possible that brothers had married sisters. However, Cook is a common name, so I was hesitant to jump to conclusions. So, last week, I decided to  re-examine the 1840 census. Sure enough, there were two boys in the 1830 - 1835 age slot, not one. I searched and searched for George in the 1850 census. Nothing. Where was the 15 year old living? The only possibility I found was in Tippecanoe Co., Indiana. But that was pretty far from Rush county. What made it intriguing though, was the presence of a slightly older boy, Samuel Cook, and two young men with the surname Brown, all living in the same household. If this was our George, who would later marry Sarah Ann Kirkpatrick, these others could all be family members, uncles or cousins. So far, I have not been able to come up with anything worth while on that.

Over the next few days I was able to locate George and Sarah Ann and their family in every other census up until their deaths. George died in 1895 and Sarah Ann married her second husband, Richard Abernathy, in 1901. Sarah died in 1929 and she and George are buried in the Brookside Cemetery in Windfall, Indiana.

Cook siblings in order of age
I still have a lot of work to do to fill in all the accumulated information on George's many descendants in my database. I don't have absolute proof George belongs, but I do have enough bits of evidence to convince me that I need to accept him into the family.  Adding to what I've already mentioned are naming patterns; George may have been named after his maternal grandfather, George Brown, and he named a daughter Martha, possibly after his mother. He named a daughter Nancy Jane, after his wife's sister. George's age also fits him perfectly between Allison and Phoebe. Then there is the obituary of Allison's wife Nancy, where it states that George's son John came all the way from Windfall, Tipton Co., Indiana to attend the funeral. But of course, we know Nancy was his maternal aunt. Was Allison also his paternal uncle? And lastly, there is a family history written a couple of generations later by the granddaughter of Amanda Jane, daughter of Giles and Rebecca, that states that Giles and Martha had eight children before Martha died. If John B. Cook told of being the youngest of six children, it is possible he was not including the toddler Elizabeth Ann, who died before he was born. If the family history is correct, then I'm still one child short somewhere. Another child who, perhaps, died young.

Note: Photo of Giles Cook was from a copy, made for me, of a tintype owned by half-cousin Kathy, very likely made on the farm in Rush county. The two little girls are not identified but, if it is a very early tintype, these may be his two youngest daughters, Margaret Ellen and Amanda Jane, but it is much more likely that they are granddaughters. My best guess would be that they are the two oldest daughters from the first marriage of my ancestor Phoebe: Sarah Elizabeth and Laura Alice Trowbridge. 

Up until fairly recently, I always imagined that Giles Cook was a poor farmer, but those fine horses (click on the photo to see a larger version) are not the horses of a poor farmer!


1 comment: