Friday, January 26, 2018

A Sense of Character- An Addendum to My Tale of Michael S. Cooke

Michael Cooke's business stationery-courtesy of Ralph Lane
One of the things I enjoy about finding records, notes, letters and newspaper stories about the more distant ancestors is that it gives you a real sense of their character and their personalities. My cousin Mark Tapply made this point in a previous point about Charles Tapply's army desertion: "Who in their right mind, would go off and fight for a huge corporation (the British East India Company)and their profits, while leaving his wife and 2 kids alone to fend for themselves? That took a lot of courage!"   Good point. His comment made me see things through the eyes of my great-grandfather and gave me an insight into his thinking.

After my last post a few days ago, I was back again at Newspapers.com trying to find anything more I could add to the story of Michael Stinson Cooke. I found it.
Michael Stinson Cooke died on the 27th of October, 1897 at his home in San Francisco. Less than a week later, this touching story ran in the San Francisco Chronicle. I've transcribed it for you because it's a bit difficult to read in the image:

Followed Its Master; They Were Inseparable In Life and In Death

     The officers of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were called upon yesterday by people living in the Richmond district to kill a horse that had become quite historical in that locality, but which, since the death of its master about a week ago, had lost its value in this world.
     About a week ago M.S. Cook, residing at the corner of Cook street and Point Lobos avenue, died at his home. Through life he had been well known in the district, and Cook street had been named after him. Cook possessed a beautiful sorrel horse, which for the past twenty-five years has been his constant and inseparable companion. One of the sights of the district was to see old man Cook and the horse out every day for their constitutional. They both grew old together.
     When Cook died a week ago his family did not know what to do with the horse. During life it was too dear to Cook to part with, but since Cook had died the animal's vocation in life ceased. Fearing that if allowed to live the horse might fall into other hands, and having for themselves no further use for it, the family decided to have him shot. When Office Walton arrived, Mrs. Cook refused to have the shooting done in an other place save the lot where the animal has been brought up. So he was compelled to kill the animal there.

What a lovely and touching story this is! And it reveals so much about the character of these people that they showed such concern and compassion for the horse that had become a member of the family.
Just another reminder that good genealogy is about more than facts and figures.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A San Francisco Pioneer

Ann Cooke, Mary Ann Cooke, Michael Stinson Cooke
The pictures of their parents were taken earlier, in their thirties, perhaps. Mary Ann is about 20 in her photo.
Meet my latest discovery in my search for the Irish side of the family. Ciaran Brett had been in touch with someone online who said his ancestor was a Cooke who hailed from Clooningan. Well, if that proved true, this had to be another family member. Clooningan is a tiny little townland. If you're a Cooke from Clooningan, you're some kind of family.

Here's a tree to make it clearer.

Ralph Lane, who has so kindly provided the photos, is my fourth cousin once removed. His ancestor, Michael Stinson Cooke was a San Francisco pioneer.

Many of the Irish who came to early San Francisco settled at the top of Portrero Hill. Michael Cooke, however, settled in what was once thought of as the sand wastelands at a place called Lone Mountain. He and a partner owned the land on the north slope of Lone Mountain in the area where the university is now. He was a dairyman. His daughter described the early home as a "two room shack" where the boards were brought in one board at a time. Mary Ann used to say that she was the first white child born west of Larkin Street. Her birth date is given as 1855. This was very early San Francisco. It would have been rugged. 
1862
Here he is in an early San Francisco directory. By 1862, the city fathers already had plans for this area. You can see what their plans were by looking at the directory: "nr. cemetery". When they began planting the dead all around his land, Michael Cooke sold the land to Bishop Alemany for the creation of the Catholic Cemetery. He did some tenant farming in the East Bay and earned the money to build on a lot back in the old neighborhood.
Ann Cooke in front of the house at Cook Street and Point Lobos (now Geary)
Here is Ann Smith Cooke in front of the house they built. It was right on the corner of Cook Street and what is now Geary Boulevard. Ralph Lane says there is a tire shop and an empty lot there today.
The area outlined in red is the land Michael once owned. That's Golden Gate Park at the bottom left. The cemeteries were moved to Colma after the turn of the century. Just north of the red area you can see Cook Street and Geary where the newer home stood between Cook and Baker. Michael went on to work at various jobs. Later censuses list him as a teamster. Ralph wrote me this " I have an invoice from 1879 on stationery of M.S. Cook, dealer in Hay, Grain, Feed, Wood and Coal, corner Geary and Cook Streets, (goods delivered to all parts of the city and suburbs free of charge"
Cooke house looking from Lone Mountain
In this early picture looking down from Lone Mountain, you can see the Cooke house under the red arrow. The wooded area at the dead end of Cooke Street was a cemetery, the bare land in the far ground is what is now the Presidio.  Point Lobos (now Geary) runs in front of the house.

I'm sure there is lots more to be discovered. Ralph has also forwarded a letter and an obituary that shed more light on the family, both the San Francisco branch and the Clooningan branch. The more I discover, the more I want to know. I spent a year in San Francisco and never had a clue about the gold right under my feet.