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.

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