Showing posts with label Clooningan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clooningan. Show all posts

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.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Window Into the Past - More on My Cooke Relatives

The Cooke family homestead, sometime in the 50's. We don't know who these people are.


I've been hearing regularly from my cousin, Ciaran Brett, in Ireland. Ciaran has made a firm connection between his family and mine which you will see in the family tree. You will remember that I found Ciaran through Ireland Reaching Out, which I recommend to anyone doing Irish research. Ciaran wanted me to see this particular picture because it shows the homestead where his mother was born and where the family still lives. But you can see in this picture the thatch roof and the lime wash walls which was very traditional. We're not sure who the people in the picture are. Family, no doubt.
For the next picture you will need what I've constructed to show my connection to Ciaran.
A partial Cooke family tree
By my reckoning, Katie and Ciaran's grandfather were first cousins, Dad and his mother were second cousins, and Ciaran and I are third cousins. Ciaran sent me a much more extensive file with all the family tree he has found. The Cookes go waaay back on this land and, more importantly, they were land owners!
Josie Cooke, James "Jimmy" Cooke and Bridget Coffey Cooke some time in the fifties.
This picture shows Ciaran's mother, her uncle James and her mother Bridget. James emigrated to Philadelphia, so Ciaran suspects he was home for a visit at the time. Again you get a good look at the family home and the thatch roof. This is all part of the property I wrote about in a previous post.
If I'm understanding this correctly, this is the very same house Ciaran's brother lives in now.


You can clearly see the "bones" of the old house and wall here. I think Ciaran said they used the stone from the much older Cooke house, which is in ruins on the property, for the stone work on this house.
So nice to have these photos and a little window into my family's past.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fairy Forts and Leprechauns- The Cookes of Clooningan

Former home of Michael Cooke and family, Clooningan, Sligo, Ireland
     No, I haven't lost my mind. I have scored yet another find in my family history. You are looking at the house in which my grandmother, Catherine Marie Cooke was born in March 1878. It would have had different windows and a thatch roof, but this is the family home. How did I find this? Well, I joined a website called Ireland Reaching Out. I can highly recommend this site as I've had hits for both the Fitzgerald and Cooke sides of the family. The one that yielded this photo was from Ciaran, who, it turns out, is a rather close cousin still living in the area. More on all that later. He sent me a whole series of photos of the Cooke property including this one. This property was sold out of the family, but some of the surrounding land is still occupied and farmed by family.
     The photos that intrigued me were labeled as a "high circle" or "fairy fort" which still exists on the property. What is a fairy fort? Well, I had to find out. A ráth or fairy fort is the remains of a stone age or early Christian period ring fort which was built as a defensive enclosure.  A high clay bank was built up in a large ring, surrounded by a ditch and topped with a wooden stockade enclosing wood-framed dwellings. In western Ireland, where stone was more plentiful, the surround would be of stone as you see here.
Ringfort in Donegal
The ringfort on the Cooke property was most likely of the wooden variety. You often see pictures of the surviving trees or large hedges that surrounded them. Here's the view up the hill on the Cooke property where you can see the ring of trees.

And here's the view at the fairy fort itself.
You can see that a line of trees has been deliberately planted, but it's hard to tell much. I went to Google Earth to get a better look.

You can see the fairy fort at the tip of the red arrow and the Michael Cooke home just below it along the road to the right.
     The next part is where a strong dose of Irish imagination figures in. The Irish folklore holds that fairy forts were imbued with Druid magic and with the Tuatha Dé Danann and were entry points into the fairy world. (The Tuatha Dé Danann were the ancient pre-Celtic inhabitants of Ireland) Altering a ringfort in any way would bring terrible fortune on that person. (Even cutting the whitethorn brush around them) There are also numerous tales of supernatural experiences happening at these ringforts. Another story associated with a ringfort is that this is the place where a leprechaun hides his gold. Clearly my relatives never benefited from the help of a leprechaun!
     I'm not a big fan of the American celebration of St. Patrick's Day, but this tidbit seemed too good to pass up. Many American-born Irish know so little about true Irish culture or language or folklore.  I also realized just this morning that today would be my grandmother's birthday. She was born on March 4, 1878. So Happy Birthday Katie. I'm thinking of you.