What Started it All…

This is the first page of Charles Maynard Cooke’s (CMC)  handwritten history, which he called The Cooke Family in America. As Charles was born in 1856 (and therefore lived thru the US Civil War), he was in his 80’s when he wrote this. I am unsure of the date wherein he started it but he finished it by the start of World War II.  I was in 5th or 6th grade when I received my own typewritten copy of this document and from that I did a report on the family history. I took all what it said at face value and just looked at the dates of when everyone was born, died, etc. I then put it away as a curiosity until i was in my 40’s. By then my father, who had become the keeper of the family artifacts, was working on integrating what his father had written and trying to piece together JB’s history from what was absolutely known. (JB, like is father CMC, was a storyteller; so the challenge was picking out the embellishments from facts.) At that point I became interested once again in the family history and reread the document paying closer attention. I also started asking the questions about family relationships and trying to figure those out.

When my father Bleecker, died in 2009 I became the keeper of the ‘treasures’. And my interest became deeper in trying to discern the actual facts of the family history. It was then I discovered that CMC’s manuscript has some factual errors as well as omissions, and things that need to be read in between the lines. I have also begun trying to track down other remnants of the family tree; firstly those descended from CMC and then working backwards up the tree. Thus the reason for this site. See there was a reason after all!

One of the prime factual errors of the document is on this first page; where CMC refers to Uncle George’s letter concerning Aaron’s brother George. While the military governor of Wexford, Ireland was a George Cooke (and one of the main reasons the Irish and English don’t get along), Aaron Cooke, born in Bridport, Dorset, England in 1614, had an older sister, Elizabeth, but no brothers at all. His father Aaron had died in 1615 thus making that relationship near impossible. It is possible that Professor George Cooke used the term brother to mean comrade, but that seems unlikely.

The whole document has been scanned and made into a pdf. Unfortunately it is currently a huge file since it is made of images of the manuscript. *sigh* I will transcribe it one day into a text format and make it available for download.

2 Responses to “What Started it All…”

  1. Doris S. Chriswell says:

    I have just recently been gathering together the information about my husband’s family for his children and grandchildren. We were given a very old copy of a geneology of his mother’s Cook ancestry, done by a Ralph Cooke of Chicago in 1934, tracing back the ancestry of Quartus Cooke.her great grandfather. It is a most interesting document, so full of information and history. It has been a labor of love reproducing it, and finding out so many new and related facts from computer sites.

    I was looking up some of the family crests that I was aware of, and then thought to try Major Aaron Cooke and discovered your absolutely wonderful site, which I had never happened to access.

    Only today when getting ready to pass on a copy of the geneology, Bill’s nephew, a man of 60, was laughing and saying he was so sorry there was no family connection to Captain James Cooke. I commiserated with him and then came across this incredible page of diary/lettter on your site. I was so sorry that I was not able to access the rest of it for some reason. It would have been wonderful reading. I had to stop and tell you how much I treasured finding your site. thank you and I’m going back to read some more. Doris Chriswell

  2. Jeff Tomlin says:

    I enjoy the history of Admiral Charles Cooke. More and more small details emerge with every article, he was an impressive individual. My question, do you know the address of the old Cooke home in Ft Smith. I would like to see if the house is still there. Thanks,


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