27 April 2009

Madness Monday, William Vaughn Cook apx 1859 - 1945

I know I've touched on the subject of my husbands great great grandfather William Vaughn COOK in the past. At that time I thought his name was spelled COOKE, but as I changed the name today and did more research I quickly discovered records for him by dropping the "e" in the surname.

Surprisingly just spending today on his file I found three census records and his Dawes Packet for Indian rights. Yet I still don't know exactly when and where he was born or who his parents were. He seems to follow the same scenario that my own great great grandfather, I posted about a couple weeks ago William Grant Woolsey, did. I can trace his life easily after his marriage, but know little to nothing prior to that time. What is it with these men?

Up until today I really only had two sources of information about William Vaughn Cooke. The first was my mother-in-law. She knew some names in her husband's family. First she knew that my husbands great grandmother was named Stella Cook and that she married James "Rubin" Ward. Their daughter was my husband's grandmother, Ruth Ann Ward. She also knew that it was Stella who was a descendant of Jesse Chisholm of OK, whom the Chisholm trail was named after. Stella's mother was Mary Chisholm the granddaughter of Jesse Chisholm. She gave me a few dates that she could remember, but not much there.

In photo is Rubin and Stella (daughter of William) Ward with baby daughter Ruth. This was likely taken around the time of the 1910 census and probably at their home in Byers, McClain Co., OK.

Mostly with the names I began my search. I got lucky and stumbled across a cousin whom still corresponds with me from time to time who exchanged more information about the Chisholm family and also pointed me toward a transcription of Mary A Chisholm's memoirs.
Even if you have no interest in the Chisholm's I highly recommend reading her memoirs. It's very interesting reading as she also speaks of many other people she grew up with and knew in her life. But of course the most important information she gave in her memoir for me at the time was of her husband William V Cooke. This is where I got the spelling of the Cook name as Cooke. I assumed she knew how to spell her own name, and I'm still not sure that the name isn't spelled with an "e". It's just none of the records I've found are spelled Cooke, but rather Cook.

For the last few years I have been at a dead end with this family, until today when I filled out one of my Individual Research Worksheets and began my search. For me I always find it useful to do a broad search for the person on Ancestry.com to see what records I might find before I tailor my searches to look for specific records. So I first searched for William Vaughn Cooke, born about 1859 in OK only to find nothing. So I tried again only I changed the surname to COOK and also added that he lived in OK (which I knew from family accounts). Voila! There he was three census records in a row; 1930 then 1920 and last a few lines down in 1910.

1930 Census in Maxwell, Pontotoc Co., OK is William COOK age 71 and Mary, wife, age 62.
1920 Census in Byers, McClain Co., OK is William COOK age 60, wife Mary age 50, Charles, son age 36, divorced, William Graham son-in-law age 33, Lavera, daughter age 26 and Edward, grandson age 8.
1910 Census in Byers, McClain Co., OK is William COOK age 51, wife Mary age 43, son Charles age 23, daughter Stella age 21, Vern 18, William 13 and Cleo age 12.

In all three of the census records William states he is born in MO as well as his mother. In two of the three he states his father is born in KY and in one in MO. Also noted that in the 1910 census the family is living next door to Rubin and Stella Ward with baby daughter Ruth. Now that is funny, Stella is listed as living in both house holds. I think someone forgot that their daughter was married the previous year and is living next door. Then I realized that I had this same record in Rubin's file. Well I had found that back when I was a rookie. I guess I didn't realize the importance of neighbors back then. Go figure!

Now I had a location for the family. Which I had suspected was their area of residence all along. According to the family all (or most all) of the COOK and CHISHOLM family members are buried in the COOK/CHISHOLM Family Cemetery in McClain County, Oklahoma and supposedly that was on the Chisholm family homestead. I've been emailing and trying to find out from people if this homestead is still in the possession of Chisholm descendants. We know it had been as of about ten years ago, but last we heard the cousin who owned it passed away. Which worries me as to rather or not the family cemetery is being cared for. Anyway I'm sure this will be an article for another day.

So next I looked for information on his burial and the family cemetery on Find-A-Grave, as well as UsGenWeb, Oklahoma, McClain County. With no luck. The only thing I did find was the Cook/Chisholm Family Cemetery listed on a list of cemeteries in McClain County.

So next I pulled up Footnote. I am having so much fun finding large files of information on family members on this site, and once again Footnote did not disappoint me. About five records down is a Dawes Packet for William V COOK. I wasn't exactly expecting this because though I knew his wife Mary was Native American I didn't think he was. But he did file for Indian rights under intermarriage laws. Included in the packet was a letter from the judge who married them confirming that they were married 19 Nov 1885 in Pontotoc Co., Chickasaw Nation. In the interview with the commissioner William states that he is forty years old, that he had lived in the area for 20 years and that his wife was Mary Chisholm of Chickasaw blood. This means that William was born about 1862 which is a bit off from all three census records that would put his birth at about 1859. He says he had lived in the Chickasaw Nation for about 20 years which means since this interview was conducted on 22 Oct 1902 that he would have moved to the area about 1882 just a few years before he married Mary.

I will keep looking and I hope to find more.

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