Thursday, January 2, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday (January 2, 2014) -- The Russell Cooke and Mary Vinal (Otis) Cooke Family Circa 1852

The Russell and Mary Vinal (Otis) Cooke family circa 1851.

Edith McIntyre's handwritten inscription on the reverse side of the photograph identifying the people in the photo. 

Well, 2014 is off to a great start from a genealogy point of view -- as this post will demonstrate!

Over the holiday season of the last two weeks, I have been busy doing some cleaning and rearranging of my home office space -- which is the repository for all my genealogy materials (books, documents, artifacts, etc.).  While cleaning up I came across a box that my mother gave me within the last year or two.  It contains mostly some old photographs, letters and notes from my mother's mother. Among the loose materials in the box -- that I obviously had not paid enough attention to previously -- was the undated letter from my grandmother to her daughter (my mother) shown above.  The letter was not in an envelope and was merely folded in half and placed in the middle of a stack of photos and notes in the box. [While it is a two-sided letter, only the front page is of any relevance to this post.

When I came across the letter in yet another quick review of the contents of the box during my cleaning, this time a photograph popped out and I paused to look at it, to examine the handwriting on the back, and then finally I focused in on the content of my grandmother's letter to my mother. And that was when I experienced my latest "Eureka Moment!" 

The photograph within the folded letter from my grandmother is shown above. The photograph my grandmother sent to my mother is old, but it is definitely NOT an original. It predates 1951, when my mother and father married, because the inscription on the back uses my mother's maiden name. I suspect from my grandmother's letter that the photograph is a copy made from an original daguerreotype and probably dates from the early 1930s when my mother (the oldest of three children) was a young girl. The photograph must have been sent as a gift to my mother with a duplicate provided to my grandmother (as she notes parenthetically in her letter).

There are at least three reasons why this photograph is so thrilling and important to me and my family genealogy: (1) it represents the oldest visual evidence I have of any ancestor -- my great, great, great grandparents in my maternal line; (2) it provides photo images of two ancestors I had never seen pictures of before along with a childhood photo of my great great grandfather and his six siblings that I had also never seen before; and (3) it shows a picture of Mary Vinal Otis (the mother in the photograph holding the baby) who is the link to my second proven line of descent from Richard Warren of the Mayflower! 

The identities of the people in the photograph are handwritten on the back by Edith McIntyre, the daughter of Abby Ann Ruth Cooke (1842 - 1923, the girl bottom right in the photo with the pig tails) and her husband James Harvey McIntyre. According to my grandmother's letter, Edith gifted copies of the photograph to my grandmother and my mother.  I believe the original daguerreotype/photograph was taken in 1852 because the baby in the photo, Charles Willis Cooke, was born in 1851 and looks to be about a year old as he sits on his mother's lap. The people in the photograph, left to right, are:

            Russell Cooke (1810 - 1884) my great, great, great grandfather.
            Charles Willis Cooke (1851 -     ) in the arms of his mother.
            Mary Vinal Cooke, nee Otis (1806 - 1881) -- my great, great, great grandmother.
            William Russell Cooke (1836 - 1899)
            Albert Frances Cooke (1848 -    ) sitting to the left of his mother.
            Edward Otis Cooke (1839 -    ) standing behind his brother Albert.
            Abby Ann Ruth Cooke (1842 - 1923) in pig tails sitting to the left of Albert.
            Mary Thomas Cooke (1834 -    ) standing behind Abby.
            George Henry Cooke (1843 - 1872) my great great grandfather.

Mary Vinal Otis is the 5th great granddaughter of Richard Warren, who came over on the Mayflower, and his wife Elizabeth Walker.

                                   Richard Warren m. Elizabeth Walker
                                   Anna Warren m. Thomas Little
                                   Ephraim Little m. Mary Sturtevant
                                   Mercy Little m. Job Otis, Sr.
                                   Job Otis, Jr. m. Prince  __________
                                   David Otis, Sr. m. Mary Vinal
                                   David Otis, Jr. m. Ruthy Otis
                                   Mary Vinal Otis m. Russell Cooke

My descent from the Cooke family is as follows:

                                  Benjamin Cooke m. Abigail Church*
                                  Russell Cooke m. Mary Vinal Otis
                                  George Henry Cooke m. Susannah C. Appell
                                  Walter Wilson Cooke m. Florence Leonette Flagg
                                  Ruth Eaton Cooke m. Everett Shearman Carpenter
                                  Shirley Carpenter m. Arnold G. Tew, Jr. (my parents)

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Original letter and photograph in the collection of the author.

* Abigail Church was a descendant of Richard Warren through his daughter Elizabeth and her marriage to Richard Church.  Abigail was the 4th great granddaughter of Richard and Elizabeth (Walker) Warren.
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful treasure you have here John! Congrats on finding it and the letter!