John and Sarah Cook

Related pages:
Cook land deals
Springville cemetery:

What I started with. According to the information given to me by my grandparents, my g-g-grandfather William Voss married Elizabeth Cook in Indiana in 1836 or 1837. Elizabeth was the daughter of John Cook and Sarah Mock, and was supposed to have been born in 1817 in North Carolina. I had no other information about John or Sarah.

Among the pictures in my grandparents' scrapbook was this very faded photograph. On the back is written "My Grand Father Cook Paris Ill." I believe the handwriting is that of my great-grandmother, Sarah (Voss) Walker, and that this old gentleman peering at us through the mists of time is my g-g-g-grandfather, John Cook. There is indeed a Paris, in Edgar county, IL, across the Wabash from Terre Haute, IN. See below for my discoveries in that county.

Discoveries and Questions. I was at this dead end until January 2004, when I stumbled over an 1860 census entry which appears to be that of my ancestor, who is listed along with a 43-year-old woman, M. A. Cook, in Springville, Lawrence county, Indiana. This is the same tiny village where William and Elizabeth (Cook) Voss were living in 1860. John Cook's occupation of "M. E. Minister" in this census certainly fits in! William Voss' relatives were all very definitely Methodists and it's very likely he would marry a Methodist woman. Since John Cook went from being a farmer in 1850 to a minister in 1860, we can only guess that the path to the ministry was quite different in those days!

On the same page appear the families of merchants W. S. Cook and Jacob Cook, who were born in Indiana, as well as the families of a farmer named J. B. Newbank, who seems to be the husband of John and Sarah's daughter Martha, and of a man named P. G. Paugh, whom we identify tentatively as the husband of another daughter, Eliza. On another Springville page are the families of John Cook jr., and Nancy Cook, with her husband Orange Dye.

Are any of these people related to the Elizabeth Cook who married William Voss? Is this John Cook her father? If so, where is Sarah? Who is this woman who was born at about the same time as Elizabeth, but in Kentucky? John and Sarah's eldest child, or John's much younger second wife? Elizabeth and William Voss were also enumerated in Springville in 1860, on the same page as Joseph Cook. Does Elizabeth's age of 44 in the 1860 census imply that my grandmother was off by a year or two in her guess at Elizabeth's birth year?

Did the family move from North Carolina to Kentucky between Elizabeth's birth and M. A.'s, then on to Indiana before W. S.' birth in about 1823? Perhaps. John Cook doesn't turn up in Lawrence county until the 1840 census, which lists a John Cook, along with one male 5-10 years old, 2 males 10-15, 1 male 15-20, 1 male 40-50, 2 females 5-10, 2 females 20-30, and one female 40-50; coincidentally, there's an Olly [?] Crook two lines after John on the census page.

The Cooks and other families with whom they intermarried were active in local civic affairs. An article in The Independent of Bedford, Indiana, dated 7 August 1856 reports:


Pursuant to previous notice, the delegates from the different townships, and a large concourse of People, met at the court house in Bedford, on Tuesday, August 5, 1856, for the purpose of nominating candidates for the various county offices. Maj. Henry P. THORNTON was called to the chair, and made some very excellent and well-timed remarks. John BAKER, Esq. of Bedford, W. S. COOKE, of Springville, and C. G. BERRY, were appointed Secretaries.--The following delegates were then announced...

Perry. -- John P. GAINEY, W. S. COOKE, Olla CROOKS, A. B. RAINBOLT, P. G. PAUGH, Saml. ANDERSON, Oliver SHORT, Hiram LOWDER...

As you will note, their name wasn't always spelled Cook, and there were other people in the vicinity named Crooks, or Crook, which may cause us confusion while we're searching old public records.

Other Cooks. I once included a David Cook (1777-1819) and a David L. Cook (1783-1817) among the Cooks listed in this page. They were buried in Springville cemetery, but I couldn't determine their connection to the rest of the Cooks. Then, in January 2006, I heard from Andy Likins, who said David L. was his 4g-grandfather and the other David was David L.'s father, and quite likely aren't related at all to "my" Cooks. Andy also informed me that the 1s on his ancestors' tombstones were actually 4s and that their dates should probably be "1777-1849" and "1811-1847".

In March 2010, Mary Lee Young wrote to me that her 3g-grandmother, Rosanna Cook, who was born in North Carolina in 1809, had married a Horatio Jeter and lived in Lawrence county with him. Mary Lee wondered if there could have been any connection between Rosanna and my Cooks. My investigation failed to reveal any close relationship, although we can speculate whether she might be related to John's family through common ancestors in Virginia or North Carolina.

Where is Sarah? There was an entry in the burial list of the Springville West (Old Methodist) cemetery in Perry township for a "Sarah, wife of John Cook". No sooner did I inquire about that entry than I received a photo of Sarah's grave from Treva E. Peckham, who maintains the excellent web page where I found Sarah listed. If Sarah died "in her 61st year", as her tombstone says, that would place her birth date in late 1791 or early 1792. However, her 1850 census entry implies a birth date of 1794 for her, and it's a tossup whether daughter Martha's age was recorded as 13 or 15 by the census taker. (It would have been just a little unlikely for a 58- or 59-year-old woman to have a 13-year-old child.) So, we still have a question as to the accuracy of Sarah's age at death on the tombstone. Treva sent us several other photos from the Methodist cemetery which we've included in our Bloomington scrapbook.

Where did they all go? After discovering lots of Cooks in the 1860 census in Springville, I checked the 1870 census for the same place and found no Cooks at all! There were several Cooks elsewhere in Lawrence county, but none of them resembled "my" Cooks. It looks like the entire clan abandoned their Indiana homes between 1860 and 1870. Did they join the multitudes of Americans who were heading West after the Civil War?

Taking a hint from great-grandma, I searched for Cooks in Edgar county, IL, in 1870, and found Jacob and William's families in Paris, barely 100 miles northwest of Springville. Treva provided a list of Lawrence county real estate transactions which included several sales of Cook properties in mid-1863. Joseph and Mary Cook and John and Martha Newbank were already in Illinois on 3 July to sign transfer papers. Even though some of our Cooks left Indiana at that time, some stayed behind. Joseph was buried at Springville in 1864 and Elizabeth in 1866.

The notation on the back of John Cook's photograph was the only evidence I had that he ever lived anywhere but in Lawrence county. Gayle Williams later discovered that he died soon after making the trip West and is buried in the Edgar cemetery.

In 1880, William and Angeline Cook were enumerated in Edgar county once again, while their oldest child, Maria Cook, whose photo appears in great-grandma's photo album and who had disappeared from view in 1870, turned up in Cedar county, Iowa, along with her husband Jeremiah Helmer and two children. After William died in 1894, Angeline moved in with her daughter, Cyrene and her husband Charles Petit, about 60 miles west in Moultrie county. Their son Nathaniel or Sherman and his family were also living with the Petits there in 1900.

Jacob and Mattie Cook's daughter, Maude Cook, whose picture also appears in great-grandma's album, disappeared after 1870 and may have married, but in 1880 her little sister Lodorska turned up 15 miles south of Paris in Marshall, Clark county, IL, living with Mattie, two brothers and her English husband Edward Holbrook.

Not all the Cooks went to Edgar county. My g-g-grandmother moved to Bloomington with her husband and died there in 1866. Perhaps her health was already failing less than three years earlier at a time when the rest of the Cooks were getting ready to move. In September 2004, Teri Moncelle-Colglazier discovered this page and contacted me. Teri is descended from John and Sarah's daughter Eliza, who married Dr. Phreeborn Garrison Paugh. Teri confirmed the unique spelling of Dr. Paugh's first name1 and filled in the information you see on this page about Eliza and P. G.'s descendants. When Teri told me that the Paughs lived in Effingham county, IL, for a number of years, I was able to locate them immediately in the 1870 and 1880 censuses there. The census evidence implies that Joseph B. Cook's widow, Mary (Paugh) Cook, and some of her children may have joined these Paughs in Illinois. Contact Teri for further information on the Paughs! Teri also maintains a web site with a considerable amount of information on the Cooks, Mocks and related families, including Sarah Mock and her ancestors.

The rest of the family is still unaccounted for. Cook is a very common surname and there are dozens of Cooks to sort through, wherever we might look. Research continues!

Why did they leave? There do not seem to be any news items from 1863 which mention the Cooks' departure. But it's likely they were a part of an ongoing exodus from Lawrence county, to judge by this article in the 20 Sep 1865 issue of The Independent:

MOVING WEST. -- A number of the best citizens of our town and county, are disposing of their property preparatory to seeking homes further west. Messrs. SOUTHERN, SULLIVAN, BROWN, KERN, QUACKENBUSCH, NEAL, POTTER, LAVACK, HUMMER, KELLY, BOYD, and many others whose names we do not now recollect. are among the emigrants.

The Bedford area's unhealthy economic situation, which was undoubtedly a part of the Cooks', Paughs', Gaineys', and other families' desires to move out, is described in another article in the same issue:

PRESENT AND PROSPECTIVE. -- It is rumored that the Directors of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad, have sold their line to the Atlantic & Great Western Company, and that the new proprietors intend laying a double track, and to straighten the road, in order that it may, as near as possible, be an air line from Cincinnati to St. Louis. If this is done, the road will be brought over a route surveyed by Mr. MITCHELL, previous to the survey which locates it on the present line. In fact, we are informed that when the bill to allow the O. & M. Road to sell out was introduced into the Legislature last winter, a pledge was given by the Atlantic Railroad's President that if a purchase was effected by his company, the road should go over the originally surveyed route, through Bedford.

Unless we get this Road, we may as well put up the shutters, and hang crape upon the doors of our town, as it will be as effectually "played out" as possible. We have failed on incorporation; frequent attempts have been made to organize turnpike companies, but without success; not a half dozen new houses have been built in town during the past three years; our population has not increased, but the number and variety of our business houses has; when the Fall rains begin, it is next to impossible to get into or out of Bedford with a team; our railroad is a very uncertain mode of transit during the winter months, and thus we are almost isolated during bad weather. The consequence of all this is, that our merchants, with more competition, will be compelled to depend upon town custom, or catch an occasional horseman, who will buy lightly because of inconvenience attending transportation, and as our business men sit in their storerooms and offices, gazing sullenly out into the slushy, lifeless streets, they will grumble at the stagnation of trade, and wonder why it is so. There may not be enough romance in this statement to suit the fastidious tastes of many of our citizens, but it is true, and hence the more unpalatable.

The remedy is in your own hands, gentlemen--but three things are necessary:

1st, ACTION; 2d, action; 3d, action. Will you apply it?

In November 2005, another piece in the puzzle of the Cooks' migration to Illinois fell in place when I was contacted by Gayle Williams, who said her g-g-grandmother Sarah Jane Cook was born in Springville, IN, in 1830, and moved to Paris, IL, after marrying John Vance Bovell. Gayle wondered if her ancestor was related to any of my own Cooks. At first I was dubious, but then I noticed that one of John and Sarah Cook's children, Jane, was unaccounted for after 1850. Gayle's ancestor had a sister whose name was listed as Mrs. Newbanks. We're now 100% certain these are John and Sarah's daughters. Sarah Jane's marriage to John Bovell and their move to Illinois before 1860 may have provided the rest of the Cook family an excuse to get out of Indiana in 1863! We've started a separate page for John and Sarah Jane with some of the information provided by Gayle.

Descendants. Based on the listings of burials, marriages and census data, I put together the chart below of some of Sarah and John's descendants, with their dates and places of birth and death. Remember that these are only guesses. Some of the families listed may be unrelated, or distantly-related, Cooks who just happened to be living in this tiny Indiana town in 1850 or 1860. Also, I have no way of identifying female Cooks who may be listed under their husbands' surnames. (The Indiana and Illinois marriage data bases list several marriages of Cook women.) I'm displaying spouses' information in green to distinguish a person's spouse from a sibling. The ~ signifies an approximate date based on a census record, while a range of years, e.g. 1825/8, indicates the existence of conflicting data in the census or other records.

The Lawrence county census takers weren't very helpful about filling in complete names for people, especially children, often giving only their initials. I'm giving children's genders below for any cases where there might be a question.

John and Sarah Cook descendants

Key to sources:

Sarah Jane and Martha COOK
Photo courtesy of Gayle Williams

Are any of my Cook cousins reading this page? I'd certainly like to hear from you so we can share information about our common ancestors. Some of the listings of families given here are very SPECULATIVE! I cannot be 100 per cent certain that the persons mentioned are related to one another or to me. Your input is always welcome.

0 Our Springville cemetery photo album includes a picture of this person's grave stone.
1 The "unique spelling" of Dr. Paugh's first name, and of his middle name, may actually be unique misspellings of the name of a pioneer Methodist evangelist, Freeborn Garrettson (1752-1827). The Paughs were undoubtedly Methodists, as were the Cooks and Vosses.
2 There's an M. A. Cook in the 1860 census, and a Mary Ann Cook in several land transactions. Do both refer to the same person? Is this John and Sarah's daughter?
3 There was a Helmer couple living in Springville in 1860 who could be related to Maria's husband -- Melchert, aged 58, and Lucinda, aged 55. They were still there in 1870. In 1870, there were two Helmer families living in the same township in Iowa where Maria and Jeremiah were living in 1880. Did the census taker overlook Maria and Jeremiah, or were they in transit, in 1870?
4 Phreeborn G. Paugh was married 11 Aug 1831 in Lawrence county to Hannah Scoggin or Scoggins,0 (b 16 Jul 1813, d 13 May 1840). The 1860 census lists a 25-year-old female, Sarah E. Paugh and a 21-year-old male, W. Paugh, with Phreeborn and Eliza, who were probably Phreeborn's children by Hannah. According to Teri, Phreeborn and Hannah had another son, Henry Paugh, who was born between 1832 and 1840 and "Dr. P. G. Paugh was a noted physician and gained wide recognition for his contributions during the 1832 cholera epidemic."
5 This Mary Paugh could be Phreeborn and Hannah's daughter. She fits in, agewise, and there's a 33-year-old Mary Cook, and two children, listed in the 1870 census with Dr. F. C. and Eliza Paugh in Mason, IL.
6 I'm unsure whether the M. A. listed in the 1860 census and the Martha in 1870 are the same woman. The existence of two children with similar entries between the two censuses suggests strongly that this is the same Jacob, in spite of the differences in his reported age. And three of the kids show up again with Mattie in 1880. The marriage date and the name Martha J. McCann were provided by Treva Peckham from the compilation of Lawrence county marriages listed above.
7 There is some conflicting evidence as to Sarah Jane's birthdate. See her page for a discussion.
8 Note the conflict between Sarah Jane and Martha's birth dates. The dates are taken from their tombstones.
9 This surname sometimes appears without the final s, but we believe this to be the correct spelling. It is also sometimes confused with the Newkirk surname which was a common one in Lawrence county in the mid-19th century. There is some uncertainty as to Jonathan's birth date. He is listed as 38 years old on his tombstone, 29 years old in the 1860 census, and 37 years old in the 1870 census.
10 Gayle reports that a seven-month-old child, Frank Newbanks, who died 18 Jan 1885, is buried in the same plot in Edgar cemetery as J. B. [Jonathan] Newbanks. He is probably the child of Jonathan's son, who is listed as a 20-year-old medical student, Wm. T. Newbanks, in Paris, IL, in the 1880 census, living in a boarding house with a lot of other people. We have no information on W. F. (or W. T.) Newbanks' wife or on his whereabouts after the 1880 census.
This page was last updated 6 Feb 2011.