Uncle Dave's book

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Going Beyond the Usual Records: Calvin Gray Cookson and Mary Ann Dow Wedding

     The first point of the Genealogical Proof Standard is that  "reasonably exhaustive research has been conducted." When I am finally able to say that I am done with research on the Cookson family I feel sure that no one will fault me on this point! My most recent search was in a rather unusual source. I found it on the website of the Cary Library of Houlton, Maine. Houlton is the county seat of Aroostook County, Maine and it is very close to Linneus, Maine where our Cooksons were located from about 1835 to 1860. I had viewed this website a few years ago and found very little on our family. But I decided to revisit it.

      One thing that was now on the website was the "Shepard Cary Accounting Ledger from 1838-1843". Shepard Cary had a general store in Houlton just down the hill from the Hancock Barracks where the Aroostook War soldiers were stationed. Calvin Gray Cookson joined the Army to fight in the Aroostook War at Houlton in April 1839. So the dates seemed relevant. Daniel Cookson, David Ellenwood Corless and John Dow are all in the 1840 Census as living in or near Linneus as well. So I thought that some of our family might be listed in the ledger. I read it page by page, 944 pages. Easier than that sounds as the name of the customer is at the top of each page. And I found them all. There was David Ellenwood Corliss in 1839 buying tea, boots, butter and peanuts and Daniel Cookson in 1839 buying 6 bushels of buckwheat, 2 quarts of Gin, fish, sugar, tobacco, a pot and a jack knife. Of more interest was "Serg(eant) Cookson" ,who I believe is Calvin, buying eggs, bread, tobacco and a cigar in 1841 and sugar and tea in 1842.

     The most interesting entry, though, is for John Dow. In Dec 1838 he bought two pairs of ladies shoes and a third in Jan 1839 (he had a wife, a daughter in her early 20's and two teen age daughters in 1838/9). But on March 6, 1839, he bought "3 yd bobnett lace". In May he bought 8 yd cotton and 1 skein of silk. So my thought is, could he have bought the lace for his daughter, Mary Ann's, wedding dress for her marriage to Calvin Gray Cookson? If Calvin entered the Army on 15 April 1839 might they have gotten married in March or earlier in April? My parents married in Jan 1943 because my father had joined the Army and was about to leave for Basic Training. I think this is a common experience. I have not yet found any record of their marriage but this may be slim evidence to pinpoint it.

     Just speculation, I know, but it also got me to wondering what brides in 1839 wore to their wedding. Amazingly enough I found quite a few pictures of wedding dresses from the period. I thought I'd share some of them which at least suggest that lace was in use on wedding dresses in 1839!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Elusive Ancestor Update: Daniel Noyes Cookson

     In my pursuit of Daniel Noyes Cookson I have made some discoveries recently so I thought I would report on them here.

     On Ancestry,  I found Margaret Cookson Freeman's will. She was the mother of Margaret Freeman who married John Cookson in 1767. This marriage is recorded in the Boston Town records. It has been supposed that this John and Margaret are the parents of Daniel Noyes Cookson. In New England Families Genealogical and Memorial by William Richard Cutter the statement is made that Daniel is either the child of John Cookson, son of John Cookson, who married Mary Baker or John Cookson, son of Obadiah Cookson, who married Margaret Freeman. For whatever reason I had always thought it was most likely the second John Cookson. And every tree on Ancestry that lists parents for him shows it this way. (But perhaps they copied mine!)

     Margaret Cookson Freeman died in 1776, her daughter, Margaret Freeman Cookson (stay with me here!) had died before her in 1772. She leaves her son-in-law, John Cookson,  "the Income use and Improvement" of her farm in Watertown and all the farm equipment and stock but not her wearing apparel or her gold and silver and only half of the furniture. She also leaves him farmland in Waltham. But after John's death she says that this is all to go to her brother, John Cookson (the same John Cookson mentioned by Cutter as a possible father for Daniel.) She leaves the rest of her estate to her brother, John, a nephew, and a niece, a woman in Boston and a donation to the Church. She specifically states that everything left to John is to him and his heirs. Reading this it doesn't sound like she has any grandchildren as she leaves her son-in-law the farm only for his life but in the case of her brother, she specifically mentions his heirs.The other possibility is that any grandchild had so alienated her that she didn't even acknowledge their existence in her will.  My conclusion is that John and Margaret had no children.

     John Cookson, son of John Cookson, is recorded as living in Pearsontown (later Standish), Cumberland County in what is now Maine. This increases the likelihood that he is Daniel's father. In the data I have of him only three children are listed. Given the size of families at the time this is likely incomplete. Also I found mention of a second marriage so there may be children from that marriage as well. This will need to be researched.

     Meanwhile, I decided to try to find the original marriage record for Daniel Noyes and Lucy Gifford. I had found this marriage in an index with the Maine Historical Society and more recently at Family Search. It is dated 1801 and was at Whitefield, Maine. It is intriguing because our Daniel did marry a Lucy Gifford. This record omits his last name. Also the date seems too early as their first (known) child was born in 1811. I thought perhaps the transcriber had switched the numbers on the date and not seen the last name due to an ink blot or some such. I found that the town records for Whitefield could be viewed on Family Search. I did that and found the marriage record. Unfortunately it is quite clearly written, no "Cookson" in sight and the date is in line with the other dates around it. It did give me the place they were living which is "Sheepscot Great Pond", a place that is now Palermo, Maine. This is on the Eastern edge of Waldo County and near Unity, Belmont and the other towns where some connection has been found to Daniel and family. There are two Daniel Noyeses who lived in the area in the early 1800s but neither had a wife named Lucy.

     Family Search doesn't have early records for Palermo but there is a book written about the town that is online in its entirety at Archives.com. (A History of the Early Settlement of Palermo, Maine  by Allen Goodwin.) I read it and while he lists many of the early settlers no one by the name of Cookson, Noyes or Gifford is included.  At one point (page 18) he does say, "The first settlers of this Great Pond settlement took up their lands without purchase or leave of the proprietors and held the same by possession." This is very similar to Belmont. I am getting the idea that Daniel had a pattern of going to a wilderness area and settling without purchasing land and leaving when it became more organized and someone required payment. Another interesting point in the book on the same page is that Robert H. Gardiner was a large owner of land there and one of the proprietors. Daniel named his second son Gardiner. Anyway, this could account for the difficulty I am having in finding any deeds for Daniel.

     A couple of other interesting tidbits have come up. On Genealogy Bank I found a mention in a newspaper of Gardiner Cookson as a bankrupt living in Linneus.  This is the first and only mention I've found of Gardiner being in Linneus. It is from 1842 which is the time the four children all seem to have been in Linneus. On Family Search I found that I could search the Court records for Aroostook County. In the Index I found Daniel Cookson(referring to the son, I believe) as a Plaintiff with Lucy Corliss TR as the defendant.  I googled "TR" as a court term and found it means trust. So I believe he was suing her trust or probate attorney.  Unfortunately when I looked it up it said that neither the plaintiff or the defendant had shown up! So I guess they settled it out of court. It should mean that there are probate papers somewhere but I haven't found them yet. It also tells us that she died before September 1858,

     Thus we see quite a bit of time and effort has produced only small results but we do have more clues than we did. I still need to read the Linneus Town papers which I have to order from Salt Lake City. You never know what I may find there or what may show up somewhere else entirely!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Valentine's Day Family Love Stories #8: Giovanni and Catterina

   (I wrote seven Valentine's day Love Stories last year and thought I'd add some new ones this year because family history is really just a huge collection of love stories.)

     On 26 Aug 1846, Giovanni Tinetti, age 21, married Domenica Catherina Zanotti-Cussio, age 18. They were married in the town of San Giovanni Canavese where he was living at the time. Giovanni and Domenica had seven children, two of whom were stillborn. Giovanni prospered and they moved to a big house in Valia, just outside of Torre Canavese, not far from San Giovanni. Unfortunately, Domenica died on 3 Apr 1863, seventeen years after the marriage. This left Giovanni with five children ages 17 to 4. He turned to his sister-in-law, Catterina Zanotti-Cussio, for help.

     Catterina was thirty-three at this time. She came and took care of the children for Giovanni. In a short while he became concerned about her reputation, living in his house and not being married. So he offered to marry her, in name only, to protect her reputation. The family story goes that she replied that she would marry him but only as his wife in full and in fact. He was very happy with her reply and they were married. Together they had six children.

     It's a sweet story but, of course, leaves some questions. She was unmarried at 33, had she secretly been in love with him for the entire time he and her sister were married? An oddity is that the only marriage record I could find for them is 14 Aug 1878, after all their children were born. I looked in Torre Canavese and Cuceglio (her parish) but it occurs that I didn't look in San Giovanni where Giovanni and Domenica were married. For a man who was so concerned about her reputation to wait 15 years to marry her seems unlikely. I don't know but it is an Italian love story nevertheless, si?

     As a note, I have no pictures of her but I have pictures of two of her daughters at a fairly young age and one can assume that they resemble her.
Angelina, 18, and Rosa, 21, Tinetti ca 1889
Giovanni Tinetti 1904
Tinetti house in Valia (taken 2014)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Moonshiner in the Family! Wyatt Nolan Hunt

    With Valentine's Day coming up I was thinking about my grandmother's sister, Mabel Jane Hudson. I have recently written about my grandmother, Bessie Hudson Peterson, and her great love and long marriage to my grandfather, Walter Peterson. Her sisters were not as lucky in love. Her oldest sister, Edna, fell in love with a young man who enlisted in World War I and never returned. Her third sister, Alma Agnes Hudson, married rather late in life to Edward Quinn. She was 36 when they married. They had one daughter, Evelyn, and were happy but, unfortunately, he died in 1942 at the age of 47. Alma never remarried. Mabel's story was a little different than her sisters.

     Mabel also married late in life, she married in August 1929, age 37. The man she married, Wyatt Nolan Hunt, had been divorced for two years and had a ten year old son. They were married in Benton, Arkansas, although Wyatt was also from the Fort Worth, Texas area. Mabel and Wyatt were divorced in 1932. My father said it had to do with his drinking and that's all I know about it. I did find her living alone in the 1930 Census, although listed as married. I still haven't found him in that Census. Neither of them ever re-married until his death in 1961. Then she married his friend, a man with the last name of Owen. My father didn't know his first name. He either died rather soon after they married or they were divorced. To me this suggests that she loved Wyatt all her life and married his friend out of their mutual loss. We never talked about either husband. I do recall that she came to Tacoma, Washington,
Mabel in Tacoma about 1961
Moonshine Still 1930
 to stay with her sister for a few months around 1961 or 62. My grandparents just said that she had had a loss or some such vague explanation. Probably was after Wyatt died.

   Today, while I was thinking about this I decided to do some research to see if I could find out more about either husband. Using Genealogy Bank I looked for any newspaper articles about Wyatt Nolan Hunt. I only found one. It was surprising! The Dallas Morning News on Thursday, 15 Feb 1934, reported on some recent court cases. One line of this article reports that Wyatt "Nowlin" Hunt and two other men pleaded guilty to "revenue charges" involving "whiskey stills or distilled spirits." I think that means that he was making and/or selling moonshine! It fits with what my father said was the cause of divorce-his drinking. I tried to find some data on moonshining activity in Tarrant County or Dallas at that time. I found that in his book, Recollections of Farm Life(1965), Robert L. Hunt, Sr., recalled that "There was always some making of moonshine liquor in the area of Northeast Texas...[by 1919]The moonshiners had become common in the area. In fact so much moonshine was hauled out of the area that some places had quite a reputation for liquor making. Farms were left idle in some places and farmers turned to making liquor as a more profitable occupation." So the next time you watch The Dukes of Hazard reruns, think of Wyatt.

Mabel about 17
Wyatt Nolan Hunt tombstone

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Walter and Bessie Peterson, a Photo Essay

     Having just written about my grandparents, Walter Leonard Peterson and Elizabeth "Bessie" Hudson Peterson, I notice that I have many photos of them together through the years. So I thought it would be nice to do a photo essay showing them as they grew old together.

     This is the only photo I have of Bessie before she met Walter, she is around 14 here I think.
     And here is Walter's High School Graduation photo:
Walter and Bessie's wedding photo 17 Aug 1917.
Walter and Bessie and their first son, Wally, in 1918.
Walter, Bessie and family: Wally, Betty and Jack, 1924
Walter, Bessie, Wally, Betty, Jack and Bessie's sisters ca 1927

Walter and Bessie, 1928
Walter, Betty, Bessie and Jack, ca 1930
Wally, Betty, Walter, Bessie and Jack ca 1936

Bessie and Walter ca 1935
Walter and Bessie ca 1939
Walter and Bessie ca 1940
Walter Bessie and Grace about 1940

Walter and Bessie also around 1940
Walter and Bessie with Edith and Luke Kells about 1942

Walter and Bessie 1943
Walter, Bessie and Walter's brother and sisters, Aug 1945

Walter and Bessie 1947
Walter, Bessie, Wally, Betty and Jack, June 1947
Wally, Jill, Rick, Bessie and Walter, 1948
Bessie and Walter at Mt. Rushmore, ca 1950

Walter, Bessie and Jack ca 1956
Walter and Bessie 1959
Walter and Bessie 1964
Walter, Bessie, Ruby and John ca 1965
Walter and Bessie, Aug 1966
Walter, Bessie, Margaret, Wendy and Rhonda June 1967
Walter, Bessie, Jill, Rick, Margaret and Rhonda 1966
Walter and Bessie, 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1967
Walter and Bessie, July 1968
Walter and Bessie, ca 1969
Walter and Bessie, 1970
Walter, Bessie and Alma ca 1970
Walter, Bessie, Alma and Grace ca 1970

Walter and Bessie, 1971
Walter, Bessie, Betty, Jack and Rhonda 1971
Walter and Bessie 1974
Walter and Bessie, 57th Wedding Anniversary, 1974
Walter and Bessie, Athens, 1974
Walter, Bessie and Wally 1974

Walter and Bessie, 1975
Walter, Bessie, Grace, Alma, Michael, and Jill Apr 1976
Walter and Bessie, 60th Anniversary, Aug 1977
Walter and Bessie, Aug 1977
Walter, Bessie and Jack, 1979
Walter and Bessie, 1979

To Walter and Bessie for all the love that was and is and will ever be!