Faces from the Past #8: The St. Patrick's Day Edition


Cooke ancestor(s) circa 1910...maybe?

Allow me a bit of a self-indulgence here, well moreso than usual. First off, this isn't exactly a colour photo like others in the series (well, it's sepia) but it's been hanging on my wall for as long as I can remember, and I figured it would fit the bill. I first found the photo, taken in Boulder, Colorado, in a trunk in my parents' basement when I was a teen, and found it immediately fascinating. I was told that members of the Cooke family had drifted west after coming to the U.S. from Ireland in the 1820s to work on the Erie Canal in upstate New York. Some wound up in Ontario, and later Quebec, but others went looking for gold or just tried to eke out a living on the new frontier. My grandfather himself headed west in his late teens, reportedly winding up in San Francisco during the Great Earthquake and doing some mining work before heading to Chicago to become an osteopath in the years just before World War I.

So back to this photo. I honestly don't know which of these men are Cookes, but I have been told I am related to some of them (the clean shaven man in the rear on the right does bear a bit of a family resemblance), while the guy in the front left is the spitting image of Tom Waits, which is probably one of the key reasons why I love this photo so much. I wonder about these men and what their histories were. Did they wind up in the fields of France a few years later? Did they strike it rich in the mountains? Did they kill anyone with those firearms? I have no idea, and no clues, but it's a fascinating window nonetheless.

3 comments:

Rob said...

Yeah, I know those feelings when I look at the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang group shot from Ft. Worth - Bill Carver, the biggest black sheep in the family, is in the back row. Butch, who actually never killed anybody personally, was a genius at getaways, and as long as Bill ran with him he did OK. My grandma lived on a farm in Colorado, and stories about the dark side relatives who occaisionally strayed were always compared to Bill, a genyouwine badman. My gram, incidently, watched Buffalo Bill's funeral procession pass her farm on his way to his final rest on Lookout Mountain. Around that time, she sold one of her puppies to Mary Pickford, who was staying nearby and came most every day for fresh eggs and milk, and fell in love one of the wee doggies. Pickford was ever after her favorite star, always the most beautiful.

BCNU

swac said...

Great stories Rob! Thanks for sharing. I wonder if there are any pictures out there of Mary and her pup...considering she was one of the most photographed people of the time, I find it hard to believe there aren't.

The more I look at this photo, especially blowing it up on my computer monitor and sharpening the image and contrast, I realize that it's the bearded man in the very middle who is likely the Cooke. Same eyes, same nose and, at the moment, same beard. Perhaps my great grandfather? Not really sure.

Rob said...

I have looked online and in a few books over the years, but alas, no joy there. You might try googling details of that pic, or your ancestor's name, if you haven't already. My cousin, along with my wife, the unofficial historian of the family, found a picture online that helped her identify another foto that she already had, but wasn't sure where it was taken. Serendipity.

BCNU