Miss Cooke Celebrates

Newspaper databases add new papers to their files all the time, so even though I’ve searched my direct line ancestors before, I continue to check now and then to see if new items are available. This weekend I hit pay dirt, finding two stories about my grandmother Marion Stokes Cooke (1902-1960) in The Chat, a newly added Brooklyn, NY paper on Newspapers.com.

First was “Miss Cook Celebrates Her Birthday Anniversary” from 1923. It tells me their address, that both parents were living, describes the decorations, and gives a guest list with names I recognize as including cousins. By this date, my grandmother had already graduated from Pratt Institute with a certificate in Trade Dressmaking. Some of the other guests were possibly classmates.

Marion Cooke Celebrates Her 21st Birthday -
“Miss Cook Celebrates Her Birthday Anniversary,” The Chat (Brooklyn, New York), Saturday, 12 May 1923, p.43, col. 3 ; digital image, Newspapers.com, accessed 31 Aug 2019.

The second story from 1927 describes the wedding of my grandparents as “one of the prettiest weddings of the week.” It includes her address, that only her mother was listed as a parent, that only my grandfather’s mother was listed as a parent, describes her dress (which she made), marriage location, and lists members of the wedding party – which included cousins of not only the bride but also the groom.

Flanders-Cooke Wedding announcement in The Chat (Brooklyn, NY) -
Weddings: Flanders-Cooke,” The Chat (Brooklyn, New York), Saturday, 19 March 1927, p.50 col. 5; digital image, Newspapers.com, accessed 31 Aug 2019

Jennie Morrison Cooke

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Jane Morrison Cooke, Leighton & Marion Cooke, c1906

My mother’s maternal grandmother was Jane (Jennie) Morrison Cooke, born on 2 October 1871 in Larksville, Luzerne County, Pennsyvania. She was the fourth of five children born to Scots immigrants Charles Morrison and Margaret Brookmire. Her parents were founding members of Snowden Memorial Presbyterian Church in Larksville and Jane was baptized there on 28 October 1872.

The 1870’s were difficult years, including the deaths of two of Jane’s four siblings. Her father Charles, an injured Union veteran of the Civil War, was a coal miner who survived a mining accident and suffered probable brain damage. He was admitted to the Danville State Hospital for the Insane in November 1874, leaving his wife Margaret and three small children to fend for themselves. He owned no property, so there was nothing to inherit. It is possible that Margaret worked as a nurse, an occupation she was known to perform in later years.

In 1880 Jane’s mother Margaret married again in Wilkes Barre, PA, telling her children that their father was dead, although he still a patient in Danville Hospital.  Jane did not know of the deception for many years. By spring 1890, the family had moved from Pennsylvania up to New York City, where her step-father Andrew Seger grew up. He worked as a boot maker but was disabled due to injuries received in the Civil War. Jane’s sister Isabella married in Brooklyn in 1890 and her brother John in 1895.  Their father Charles died in the hospital in November of that year.

Jane Morrison married Robert Thomas Cooke on 9 August 1899 at South Third Street Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn. It’s possible that they met through their parents: Jane’s step-father Andrew Seger and Robert’s father William Cooke were both shoemakers in Brooklyn. Through their married life, Jennie and Robert lived in Brooklyn and Queens, moving back and forth between boroughs. They had two children, daughter Marion Stokes Cooke (my grandmother) born in May 1902 and son Leighton Brookmire Cooke, named for his grandmothers Eliza Leighton and Margaret Brookmire, born in March 1904.

IMG_20180719_152229By 1920, Rob and Jennie’s home included their children and her mother and step-father, who were in their 80’s. Rob died on 2 September 1925 in Brooklyn, and Jennie moved across the Hudson River to 900 Lake Street in Newark, New Jersey, five houses down the street from her daughter Marion. She owned the home, valued at $13,000. Her mother lived with her and in 1930, so did three boarders. When her mother died in 1939 at age 93, Jennie moved to Madison, New Jersey, and lived with her son Leighton and his family. She died on 25 March 1946 in the Home for Aged Women in Newark.

Robert and Jennie enjoyed each other, their children, and their extended families, who also lived in the New York area. They were not wealthy but their lives were comfortable. He worked as a “paper dealer” or salesman (details not known) and she kept the house and raised the children. As a family, they attended South Third Street Presbyterian Church. Jennie was an expert needlewoman who made beautiful cutwork pieces that are still being used today. She passed that love and skill on to her daughter Marion, who graduated from Pratt Institute with a degree in trade dressmaking.

4-Generations