John Thomas Cook

©2017 Lori Cook-Folger, CG

John & Liza Cook photograph, privately held by Lori Cook-Folger [address for private use,] North Carolina.

John Thomas Cook was likely born 13 February 1893, Washington County, Florida and died 28 May 1962, Chattahoochee, Gadsden County, Florida. He married (1) Sarah Davidson on 11 January 1912, Washington County; (2) Minnie Levator Rivers on 6 December 1917, Washington County; and (3) Liza Jane Pettis on 11 August 1929, Washington County.[1]

John’s Birth

John was the last child born to James C. Cook and Harriet Emily Harris.[2] There does not seem to be any doubt that he was born on 13 February but the year, 1892, on his death certificate, headstone, and Bible are questionable. The first known recording of his birth was the 1900 census where he was listed as seven years old and born February 1893.[3] It is unknown who gave the information to the census enumerator but it was likely a parent. James was quiet old and feeble by this time and if he gave the information it would account for the fact that all the births seem to be off in this census. Since he was born in February, he had already had his birthday in the 1900 and 1910 census enumerations. In 1910 his age of 16 calculates to a birth year of 1894.[4] Again, unknown who gave the information.

John completed a draft registration card on 5 June 1917 where he listed a birth date of 13 February 1894[5] and yet his World War I Service Card lists the year as 1893.[6] These cards were compiled from service records, which were destroyed in the 1973 fire.[7] The year may have been mistranscribed or other records had his birth year as 1893. The 1–2 year discrepancy is not enough to benefit him in any way.

The enumeration date in 1920 was changed to 1 January, so John had not yet had his birthday and his age of 26 calculates to a birth year of 1893.[8] The census date in 1930 was 1 April and his age of 37 calculates to a birth year of 1893 also.[9] Most records for the first 37 years of John’s life reported his birth year as 1893.

The birth year of 1892 first appears on his 1939 social security application and the family Bible.[10] John was in his 40’s by the time he completed his social security application and the Bible inscription says: “Father was born Feb 13th 1892.” The copyright date of the Bible is 1915 so the inscription was made well after his birth and since it was written in by one of his children, it is not first hand knowledge. The likely birth date of John Thomas Cook is 13 February 1893.

John’s Life

John was a young boy when his father, James, died. Times were hard and his feeble father had been unable to work for sometime.[11] Four of the five children were still living at home when he died. John’s mother, Emily, was in desperate need of help and began applying for a widow’s pension for James’s confederate service. It took more than twenty years to be approved.[12] By 1910, John and his brother, Wren, were the only children still living with their mother.[13]

John married Sarah Davidson on 11 January 1912.[14] Florida law required anyone under the age of twenty-one to have consent to marry.[15] John was likely under age, but no consent has been found in the Washington County records. One of the witnesses, A. J. Dykes, was his brother-in-law and may have spoke for him. I heard a family story, but do not recall from whom, that John’s first wife died in childbirth along with the baby and they were buried together. The row of Cook graves has an unmarked grave next to John. A baby may have been born that died, but Sarah did not. A final decree of divorce was granted to John on 14 August 1917.[16] When John completed his World War I draft registration card on 5 June 1917, he said he was married but his only dependent was his mother, indicating that Sarah was no longer living with him.[17] Sarah had deserted John, possibly for Mr. J. L. Chance, whom she married on 17 November 1917.[18]

John married Minnie Rivers on 6 December 1917.[19] Over the next ten years, John and Minnie had six children losing two of them to death. John was “pulling boxes” for the naval stores in the area.[20] The bark was removed from a section of a pine tree and gashed. A box was hung on the tree under the gashes to catch the oozing pinesap. It was used to make rosin and turpentine.[21]

Minnie died 31 January 1929 and is buried in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery at Hinsons Crossroads, Washington County.[22] After Minnie’s death, John would take the children to work with him in a covered wagon, what was called a “bow frame and sheet.” He would not leave his young children with anyone. A friend of his took him out to meet Liza Jane Pettis.[23] They were married on 11 August 1929.[24] Jim Cox, the justice of the peace, married them. Liza had known him all her life and they married at his house. John only weighed 130 pounds when they married.[25] He was living on the north side of Holmes Creek about six or seven miles from where Liza lived in the Wausau area. He was living in the creek swamp about a mile and a half from his brother, Elwood. The area was “logging out.”[26]

Liza was born 4 March 1909 in Wausau, Washington County.[27] John was still working turpentine and they were still living in the creek swamp when their first son was born in 1934. He was about six months old when they bought ten acres across the creek. The land was where Isabel Smith grew up and her and her siblings inherited it. They wanted $50 for it but John and Liza did not have the money. He only made fifty cents a week. They had a bunch of cows and one of them they always had to go get and tie her up. He told Mr. Smith “I ain’t got no money but I got a cow over there I can’t keep.” Mr. Smith said that’s just what we are looking for.[28] The deed shows the price of $50.[29]

The land had been logged for paper wood and John and Liza cleared it up. They used the green poles that had been left to build an eight by ten smokehouse that they lived in. H. John was the first child born there. When John’s nephew, Daniel Cook, got a sawmill they built a house from slabs they got from him. They went to the creek swamp and cut shingles. John was working on the WPA (Works Progress Administration) building roads and bridges. He helped build highway 20 and the Vernon bridge. He was paid $3 per week. They saved and bought another ten acres from Mrs. Smith’s sister. Liza worked the fields, washed, and scrubbed for people to help support the family. For washing and scrubbing all day she would be given a cup of meat grease or a bone from the smoke house. She would put it in the greens she cooked.

Gladys said, here awhile back we was talkin and she said, Well, I tell you somethin, she’s got 9 kids and they come up along with my kids, she said, ‘Liza you know somethin,’ I said what, she said ‘we been here along time,’ I said yea we have. She was born in January and I was born in March, that’s how much difference there are in our age. She said ‘and when our kids were all little, we had to work to give em a little something to eat and if we got a corn sack or a flour sack we made em a dress or a shirt out of it and that was it.’ I said yea.[30]

John and Liza had six children. He was in the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee for four months and 20 days before his death on 28 May 1962. He died of cerebral thrombosis due to arteriosclerosis.[31] Liza lived most of her life in Washington County. She would go to stay with one of her children in Texas for a while then back to Florida. She married George G. “Buster” Rivers, December 1965, Holmes County, Florida,[32] and they divorced in January 1969, Washington County, Florida.[33] She spent the last few years of her life at the Walton Convalescent Center, DeFuniak Springs, Walton County, Florida, where she died on 11 January 2000.[34]

Children of John Thomas Cook and Minnie Rivers:

i. DORTHAS JANE COOK was born 1 December 1918,[35] Washington County, Florida, and died 8 February 1923, Washington County.[36] John was at work and Minnie needed to tend to the cows, so she took Bud with her and left Dorthas Jane to watch Johnny.  It was winter and cold so she put Johnie on a palette in front of the fireplace.  He started to cry and Dorthas Jane started to fan him with a paper to get him to stop crying.  The paper caught fire and she ran outside to put it out.  The wind was blowing and the fire got her.[37] She is buried in the family plot at Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Hinsons Crossroads, Washington County, Florida. The original marker that John Thomas Cook made for his daughter crumbled over the years. In May 2000, H. John Cook replaced the marker with a new one.[38]

ii. JAMES ALBERT “BUD” COOK was born 25 October 1920, Washington County, Florida, and died 5 November 1974.[39] He married Lillie Mae Leavins, 2 January 1943, Bonifay, Holmes County, Florida.[40] She was born in 1926 and died 1963.[41]

iii. JOHNIE J.R. COOK was born 30 August 1922, Washington County, Florida and died 15 August 1993, Panama City, Bay County, Florida.[42] He married Ruth Mallory, daughter of P.R. and Allie Mallory, 29 August 1942, Washington County,[43] they were divorced c. 1946–1947; he next married Sarah Davis, she was born 22 January 1923, Slocomb, Geneva County, Alabama, and died 25 February 1998.[44]

iv. INFANT DAUGHTER COOK, 14 February 1924–March 1924[45]

v. HELEN LEVATOR COOK was born 10 September 1925, Washington County, Florida and died 5 January 2016.[46] She married David Elisha Williams, 11 May 1951, Pascagoula, Jackson County, Mississippi.[47] He was born 26 January 1926 and died 12 May 2004.[48]

vi. MINNIE LEE COOK was born 28 November 1928, Washington County, Florida, and died of pneumonia, 23 April 1941, Washington County.[49] Her original marker that John Thomas Cook made for his daughter crumbled over the years. In May 2000, H. John Cook replaced the marker with a new one.[50]

Children of John Thomas Cook and Liza Jane Pettis:

 vii. LIVING

viii. HUBERT JOHN COOK, born 24 June 1936, Vernon, Washington County, Florida,[51] and died 24 July 2005, Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches County, Texas.[52]

ix. LIVING

x. MARY ADELL COOK was born 29 October 1941, Washington County, Florida,[53] and died 19 July 2010, Alvin, Brazoria County, Texas.[54] She married Morris Ray Earwood, 3 September 1960, Lubbock County, Texas.[55] He was born 26 February 1931, Commerce, Texas, the son of Starling Culman Earwood and Birdie Elizabeth White, and died 27 September 2013, Hallettsville, Lavaca County, Texas.[56] She next married Marvin E. Childs, 12 January 1985, Brazoria County, Texas.[57] They were divorced 23 October 1996, Brazoria County.[58]

xi. LIVING

xii. LIVING

 

[1] The details in this genealogical summary are developed in John’s biography.

[2] 1900 U.S. census, Washington County, Florida, population schedule, Vernon, E.D. 123, p. 160B (stamped), dwelling/family 74, James Cook; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 March 2014); citing NARA microfilm T623, roll 1773.

[3] 1900 U.S. census, Washington Co., Fla., pop. sch., Vernon, E.D. 123, p. 160B (stamped), dwelling/family 74, James Cook.

[4] 1910 U.S. census, Washington County, Florida, population schedule, Vernon, ED 116, p. 14A, dwelling 245, family 246, Emily Cook, image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 16 May 2009); citing NARA microfilm T624, roll 169.

[5] “United States World War I Draft Registration, 1917-1918,” digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 31 December 2014), card for John Thomas Cook, Local Draft Board Precinct 1, Washington County, Florida; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509.

[6] Florida, “World War I Service Cards,” database and image, Florida Memory (http://www.floridamemory.com : accessed 27 June 2010); entry for John Thomas Cook, serial no. 3,280,456.

[7] Report of the Adjutant General of the Army to the Secretary of War, 1921 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1921), 85; digital image, Google Books (http://books.google.com : viewed 10 September 2016).

[8] 1920 U.S. census, Washington County, Florida, population schedule, Millers Ferry, E.D. 164, p. 5B (penned), dwelling 100, family 102, John Cook; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 1 November 2009); citing NARA microfilm T625, roll 232.

[9] 1930 U.S. census, Washington County, Florida, population schedule, Vernon, E.D. 2, p. 7B (penned), dwelling 132, family 139, John Cook; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 1 November 2009); citing NARA microfilm T626, roll 335.

[10] John Thomas Cook, SS no. 267-18-0562, 28 August 1939, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland. John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013.

[11] Soldier’s and Widow’s Pension Claims, October 1899–September 1927, application no. A02824, James C. Cook, Co. A., 33rd Regiment Alabama Infantry; Confederate Pension Files; Records of the State Board of Pensions, RG 137; State Library and Archives of Florida, Jacksonville.

[12] Widows Pension Claims, 30 November 1908, 25 February 1921, and 8 September 1927, application no. A02824, James C. Cook, Co. A., 33rd Regt. Ala. Inf., Confederate Pension Files, Florida.

[13] 1910 U.S. census, Washington Co., Fla., pop. sch., Vernon, ED 116, p. 14A, dwell. 245, fam. 246, Emily Cook.

[14] Washington County, Florida, Marriage Licenses and Returns, Cook-Davidson, 1912; accessed via “Florida Marriages, 1830–1993,” database with images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 6 April 2016); citing FHL microfilm 1,901,667.

[15] The Compiled Laws 1914 of the State of Florida, Annotated (St. Paul : West Publishing Company, 1915), 1364; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : viewed 9 September 2016).

[16] Washington County, Florida, Chancery Orders, Book 1:368–369, Divorce Decree, John & Sarah Cook, 1917; Court Clerk’s Office, Chipley.

[17] “United States World War I Draft Registration, 1917-1918,” digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 31 December 2014), card for John Thomas Cook, Local Draft Board Precinct 1, Washington County, Florida; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509.

[18] Washington County, Florida, Marriage Licenses and Returns, Chance-Cook, 1917; accessed via “Florida Marriages, 1830–1993,” database with images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 April 2016); citing FHL microfilm 1,901,667.

[19] Washington County, Florida, Marriage Licenses and Returns, Cook-Rivers, 1917; County Clerk’s Office, Chipley.

[20] Liza (Pettis) Cook (Bruce, Florida), video recorded interview by Sue (Williams) Looney, 3 July 1993; transcript privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2016.

[21] Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Naval stores industry,” rev. 00:18, 24 February 2016.

[22] Pleasant Grove Cemetery, (Shaky Joe Rd. near Hinsons Crossroads, Washington County, Florida), Minnie L. Cook marker, transcribed and photographed by Lori Cook, July 1996.

[23] Liza (Pettis) Cook (Wausau, Florida), interview by Sue (Williams) Looney, 3 July 1993; video and transcript privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, North Carolina, 2016.

[24] Washington County, Florida, Marriages, Book J:152, Cook-Pettis, 11 August 1929; County Clerk’s Office, Chipley.

[25] Liza (Pettis) Cook, 3 July 1993.

[26] Liza (Pettis) Cook, 3 July 1993.

[27] Elizer Jane Cook, SS no. 264-40-4262, 30 November 1946, Application for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.

[28] Liza (Pettis) Cook, 3 July 1993.

[29] Washington County, Florida, Deeds, 67:11, Isabel & J. W. Smith to John Cook, 1935; Clerk’s Office, Chipley.

[30] Liza (Pettis) Cook, 3 July 1993.

[31] Florida Department of Health, death certificate no. 62-025464 (29 May 1962), John Thomas Cook; Office of Vital Statistics, Tallahassee

[32] Florida, “Florida Marriage Index, 1822–1875 & 1927-2001,” Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 February 2010), entry for Eliza Pettis Cook and George G. Rivers; citing Holmes County, vol. 2374, certificate no. 46875.

[33] Florida, “Florida Divorce Index, 1927-2001,” Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 May 2017), Eliza Jane & George G. Rivers, Sr., 1969; citing Holmes County, certificate 2626.

[34] Walton County, Florida, death certificate, unnumbered, Eliza Jane Cook (2000); Walton County Health Department, DeFuniak Springs.

[35] John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013.

[36] Florida State Board of Health, death certificate no. 2501 (1923), Darthis Cook; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Jacksonville.

[37] Helen (Cook) Williams, daughter of John & Minnie Cook (Jay, Florida), interview by Lori Cook-Folger, 12 July 1998; transcript held by interviewer, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 1998.

[38] Pleasant Grove Cemetery (Hinsons Crossroads, Washington County, Florida), Dorthas Jane Cook marker, photographed by Lori Cook-Folger, 1993 and 2000.

[39] John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013. Pleasant Hill Cemetery (Washington County, Florida), James Albert Cook marker, photographed by Lori Cook-Folger, 18 May 2009.

[40] Holmes County, Florida, Marriage Licenses, v. 770, no. 2621, James A. Cook to Lillie Mae Leavins, 2 January 1943; “Florida Marriages, 1830–1993.” digital image, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 5 January 2016), image 2656 of 5052, citing FHL microfilm 2,115,765.

[41] Florida, “Florida Death Index, 1877–1998,” database, Ancestry, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 May 2017), entry for Lillie Mae Cook, 1963, Walton County.

[42] John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013. “Johnie Cook,” Panama City (Florida) News Herald, 16 August 1993, p. 5, col. 1; digital images, NewspaperArchive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 30 December 2015).

[43] Washington County, Florida, Marriages, M;42, Cook to Mallory, 1942, digital image, via “Florida Marriages, 1830–1993,” FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 18 March 2017).

[44] Find A Grave, database and images, (http://www.findagrave.com: accessed 26 May 2010, memorial, 52,691,571, Sarah D. Cook (1923–1998), photographed by “piazzaboy”; citing Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery, Panama City, Bay County, Florida.

[45] John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013.

[46] John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013. “Helen Williams” Jay Funeral Home (Jay, Florida), (http://www.jayfh.com : accessed 6 January 2016), 5 January 2016.

[47] Original marriage record, David E. Williams to Helen L. Cook, Jackson County, Mississippi, license number not listed (1951); privately held by her son, [Address for Private Use].

[48] Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 19 March 2017), memorial no. 160,731,793, David E. Williams (1926–2004), photographed by “Claire”; citing Cora Baptist Church Cemetery, Jay, Santa Rosa County, Florida.

[49] John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births” and “Deaths”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013.

[50] Pleasant Grove Cemetery (Hinsons Crossroads, Washington County, Florida), Dorthas Jane Cook marker, photographed by Lori Cook-Folger, 1993 and 2000.

[51] John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013. Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, amended birth certificate no. 12960 (1936, 1981), Hubert John Cook; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Jacksonville.

[52] Texas Department of State Health Services, death certificate no state file no., local registrar file no. 01-393 (2005), Hubert John Cook; Vital Statistics, Austin.

[53] John Thomas Cook Family Bible Records, 1911-1953, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1915), “Births”; privately held by Lori Cook-Folger, [address for private use,] North Carolina, 2013.

[54] “Mary Adell Earwood Childs,” The Alvin (Texas) Sun, 21 July 2010, web edition, Alvin Sun Advertiser (http://www.alvinsun.net : accessed 20 March 2017).

[55] “Official Records, Marriage Licenses,” Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 4 September 1960, p. C15, col. 6; NewspaperArchives (http://www.newspaperarchives.com : accessed 20 January 2010).

[56] Texas Department of State Health Services, death certificate no. 142-13-133694 (2013), Morris Ray Earwood; Vital Statistics, Austin.

[57] “Texas, Marriage Index, 1814–1909 and 1966–2011,” index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017), entry for Mary A. Cook and Marvin E. Childs, 1985, Brazoria County; citing Texas Department of State Health Service.

[58] “Texas, Divorce Index, 1968–2011,” index, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 March 2017), entry for Marvin E. & Mary A. Childs, 1996, Brazoria County; citing Texas Department of State Health Services.

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