Saturday, April 27, 2013

Matrilineal Monday - Joseph Cook: Saved from Execution by a Slip of a Girl - Gard Line

If Joseph Cook
Were Alive Today
In the late eighteenth century, the Quaker community in Bush River, South Carolina, was home to the Quaker family of Isaac Cook.  The Society of Friends from its inception had stood for non-violence and sought to prevent war by alleviating the problems that caused them.  There were some among the American Quakers, including Betsy Ross, who supported the Americans in their revolution against England, but from what I can tell the Cook family remained true to their pacifist roots.  Isaac Cook’s wife, Charity Wright Cook, was a very well-known woman missionary of the Quaker faith and had an important ministry not only in the United States but in England and France.  It would be hard to imagine such a devoted Quaker countenancing war.
At the time of the Revolution, South Carolina, like most colonies at that time, was politically divided with the Whigs supporting the American cause and the Tories supporting King George.  The Whigs generally considered the Quakers to be Tory sympathizers due to their unwillingness to support the war and even lodged charges of treason against them.  At the same time, the Tories distrusted the Quakers not only because of their neutrality, but probably from some residual hostility from the days in England when Quakers were persona non grata.  It was not an easy time for the Society of Friends.

Joseph Cook, the oldest child of Isaac and Charity Cook, would have been 13 in 1776, when the Revolution began, too young to take up arms at that time. But apparently he remained true to the teachings of his church throughout the duration of the war, even though he knew he could be charged with treason by either side.

What Mary Herbert
Might Have Worn
One day in 1780, when Joseph was 16 or 17 and, no doubt, considered old enough to take part in the fight, he was captured by “an armed band,” of which persuasion is not recorded.  Ordered to join them, young Joseph refused, knowing that his refusal meant death—no matter which side had gotten a hold of him. And, true to Joseph’s expectations, the captain ordered that he be shot.  Preparations were underway when Mary Herbert, probably 15 years old at the time, appeared on the scene.  She approached the armed men and boldly proclaimed that they could not kill Joseph because he belonged to her!  She actually picked Joseph up (presumably he had been bound) and began to move away from his captors. 

What the Captor
  Might Have Worn
Algie I. Newlin, in his biography of Joseph’s mother, tells what followed best: “The captain of the company must have been amused, for he told her that if she could carry him out of range of their muskets and rifles, she could keep him, but if she allowed his feet to touch the ground they would start shooting.  Evidently Mary Herbert mustered her full strength to meet this vital challenge, for she is reputed to have carried Joseph Cook over the hill and out of the sight and range of the armed band. In all probability she saved his life.  Two years later she legalized her claim to Joseph by marrying him.”

The couple were married in Bush River on November 30, 1782, when Joseph was 19 and Mary 17 (both had birthdays approaching soon).  There was just one problem.  Mary was not a Quaker, so Joseph Cook was no longer able to hold membership with Bush River Monthly Meeting.  The two remained in Bush River and raised a family of sixteen children, including Uriah Cook, my direct ancestor, who moved out to Pottawatomie County, Kansas, in the early 1850s. 

Joseph Cook's Headstone
Not all ties to the Quaker church were severed.  Uriah, for example, was brought up in the Quaker faith, and Mary Herbert Cook, when she died on April 24, 1807, was buried in the Quaker cemetery at Bush River.  As the Quaker opposition to slavery grew, many Quakers, Joseph among them, moved to Ohio, where they became involved in the abolitionist movement.  There, at Clear Creek, Ohio, Joseph remarried in 1809 to a woman named Elizabeth Mills.  He passed away November 2, 1841, in Friendswood, Indiana, and is buried at the Fairfield Friends Cemetery.  May they rest as they lived--in peace.


“Betsy Ross.”  Wikipedia. 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.

Newlin, Algie I.  Charity Cook: A Liberated Woman.  Friends United Press, 1981.

“Who Are the Quakers?”  Clinton County Visitor’s Bureau.  30 Aug. 2010.  Web.  27 Apr. 2013.

Wulf, Karin A. “‘Despise the Mean Distinctions [these] Times Have Made’: The Complexity of Patriotism and Quaker Loyalism in One Pennsylvania Family.”  American University.  H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.


Joseph Cook Headstone. member Erin Rivera. 7 Sept 2012.  Web.  27 Apr. 2013.!LzPheR5Qw
Quaker T-Shirt.  For sale on Zazzle. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.
Revolutionary War British 60th Regiment Greatcoat “redcoat” Museum Reproduction. Sold on eBay by jonkypros.  28 Jul 2012.  Web.  27 Apr 2013.
© Eileen Cunningham 2013

Fairford : 1107818 -

Fairford : 1107818 -

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Military Monday - Patric Levi Lanham: An American Hero

Patric Levi Lanham
c. 1939
            On December 7, 1941, Patric Levi Lanham, a 26-year-old naval photographer from Tennessee stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, rendered his government—and his fellow Americans—a great service.   Acting on the spur of the moment at his own initiative, “He grabbed a camera and started shooting film of the ships exploding.  Fragments went through the peak of his hat, but he kept on shooting anyway.”[i] 
A destroyed Vindicator, Pearl Harbor

At the time, there was no direct telephone hook-up between military authorities in Pearl Harbor and decision-makers in Washington, D. C.  Pat’s pictures were sent to Washington by courier to help satisfy President Roosevelt’s need for information about the extent of the damage. 

For this accomplishment, Pat was presented at the captain’s meritorious mast by Captain A. C. Read, commandant of a naval air station, and  “was cited as follows by Rear Admiral P. N. L. Bellinger, commander of Patrol Wing No. 2: ‘For extraordinary initiative and disregard of personal safety in the attack on the U. S. Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor territory of Hawaii by Japanese forces on Dec. 7, 1941, in photographing the attack and damage from naval air station, Pearl Harbor, despite the severe enemy bombing and strafing to which the station was being subjected.’” [ii] 

Born in Tazewell, Tennessee, on August 25, 1915, to Fred and Mossie (Brooks) Lanham, Pat enlisted with the Navy in 1936 at the age of 21.  Apparently he was given training in photography after enlistment, and on July 31, 1939, he was assigned to a naval receiving ship in New York, New York. 

USS Memphis
Naval records show that a year later on August 31, 1940, Pat was aboard the USS Memphis (CL-13), an Omaha-class light cruiser named for the city of Memphis, Tennessee, appropriate for a Tennessee native, most would agree.  The Memphis is known to have left San Francisco for Alaska at that time, where it remained in operations until early 1941.  Pat’s rank at this time was Photographer 3rd Class.

USS Wharton
On August 30, 1941, Pat was assigned to the Wharton, a ship originally built for the Munson Steamship Line but acquired by the United States Navy in November 1939 and used as a troop transport and hospital ship in the Pacific throughout the war.

Three months after the war began on February 28, 1942, Pat appears in the records at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. According to his obituary, Pat was in a combat photo squadron in the Pacific and the Atlantic during most of World War II.  His action shots must have been particularly well done as some of his footage was used in production of the 1944 movie A Wing and a Prayer, starring Don Ameche.  The plot centered around an aircraft carrier on a decoy mission in the Pacific “with orders to avoid combat, thus lulling Japanese alertness before the battle of Midway.”[iii]

Pat continued his navy career beyond World War II, taking flight training and serving as technical advisor and project superintendent for naval training films at the Naval Photographic Center in Annapolis.  As part of his work, he studied movie making at RKO studios in Hollywood, and his training film twice won top awards. 

In 1948, Pat married North Carolina girl, Gladys Elizabeth Allen, and within a few years they had a family of two sons and a daughter.  Sadly, Pat’s life was cut short by cancer on July 2, 1954.  He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on July 6.  Having entered the Navy as a high school graduate, Pat, at the time of his death, held the rank of Lieutenant Commander symbolized by the gold oak leaf insignia (photo of Pat's own insignia at left).

F6F Hellcat Night Fighter
Still today, nearly 60 years after their uncle’s passing, two of Pat’s nephews—Richard Cunningham and his older brother, namesake Patric Cunningham—remember occasions in the early 1950s when they were about ages 5 and 9, respectively.  Playing in rural Tennessee on their family’s 30-acre farm, they remember looking up into the sky and seeing their Uncle Pat flying over, tilting his wings left and right in a friendly USA greeting, as he would be heading in or out of Pensacola in his Grumman F6F Hellcat.  The last of the Hellcats rolled off the assembly lines in November of 1945, but they continued in use after the war as night-fighters, some of which were converted for photo-reconnaissance, making this Hellcat, the F6F-5P, just the ticket for a Tennessee boy with a knack for photography and flying.


“Claiborne Navy Photographer Cited for Pearl Harbor Bravery.” The Knoxville Journal.  15 May 1942.

Crawford, Rod.  “Summary of A Wing and a Prayer.”  Internet Movie Database.  n. d. Web.  21 Apr. 2013. <>

“Former Tazewell Man Dies While Serving with Navy.” Claiborne Progress.  7 Jul 1954.

Goebel, Greg.  “The Grumman F6F Hellcat.” 1 Jan 2003.  Web.  21 Apr. 2013. <>

Image of destroyed Vindicator.  "Attack on Pearl Harbor."  Wikipedia.  8 Apr. 2013.  Web.  21 Apr. 2013. <>
“USS Memphis (SSN-691).”  Wikipedia.  26 Mar. 2013.  Web.  21 Apr. 2013.  <>

“USS Wharton (AP-7).  Wikipedia.  17 Nov. 2012.  Web.  21 Apr. 2013.  <>

[i] “Former Tazewell Man Dies…”
[ii] “Claiborne Navy Photographer Cited…”
[iii] Crawford, Rod.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Maritime Monday - Walter Green: Boat Builder of Wick - Bain Line

Pulteneytown Harbor
By W. J. Renney, 1886
Walter Green (1786-1860) and his family were boat builders, net weavers, and herring fishermen in the herring industry centered at Wick on the eastern coast of Scotland throughout the nineteenth century—and probably even before that in the Canisbay region.  Though herring fishery had been a part of life in Caithness for hundreds of years, it began to boom in the 1790s, spurred on partly because of the distressing Highland Clearances, which forced thousands of Scots from their villages in order to expand government-sponsored, sheep-based agriculture.

Many Highlanders, forced out of their homes in droves, emigrated to America, but there were also many who moved toward the east coast of Scotland where they could begin new lives as fishermen and boat builders.  Though marine industries were well-established in the town of Wick, it was too small to accommodate the massive numbers displaced by the Clearances.  Therefore, Sir William Pulteney, governor of the British Fisheries Society, commissioned Thomas Telford, Britain’s leading civil engineer of the day, to design and establish a fishing town and harbor at the estuary of the Wick River, a place which came to be called Pulteneytown (see image below left).

 The rapid expansion following the establishment of Pultneytown south across the river from Wick is borne out by the fact that from 1808 to 1814, the number of boats using Wick Harbor shot up from 214 to 822.  By 1850, the herring fleet at Wick had 1,000 boats so closely moored together that one could cross from one pier to another dry-shod.[i]  My third great-grandfather, Walter Green, was very much a part of this expanding industry.
Wick Harbor, 1860s

 Walter was actually born in Canisbay, which is also in Caithness but farther to the north where the North Sea joins up with the Pentland Firth.  At the age of 28, Walter appears in Wick where he married Margaret Sutherland on July 1, 1815. 

26 Bank Row (second black door, left)
 Scottish census records are a bit thin on, and I have found no second record of Walter until he appears at age 55 in the 1841 census, where he is identified as a boat builder by trade.  The family resided at 26 Bank Row, where son Robert was still living at the age of 70 in1901.  Four of Walter’s five sons worked with their father as boat builders and continued the family business after Walter’s death in 1860. 

Herring Buss, Dutch Style
 Walter’s business was greatly affected by Scotland’s competition with the Dutch, who were, early on, the leaders in herring fishery. Copying the successful Dutch, the Scots built boats called “herring busses,” which were outfitted with sails to carry the Dutch far into the North Sea (see above).  But Scotland had a geographical advantage in that every summer the herring would migrate into the Orkney area.  Realizing they were better placed than their Dutch rivals to exploit this situation, the Scots decided  they could operate more quickly and efficiently with smaller open boats, a change which kept Walter and sons quite busy as they responded to the growing demand for open boats (see below). Soon, the Scots moved ahead of the Dutch in the herring fishery business.

Open Herring Boat
Wick Harbor
Fish Net Hanging on a Stick
 In addition to the work of boat building, the Green family were engaged in other related trades.  For example, two of Walter’s daughters, Rose and Margaret (but not my direct ancestor, Helen),  were employed as net weavers in Wick.  Net weaving was a centuries-old occupation in Caithness and was largely done by females.  Near the end of the 18th century, as the Age of Industrialization was underway, looms were invented which would relieve the weavers of some of their tedium.  By the late 19th century, more than 2000 people, mostly women, were employed at nearly 600 looms in Scotland.  Surprisingly, Wick, “the metropolis of the herring fishery,”[ii] was one of the last places to industrialize, so Rose and Margaret kept themselves employed on the old looms for longer than most, which could be viewed negatively by those who like to keep up with the times but perhaps more positively by those who enjoyed the peaceful hand work at the water’s edge (see photo above). 

Fish-Curing Building
in Pulteneytown
By 1851, when Walter was 65, he had cut back a little from building boats, leaving that in the hands of his able sons, and taken up another Wick-based trade, that of fish curer, which probably required less physical strength.  Fish curers received the herring from the boats, gutted them, and packed them in barrels.  The best would receive the stamp of the crown on the lid and would bring high prices in the European market. 

Bank Row
Walter Green passed away on February 20, 1863, at the age of 73.  His sons Robert, William, John and Walter, Jr., kept up the boat building business, and Rose and Margaret continued with their net weaving.  Daughter Hellen married Donald Bain, a shoemaker of Wick, and lived with her husband on Bank Row, the same street on which she had been born and raised. 

[i] “Old Pulteney Whiskey.” 
[ii] “Industries of Scotland: Manufacture of Fishing Nets.”

Coull, J. R.  “Herring Fishing in Scotland.” Learning in Scotland Project.  n.d. Web. 13 Apr 2013. <>
_______. “Silver Darlings: The History of Herring Fishing on the East Coast of Scotland.”  n. d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>
“Industries of Scotland: Manufacture of Fishing Nets.” Electric Scotland. n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013.
“Old Pulteney Whiskey.” n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tartan Day - Clan Munro

The Munros are a highland clan with their seat at Foulis Castle, which is in the parish of Kiltearn near Evanton in the shire of Ross & Cromarty.  The castle was given to the Munros in the eleventh century, by the Earl of Ross, who wished to thank the Munros for having defeated Viking invaders.  Still today, one can see the remains of the eleventh-century motte, which is a defensive, man-made mound topped by a wooden palisade.

The name Munro is derived from the Gaelic Mac an Rothaich, which means "man from Ro."

Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney and Lord of Shetland

Robert Stewart (1553-1593) Robert Stewart, Earl of Caithness and Orkney (1553-93),  was a natural son of King James V of Scotland by E...