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 -

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