John Esten Cooke

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After the War
John Esten Cooke

1867 Sept 18 Marriage of John Esten Cooke and Mary Francis Page of Clarke County Virginia.
They had three children -

Susan Randolph b. July 11 1868 d. 18 Jan 1960 m. Rev Charles Henry Lee
Edmund Pendleton b. May 18 1870 d. 13 April 1905 m.?
Robert Powell Page b. Oct 12 1874 d. 27 Oct 1952 m. Nell Page Jones (cousin)

John Esten Cooke, who was apparently willing to forgive and forget, visited Philip and Rachel a year after the war, and wrote: "Saw Gen. Cooke and was received with the warmest affection by him and Aunt Rachel as I expected. I always felt as if I had much more against him than he against me."

1868 July 11 Birth of Susan Randolph Cooke at "Saratoga" in Clarke Va. She became a noted author and educator and lived in Clarke Co. Va.


1868 Sept John Esten Cooke and his family moved to "The Briars" in Clarke County Virginia, where he spent his time writing and farming part time on his estate. In a newspaper article written on Oct 27,1936 his nephew wrote: "I have said that my uncle went daily to his writing, which is hardly true for there were sometimes weeks when he would write almost nothing. At such times he would spend hours in his garden of which he was justly proud, or he would wander across the fields to the home of some friend where ideas were exchanged about plants and seeds." ... "In the Spring of 1878 my uncle visited New York and there saw for the first time the wonderful invention of the phonograph which thrilled him by its mystery. He recorded his thoughts in a little story called "Prof. Pressensee," published by Harper Brothers in 1878, Half-Hour Series. In this we read much of the sorrow of his own life put into the words of Professor Pressensee who loved his wife but has recorded her voice and words by means of the phonograph. It is a weird tale and full of mysterious longings. My uncle's one regret was not being able to hear again his own wife's beautiful voice in song brought back to him through this great invention."

1870 May 18 Birth of Edmund Pendleton Cooke

1874 Oct 12 Birth of Robert Powell Page Cooke

1878 Jan 15 Death of Mary Francis Page at "The Briars" Clarke Va.

1886 Sept 27 Death of John Esten Cooke from typhoid fever. His nephew wrote" No one realized that he was ill but four days before his death he fainted in his chair which caused my mother to send for his physician. But it was not until the day before his death that he went to his bed. The shock was great when he breathed his last on September 27,1886." He is buried along with other members of his family in the Old Chapel Cemetery in Millwood, Clarke County, Virginia.

In his later years he gave his view of other authors surpassing him: "...Besides, the fires of ambition are burned out of me, and I am serenely happy. My wheat fields are green as I look out from the porch of the Briars, the corn rustles in the wind, and the great trees give me shade upon the lawn."

John Esten Cooke was a novelist, playwright, and historian who wrote more than thirty volumes of novels, biographies and histories, though most of his work has been forgotten today. His biographer, John O. Beaty wrote that "He was a chivalric cavalier who idealized the South and was unreservedly devoted to Virginia." Burke Davis wrote: "John Esten Cooke, was one of the most celebrated American novelists, 'The Sir Walter Scott of the Southern Border', author of successful books, a poet, and contributor to The Southern Literary Messenger." He was known as a social historian of colonial Virginia and many of his books were based on actual experiences he had had during the Civil War.

(Wikipedia) The "John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction" is presented annually to the author of the best historical novel dealing with the South.

c. 1893 20 Sept Marriage of Susan Randolph Cooke to Charles Henry Lee in Clarke Va.

1929 Dr. Powell Page Cooke received the Walter Reed Medal for his contribution to the study carried out in Cuba in 1901 and 1902 which led to the discovery of Yellow Fever coming from mosquitoes and not from infected clothing and bedding. He would have been close to 12 years old when his father died of Typhoid fever. Would this event as such an impressionable age have been the impetus that made him go into medicine and to help with the research on Yellow Fever, another deadly disease? As well his father's tales of the army (I assume) may have been one of the reasons he joined the army.

A 1950's article on The Scrapbook of John Esten Cooke by Chester B. Goolrick, Jr mentions a scrapbook containing sketches, and the beginning of an autograph collection in the possession of John Esten Cooke's son, Dr. Robert Page Cooke of Lexington Virginia. Dr. Cooke insisted that their father pronounced his middle name with a long "E," as in "east". (Virginia Historical Magazine 1950's) The scrapbook which was kept from 1845 - 1886. is now in the University of Virginia Library.

1952 Oct 27 Death of Dr. Robert Powell Page Cooke at Lexington Albemare. Buried at Old Chapel, Clarke Virginia.

1960 Jan 18 Death of Mary Francis Page in Richmond. She was buried at Old Chapel, Clarke Virginia.


Penelope Barrott
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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:47 )