Sunday, May 13, 2012

A High School Graduate Takes a Gap Year (Or So)

Shortly after August Cook finished serving in the Michigan State Legislature, his oldest child, Mathew F. Cook, graduated from high school. With a father who was a well-respected lawyer in his hometown, and with an uncle who was equally esteemed, Matt had a bright future to anticipate.

However, as sometimes happens, the young man wished first to change up his routine before facing the rigors of a college education. He wanted to take a year to travel. That way, as one report put it, “he thought he would recuperate his strength.”

By 1903, young Matt was near Seattle, Washington. Perhaps he originally came out that way to visit family. His father’s sister, Matilda, had married Nicholas King in Michigan who, though remaining in the locale through the 1880 census, before the 1900 census had moved the family to Seattle. There Matt’s uncle had set up shop as a shoemaker at 84 W. Madison, and settled at home in what was then the city of Ballard only six miles to the north.

I have no idea how long Matt intended to stay in the Seattle area. Perhaps, in order to extend his visit—or possibly owing to an overall change in plans—he sought work as a laborer, for that is how he is identified in a record there in King County, Washington. Unfortunately, it is a death record, for on June 7, 1903, in the same county in which his aunt and uncle lived, though nearly thirty miles from his uncle’s place of business, Mathew F. Cook is identified as having drowned somewhere near Kent, Washington, the town listed as his residence.

How devastating that news must have been to his father, already having been bereaved of the boy’s mother twenty years prior. Yet, search as best I could, I found no mention of the tragedy, at least through online resources, either in Seattle newspapers or in any reports back home in Michigan.

With this loss, the only remaining descendant of August Cook’s deceased first wife, Catherine Flannigan, was their daughter, also called Catherine—or, as we first met her in the mention of her uncle’s will, Katie Cook.

Photograph: View from the Green River Trail, Kent, Washington; photographer Joe Mabel; permission granted to copy under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2; under the  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license via Wikipedia.  


  1. Happy Mothers Day!

    I recaall mention of his.drowning in the source that discussed the two Catherines. It is always tragic when a child dies so young and without filfiling their potential.

  2. Ah, here it is... about 2/3ds of the way down.

  3. Happy Mother's Day! Leave it to Iggy to find something! :)


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