Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 11 Oct 2015.
My sister-in-law called me last week and wanted to know if she was Scotch-Irish. I laughed and told her she was of Scottish and Irish heritage. I then explained that the term Scotch-Irish is derogatory and only used in the U.S.
She was happy to find out that she was indeed Scottish as a new genealogy society is being established in the city where she lives and she wants to join with her friends. The first organizational meeting is today so she doesn’t have a membership application to complete or much information on the requirements.
I looked at a similar organization and, knowing that I’m going to be extremely busy with my day job and trying to get my genealogy certification portfolio put together, I told her I’d pull the records for her as an early Christmas present.
Oh what fun it was to review my older research notes on one of my favorite couples on my husband’s side! I really wish I could have met these folks as they are just endearing to me with their spunk, love and acceptance of each other’s differences.
John Cooke was born in Whees, Stirlingshire Scotland about 1827. I have him with his family in the 1841 and 1851 census in Scotland. I’ve never been able to locate an emigration record but he must have come to New York City shortly after 1851 as he married Mary “Mollie” O’Brien in 1854 in Newark, New Jersey. Mary was born in 1835 in Limerick, Ireland and thanks to the Irish records now available online, I have her Roman Catholic Baptism record. Of course, it is on the right side towards the bottom of the page that is most difficult to read! Mollie and her step-sister, Ellen, emigrated in February 1853 as domestic servants with another girl from her parish. This was during the potato famine and there is no records of land ownership by Mollie’s parents so times must have been tough. Coming to a new country at 18 years of age with nothing takes spunk!
Newark, New Jersey, being just across the river from New York City, was the perfect place to elope and take the train to Chicago. I don’t know for fact that Mollie and John eloped but it’s awfully odd that there were no traditional wedding banns posted, which was a common Roman Catholic tradition. Also strange is that step-sis Ellen wasn’t the witness. It appears that two unrelated parishioners did that job. The birth information that was given at the church doesn’t quite match reality, either. With no relatives around to question, John shaved off a few years, making him the same age as Mollie.
The couple remained together until John’s death in 1889. Mollie lived until 1903 and never remarried. I believe they truly loved one another and their respect goes way beyond what a lot of folks can’t do even today. The couple made an arrangement prior to their marriage – all female children would be raised Roman Catholic and all male children would be raised Protestant. I’m not sure how Mollie got the Roman Catholic Church to agree to this since the rule was if you were married in the church you were agreeing to raise ALL of your children in the faith. I also have to give John credit for marrying Mollie in her church and giving 50-50 in regards to the children. I’m really impressed this agreement was made 160 years ago and both parties kept their word. With integrity, they didn’t need a written pre-nuptial
The couple had 3 children – 2 Protestant boys and 1 Catholic girl. I’ve been in contact with the girls descendants and they are all Catholic to this day. All of the boys descendants I’ve been in contact with continue to be Protestant except for one and that was due to marrying a Catholic girl (me).
Interestingly, when John died he was buried in the Protestant cemetery, Calvary, in Cook County, Illinois. Mary’s death certificate noted that she was going to be interred in Calvary, too, but she wasn’t. She was buried in Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Cemetery instead. After 15 years of being apart the children decided the couple needed to be together so John was re-interred next to Mollie. Unfortunately, there was no stone. I assume because the cost of re-interment was considerable at the time. I wish I could afford to put a stone there cause this is a true love story that needs to be long remembered.