Friday, January 25, 2013

William Cook 1849-1908, Saskatchewan Pioneer

William Cook about 1906

I blogged early on about William’s wife, Emma Green Cook, my great great grandmother, and one of my favourite ancestors, but I had yet to give William Cook his own blogpost. This was partly because I felt that I needed a couple of more records about him. I was somewhat doubtful about what I had for his mother’s maiden name, and I also wanted to see if I could track down homestead records for him. I have now received his birth record from the General Register Office in England, and his homestead file from Saskatchewan.

William Cook (sometimes written “Cooke”), my maternal great great grandfather, was born on August 4, 1849 in Timberland, Lincolnshire, England. His parents were William Cook and Ann Squires. As it turned out, Ann’s family was already on my family tree--follow me now--as she was the half-sister of William senior’s brother Thomas’s wife, Elizabeth Squires. Discovering Ann’s maiden name this week has been wonderful, as it has led me back a few more generations on William’s tree. William senior first worked as an agricultural labourer, then as a “carrier”, i.e. transporting goods by horse and carriage, likely for the railroad, and then at the end of his life as a “coal higlar”, i.e. selling coal by horse and carriage. He lived in Timberland his whole life.

William junior was much more of a wanderer. He married Emma Green at St. Cuthbert’s, the Church of Wilton-in-Cleveland in Wilton, North Yorkshire, between the towns of Redcar and Eston, on January 10, 1871. She was also from Lincolnshire, so it is not known if they met in Lincolnshire or Yorkshire. They were born the same year, so they were both twenty-one when they got married. They resided in the nearby town of Lazenby, where he was a “labourer in the iron mines” and she was a “dressmaker”. (It helps that they got married in a census year, so this helps to expand the picture of what their life was like then). Their address was 8 North Street, Lazenby, Yorkshire. You can read my blogposts on Emma for the details of their lives in England and Canada, and for more family stories about William and his problem with alcohol. These can be viewed at: and

As I mentioned before, William came to Canada, with his brother Elijah, a year before his wife and family. The family lived in Ontario before homesteading in Assinaboia, later called Saskatchewan. Specifically, they lived in the Orangeville district of Moosomin. William himself states in his homestead record in 1899 that he received “entry” for the northwest quarter of Section 12, Township 15, Range 31, 1st Meridian in October 1893. He states that he built a house on the land in 1895 and began residence there in February 1896, staying there until September of that year. The house was a 16 by 20 foot log cabin with a shingle roof, worth three hundred dollars in 1899. He returned in April 1897, and was joined by his wife and nine children in October of 1897.  In a statement made in 1899, he revises the dates for residency and the construction of his house to be about a year earlier. This makes more sense, as his youngest son Alfred Godfrey Cook was born in Assinaboia East on March 3, 1995. I suppose his wife and children could also have been living in the area, but in other accommodations. In 1893, he “broke” five acres; in 1894 he cropped five acres and broke ten to eighteen more; in 1895 he cropped fifteen acres and broke another twenty-two; for a total of 95 acres broken by 1899. In 1894, he had three horses and two cattle, and by 1896 he had four horses and five cattle. Finally in 1899, he had six horses, three cattle and nine pigs. Also on his land was a 17 by 24 foot stable, and a 14 by 17 granary, both with sod roofs. He also had a pig pen and two wells. There is no mention of the specific grain crops that he cultivated.

In 1906, the family is still living on the farm, but the five oldest children have left home, and all of these are found in fairly nearby communities. By 1908, William and Emma are living at 144 Donald Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he is a “retired farmer”. He died there on January 14, 1908 of diabetes at the age of fifty-eight. He is considered to have been one of the original homesteaders in the Orangeville area of Moosamin, Saskatchewan, and in listed as such in Moosamin Century One: Town and Country:


Anonymous said...

My ancestors were at the Houghton Arms in Timberland so I hope they did not contribute to the problem. I also had another ancestor from Timberland who emigrated to America in the late C19th so I do not know whether there was a mass exodus or what prompted some to leave.

Duncnsuzi@hotmail said...

My wife and I now live at Houghton House in Timberland, which used to be the Houghton Arms until the late 1950's. We would be delighted to hear any information on the buildings past use. We now run a holiday cottage business at the premises. You can find us on Facebook as The Tavern at Timberland.
Duncan and Sue

Sherry said...

Hello Duncan. I don't know much more about the Houghton Arms, except that my ancestors are very likely to have frequented this establishment considerably. If I come across anything further about it, I will be sure to let you know.