#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Luck

This Friday the 13th, I find myself thinking about the bad luck of my grandfather’s grandparents and their family.

Dewey Hoyt Cook

Dewey Hoyt Cook

My maternal grandfather was Dewey Hoyt Cook. He did well for himself, becoming a teacher and a landowner, and doing a variety of other jobs along the way.  His mother was Dorcas Elizabeth Allison, known as Dollie. Around 1903 or 1904, her parents packed up the kids in Georgia and headed west for Oklahoma.

The story, as told to my second cousin Pat Lowe, is that they were on a train that derailed or crashed somewhere near Tupelo, Mississippi. Dollie’s mother, Delila Bruce Allison, was fatally injured. It’s not clear whether she died in Mississippi or later, after they arrived in Oklahoma. We’ve found no death record. No gravesite. Not even an article about the train wreck.

Delila’s husband, Dollie’s father, S. John Allison, the story goes, was distraught over her death. He died in 1904, as did their youngest boy, just a baby. No further records have been found for the second youngest child, Ida.

Dorcas Elizabeth "Dollie" Allison Cook

Portrait of Dorcas Elizabeth “Dollie” Allison Cook

The surviving children went back to Marian County, Georgia, where Dollie married Arthur Thomas Cook.

Arthur’s father, John Cook, had died a few years earlier. He was killed in a shootout in 1898. Family lore said it was the result of an argument over a whiskey worm, the coil of copper tubing integral to a still.  John’s son James Robert Cook was, according to the Columbus, Georgia, Enquirer-Sun, wounded in the affray. The Kemp boys, Tom and Frank, were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

19 years later, John’s oldest son, John Cyle Cook, would follow him to the grave. In 1917, John Cyle was also killed in a shooting. Columbus newspapers reported that he was at a picnic when he was attacked by three men in a dispute related to “illicit distilling.”

Some bad luck is random, like a train wreck. Other times, it seems, one brings the bad lucky on oneself.

I am glad that my pap-pa Hoyt stayed out of the whiskey-making business!

This post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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