#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Multiples

The first multiples that came to mind when I saw this week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge prompt were my great-uncles Horace and Hurley Cook.

The twins were born to Arthur Thomas Cook and Dorcas Elizabeth Allison,known as Dollie, on November 9th, 1916. According to Dollie’s granddaughter Jane, all Dollie’s babies were around 10 to 11 pounds at birth, including the twins! During the later stages of her pregnancy with Horace and Hurley, she told Jane, Arthur had to carry her from bed to sit on the porch, and then carry her back again, because of the weight.

The twins’ full names are Horace Murphy Cook and Hurley Sellous Cook. Hurley’s daughter Mary Ann said the middle names both came from local doctors. In fact, she said, her father was named after Dr. Sellers, but it ended up spelled Sellous instead.

Horace married Cuminell Wise, known as Nell, on October 11th, 1941. They had one son. Horace’s middle name of Murphy was passed down to his son.

Hurley married Grace Elizabeth Morgan on November 22nd, 1938, in Etowah, Alabama. They had one daughter. On February 7th, 1942, in Etowah, Alabama, Hurley married Wilhelmina Eliza Merritt, known as “Johnnie.” They had two sons.

In August, 1942, the boys enlisted in the Naval Reserve. An article published in the Pensacola newspaper said they were “the first set of twins, enlisted through the local Navy recruiting station and accepted for duty in the Naval reserve.” The article went on to say, “Horace, a former cement finisher at Eglin Field, received a rating of petty officer, second class, and Hurley, formerly employed as crane operator at the Naval Air station here, is now a petty officer, first class.”

Photo of twins Horace and Hurley Cook.
Hurley Cook in dark shirt, Horace in white. Photo scanned from the collection of Hurley’s daughter.

After the war, Horace established his own construction company in Escambia County, Florida. His son later joined him in the business. Hurley left the service after the war but later re-enlisted and served a total of 22 years. He retired as a Chief Petty Officer in 1965; at the time, he had been working as an instructor at the Naval Reserve Training Center in Durham, and he remained in North Carolina, working as a real estate broker.

Horace died on December 20th, 1968, at Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. The death certificate lists immediate cause as hypotension due to renal and liver failure as a consequence of carcinoma of the colon. He was buried at Bayview Memorial Park in Pensacola, Escambia, Florida. I was just three years old when he died, and we had only visited Pensacola a couple of times since I was born, so I didn’t know him at all. Aunt Nell lived in the same house, and I visited her many times there. I know from seeing his photo there and hearing her talk about him that he was a member of the Shriners.

Hurley and Johnnie remained married until his death on June 15th, 1975, at Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. The death certificate lists immediate cause as dissecting ascending aortic aneurism as a consequence of atherosclerotic vascular disease. He was buried near his brother at Bayview Memorial Park in Pensacola. We were living in Pensacola at the time, and I can’t say for sure if I remember going to the funeral, but I do remember overhearing a comment that I suppose stuck with me because it seemed a bit eerie. The person said that the coffin chosen for Hurley was just like the one chosen for Horace.

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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