#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Females

Lucinda Ryals Cook

Lucinda Ryals Cook is one of my most distant female relatives for whom I actually have a decent picture. I must give credit to Paula Quintana, who shared this photo on her Ancestry tree, and God bless her and everyone who shares photos and documents on public family trees.

The earliest record I’ve found for my 2nd great-grandmother is the 1860 Census. She is listed as Lucinda Royal, age five, in the household with her parents John and Lotty Royal. The family is living in the Redbone District of Marion County, Georgia.

In 1870, she is 14. Lucinda is still living with her parents, given as John B. and Lota Ryals, but they’ve moved to Pine Knot, in Chattahoochee County, Georgia.

By 1880, Loucinda is married to John Cook. They are living in Pine Knot with three small children – Kyle, age 5; Mary, age 2; and James R., less than a year old.

Of course, we don’t have the 1890 Census.

In November 1898, we have a brief mention of her in the Geneva, Georgia, Enquirer-Sun. She had been involved in a shootout: “Dr. R. L. Boynton, of this place, was called last night to attend Mr. John Cook, who had been shot in a drunken row at Mr. Charles Palmer’s, eight miles south of here, in Marion county. He found Cook dead, shot through the lung. Cook’s eighteen year old son was shot three times, but not dangerously wounded. Cook’s wife was shot at several times, but not hit.” (Transcription courtesy my cousin Pat Lowe.)

In 1900, Lucinda Cook is living in Pine Knot, but now it’s in Marion County. We learn she has given birth to 12 children, with 10 still living. Seven are in the household with her – Lizzie B., age 18; Silas W., age 16; Lou Della, age 13; Arthur, age 11; Annie M., age 9; Maggie, age 8; and Emmett, age 3.

She was not alone for long. In 1903, Lucinda Cook married Charlie Hale, a man 25 years her junior. Their marriage is recorded in Chattahoochee County, Georgia.

The 1910 Census finds the couple living in Escambia County, Florida. They are living with Lucinda’s youngest children Maggie and Emmett. Lucinda’s son William is living just a couple of houses away. Another of Lucinda’s sons, my great-grandfather Arthur Cook, is also living in Escambia County but in a different enumeration district.

In June 1913, Lucinda’s youngest child Emmett died, just a few weeks after his 16th birthday. Family members have said he drowned in a mill pond. Perhaps that tragedy made it difficult to remain in Escambia County, for in 1917, when Charlie registered for the draft, he and Lucinda were back in Pine Knot. They remained there through the 1920 and 1930 censuses. Lucinda died in 1936 at age 82.

I wonder what drew Lucinda to John Cook. Both her husband and her oldest son were killed in shootouts, and I can only imagine what kind of men they were and what kind of woman she was. Then for Lucinda to marry a man so much younger than she – and he may have been her cousin, though I’m not positive about that. The little I know only makes her that much more fascinating to me. I wish I could know more about her life.

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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4 Responses to #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Females

  1. Eilene Lyon says:

    Did you ever find out what the shootings were about? Was anyone tried for murder? Might shed some light on their activities.

    • Taminar says:

      The story that was passed down was that that John Cook was killed in a dispute over a whiskey worm, the twisty piece of copper from a still. Tom and Frank Kemp were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. While awaiting an appeal, they escaped and were recaptured; that story made it into the Atlanta Constitution. My Mam-ma always said, if you lie with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas. I think John and at least some of his children spent a lot of time around dogs.

  2. Barb LaFara says:

    Lucinda’s story is made for a streaming, limited series soap. “Pine Knot” has all the right elements to capture today’s audience. Thanks for sharing.

    • Taminar says:

      I know so little about her life, beyond those brief moments of notoriety, but you’re right, filling in the blanks could make for a very interesting series!

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