Debates about kinship only made sense when there was no other way to disentangle the evidence. Then in 2008, a new tool for genealogical research was applied to theories about the origins of Cook/Cooke families appearing—as though independently—in Portaupique and Gays River.13 A chosen candidate, a direct heir of the first William Cook’s son John Cook of Portaupique, and another candidate, a direct heir of William Cook of Gays River, agreed to participate. The test was to be based on 37 markers or alleles. The results revealed a precise match of 36 out of 37 alleles, providing evidence to say:
- William Cook of Gays River was one and the same William who originally came to Portaupique with his father and Sidney Holmes.
- John Cook of Portaupique and William Cook of Gays River were brothers; both were sons of William Cook who drowned at Portaupique.
Most historians of the Cook/Cooke lines in Londonderry Township deal with James and Martha Cook and their heirs, while those interested in the heirs of William and Leah Campbell Cook of Gays River, Halifax County were, until recently, on independent searches.
Only in analyzing the estate papers of the first William Cook of Portaupique as well as Colchester and Halifax County land records, various Census records, vital statistics, community and family histories can one begin to sort out the relationships surrounding Sidney Holmes and her three husbands. Thomas Miller makes no mention of John and William Cook. The guardianship of two Cook boys absent from all other records to that time implies a first marriage for their father. And, some 250 years later, the tool of genetic testing could offer unequivocal evidence of their relationship, in spite of their families living in different counties and having become unaware of each other as kin. The Cooks of Portaupique and Gays River are genetically related, and the almost-overlooked brothers, John and William, turn out to be the progenitors of heirs in both Colchester and Halifax Counties and beyond.