Sources for Gordon Leander Cooke & Josephine Putnam Douglass

At the time of the 1880 US Census, Gordon Cook was a resident of Dighton, Bristol, MA. He gave his birth year as 1861; he was single, aged 19, a farm worker and both his parents were Canadian-born. Source:

At the 1900 US Census, Gordon was married with children. They lived in Ward 1 of Somerville, Middlesex, MA. Gordon still spelled his family name without an ‘e’ and his middle initial was ‘L’. His birth is February 1861, in Canada. Josie Putnam Douglass Cook, born in Canada, married about 1892. One or both of them immigrated in 1888. Their children were 7 year old Douglass G. Cook and 2 year old Amos C. Cook.

Gordon’s death record is among the database of the Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics; Year: 1923, Book: 62, Page: 525. And yes, he died on his 62nd birthday. He was “Irish-Scotch”, a farmer, married; and the cause of death was ataxia. His son, Douglass G. Cook was the informant and Douglass was a resident of Malden, MA at the time.

In a Release of Mortgage document dated 7 July 1941 between James LeRoy Cook to his cousins Frank and Lester Chisholm, there’s reference to “Leander Gordon Cook”. It’s cited here for the order and spelling of Gordon’s name. See Book 205, p.152-3, Land Registry Office, Truro, NS.

The 1891 Census of Canada, found on, includes this information about Josie. She’s living with her family in District 35 of Hants County at Selmah, NS. She’s mistakenly listed as “Josephas” Douglass. In the household are: Esther 58, Otis 28, “Josephas” 23, Maud 21, “Snith” 19, Laura 15 and Jessie 19. Of Josie, she’s born about 1868, her father is deceased; “Snith” and Jessie appear to be the same age and they are adherents of the “Free Church”. Jessie, as it turns out, isn’t a twin of Smith’s; she’s actually Jessie McLean, wife of Otis. In the 1900 US Census, Otis and family will be found in Warren, Bristol, Rhode Island.

The record of the marriage the 18th of February, 1892, was found on the New England Historic Genealogical Society website by Susan Cook of Gloucester, MA. Josie is listed as Josephine Douglass, clerk, aged 24, born in Nova Scotia. The groom is listed as Gordon Cook, teamster, aged 30 and Nova Scotia-born. See Massachusetts Vital Records, Vol. 426, p.26 for Boston.

Josie’s birth information comes from the 1900 US Census for Somerville, Massachusetts while her death is recorded in The Presbyterian Witness Sat. 8th Nov 1902, Vol. LV, No. 45, p.360, based on vital statistics compiled by J. & S. McCormick.  Josephine Douglass Cook, daughter of the late Samuel Douglass, died 22 Oct. 1902 at Selma, Hants County, NS, aged 35.

The Truro Daily News recorded her death as occurring at Upper Selma, the wife of Gordon Cooke.

The 1900 US Census was enumerated on June 1st. In Somerville City in Middlesex County, MA, both Gordon and Josie have been in the USA for 12 years, having immigrated in 1888. They have been married for eight years. The record attributes two sons to them. It is clearly visible that the elder Douglass G. is aged 17 (sic). The parents have been married 8 years and there are not 15 years between the boys. Douglass should be aged 7.

While The Presbyterian Witness indicates Josie died in Selma, Hants County, it’s quite unclear why anyone would conclude she was buried in Five Islands. The Five Islands connection seems to have come from a Douglass family researcher and posted on the Latter Day Saints website. It was then copied, but no source is cited. Of the 915 entries of burials recorded in Five Islands and available at the Colchester Historical Society Archives site, there is no Cook(e) or Douglas(s) buried there. Unfortunately no death for Josie Cook is among the Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics database either. Nor can it yet be found online from Hants County cemeteries. This researcher contends that, if she died in Selma-Maitland, she was probably buried there with her birth family.

The name Douglass, both as given and surname, was frequently used with and without the final ‘s’ by Josie Douglass Cook and her son Douglass Cook. They were both, however, born with it in place.

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