We know that Londonderry, Northern Ireland was a port from which many immigrant families and individuals sailed for the new world. It’s known that a vessel named the Hopewell regularly brought passengers from Ulster to Philadelphia and other Delaware River ports. In 1761, for instance, the Hopewell was specially commissioned to take passengers from Northern Ireland to Halifax in Nova Scotia. Though no passenger list survives, subsequent records reveal that two families named Cook were onboard. Their names were James Cook and William Cook. These men were of the same generation as Thomas Cook in North Carolina as he died about 1791 while James Cook of Nova Scotia died in 1794. Their wives, Margaret Cook of Coddle Creek North Carolina died in 1802 while Martha Cook of Portaupique, Nova Scotia died in 1808. Both Thomas and James had children of marriageable age.
The other puzzle-piece has to do with recurring names of families and places. A roll call of names such as Cathey, Beatty, Davidson, Moore, Dickey, Kerr, McKnight, Brandon from early Iredell County, North Carolina, could as easily be called out in Nova Scotia among the Ulster Scots in the Cobequid townships in Nova Scotia. These families were among a massive westward migration, “Protestants from the North of Ireland”, they were called. In Iredell, these families were members of the Hopewell Presbyterian Church, one of the earliest in North Carolina.
A compelling source of evidence linking Thomas Cook of Iredell with James and William Cook of Nova Scotia comes from DNA testing wherein a male descendant of each of these men did a test designed to prove kinship back 4-8-12 generations. Each candidate shared the same R1b1a2 haplogroup and readings revealed the three shared a common ancestor prior to the time of paper records. Because DNA is such fundamental evidence, it remains for the paper trail to catch up.
This line of Cooks begins with Thomas and Margaret Cook in North Carolina. There is a paper trail of their descendants through Tennessee, Missouri and thence to Utah and Oregon. Like any family history, it is open to continued verification and correction but one tenet is certain: Cook family members having lived in Oregon since the 1880s are of the same Cook families who came to Nova Scotia in the 1760s.
Available, on request, are the sources on which this study of Thomas and Margaret Cook is based.