DNA with Pictures

Never did most of these men guess they could perform a simple test that would reflect the genetic code of their father, grandfather, great grandfather back to their great-times-five grandfather. Think of it. For these men, that was the 1700s, the 18th century.

It means that the y-chromosome of a man who lived generations ago was passed on through each of his male heirs to the present day. If you’re male, you have an almost identical profile of the Y-chromosome that your five-times grandfather had.

The value of understanding our genetic profile is an unfolding story. For one thing, there are medical benefits from understanding inheritance and the origin of genetic diseases. Crime investigation and forensics are another area that uses DNA in distinguishing people. Anthropologists use DNA to study where the world’s populations originated and how they have moved around. And closer to home, genealogists and family historians use DNA to find and confirm family relationships and confirm from where our ancestors migrated.

These men are the first generation that could have done this. Their fathers could not have done so because several scientific discoveries were necessary before it was even possible. Though inheritance has been studied since 1865 when Gregor Mendel studied garden peas, it was as recent as the 1990s that the Human Genome Project was started and, over the following decade, a map was created of the human genetic landscape.1

First of all, the chemists and molecular biologists who know their way around DNA—short for deoxyribonucleic acid—had to invent easy tests for people who wanted answers about their family history. The men pictured here performed a cheek swab, rubbing a little brush on the inside of their mouth, then returned it to a company that specializes in reading the results. Each allowed his results to be posted on a website where, in 2013, there were 401 other Cook-Cooke-Koch men also interested in kinship lines.2

By 2019 nearly 1,800 Cook-Cooke-Koch results were included in the Family Tree DNA central database and the growing interest in DNA’s contribution to family history offers an unparalleled benefit of certainty. Paper records can be mistaken but genetic evidence is straight-arrow reliable.

It doesn’t eliminate the need for careful paper trails from past to present-day, and they often take considerable time, but close DNA matches are an occasion for celebration.

The first two men of this group linked by DNA could trace their heritage to two brothers who sailed from Londonderry Ireland, arriving in Nova Scotia in 1761. Two more men, with Nova Scotia roots, expanded knowledge of the family. Surprisingly, additional matches independently appeared in the database from the Carolinas, Texas and Oregon. Most recently, a match appeared from Australia. His line goes back to a John Cook from Londonderry, Ireland who sailed for Western Australia in 1838.

These eight men are all related to one another, their DNA tells us so. A few have complete paper trails and the others are working on theirs.  Like most family histories, they are continually under construction.

Allan Patterson Cooke David Lawrence Cook George Melville Cooke

Allan Patterson Cooke,
Joan Cooke Hoxie Collection


David Lawrence Cook,
Nova Scotia.
David L.Cook


George Melville Cooke,
Nova Scotia.
George M. Cooke Collection


Jeffrey Mark Cook James Robert Cook

Jeffrey Mark Cook,
Susan Gautier Cook


James Robert Cook,
Karen Cook Hubbard Collection


Robert Allen Cook Sr.
Bob Cook Collection



Heath Patrick Cook,
Heath Cook Collection


Nicholas Peter A. Cook,
QLD, Australia.
Nick Cook Collection




1 wikepedia.org/wiki/Human_Genome_Project
2 FamlyTreeDNA, Houston, TX 77008, www.familytreedna.com