Connecting the Family of John Pleasant Cook

Dann M. Norton © 2020

While working with the DNA matches for Jon McCarty, a descendant of John and Ritta (Freeman) Cook of Central Illinois, several Cook matches popped up.  The common ancestors of these matches seem to fall into two groups: descendants of John Pleasant Cook and his wife Amelia Fox, and descendants of Isaac Davis and Elizabeth Cook.

Below are the records that will prove that John Pleasant Cook and Elizabeth Cook Davis are the children of John Cook and Ritta Freeman who married on 16 Aug 1826, in Montgomery County, Illinois.[1]

Images from Montgomery County IL Marriage Record Book 1, 1821-841, p8

John Cook died in 1847 in Mexico, a casualty of the Mexican War.  This Bureau of Land Management military warrant[2] states his military unit, and the names of his heirs.

Written in the first paragraph is the following: “Ritta Cook, Widow, Elizabeth Cook, William Cook, Rebecca Cook, Barbara Cook, Pleasant Cook, Jacob Cook, only surviving children, heirs at law–John Cook, deceased–private Captain Freeman’s Company, Third Regiment, Illinois Volunteers…”

The second paragraph indicates that William E. Stokes is the assignee of this land, situated in Fayette County, Illinis.  Also, William Beck is designated as the guardian of the children.

William Beck married Lucinda Freeman on 25 March 1824 by Henry Sears–the same man who married John and Ritta–and with the consent of William’s father, John Beck, and Lucinda’s father, R. Freeman.[3]

The 1850 census of Fayette County, Illinois, lists the Cook children in the household of William and Lucinda Beck.[4]  Those name are William cook, age 16, Rebecca, 14, Pleasant, 7, and Jacob, 5.  Elizabeth and Barbara are not listed.  It is probable that Elizabeth was already married.  She is listed as the mother of Isaac Davis on his 1931 death certificate[5] in Shelby County, Illinois. There is some question as to the timing of events in her life.  Her son Isaac is said to be born on12 May 1848, in Fayette County, but she did not marry the father, Isaac, until 1854 same county.[6]  Perhaps the year is wrong in the Illinois Marriage Database (the original is not avaible online), or maybe the son is the child of a previous husband, but raised as a Davis.  Descendants should examine their DNA matches closely to see if there are missing ancestral surnames. 

The 1860 census of Mercer County, Missouri, shows the Beck household with Pleasant and Jacob Cook still living with William and Lucinda.[7]  Pleasant is age 17, which fits with his age in 1850–he was born about 1843.  Jacob, age 16, was born about 1844-45.  In 1861, Pleasant is listed on the Civil War Draft.[8]

His age is given as 22, making a birth about 1839.  This is about five years to early, but suggests that he was lying about his age in order to serve.  The record shows he was part of “Merrill’s Horse.”   That would be Col. Lewis Merrill’s Cavalry[9], serving as private in Company D, 2nd Regiment.[10]

From here on, Pleasant Cook maintained his birth about 1839, even though he was born after 1840.  (The 1840 census of Shelby County, IL, shows John Cook with only one son born before 1840.[11] The details of the census–age 30-40 for John, and four daughters under ten–make the John Cook found on page 173 a better fit than another, older John Cook found on page 192.[12])  John Pleasants Cook is later found in Cooke County, Texas, with a wife, Amelia A., and children.[13] The 1890 Veterans’ Census confirms that this J.P. Cook of Cooke County is indeed Pleasant Cook of Missouri–the military unit is the same.[14] 

In the 1900 census of Cooke County, John Pleasant Cook gave his birth information as March 1839.[15]  Again, records from 1850 and 1860 prove he was actually born about 1843.

This report is sent to those DNA matches of Jon McCarty who show descent from either John Pleasant Cook or Elizabeth Cook Davis.  It is hoped that those descendants will share this with interested family members, and correct any mis-attributed parentage in online trees.  For example, an online tree at shows John Pleasant Cook as the son of James Cooke and Ann Tureman Cooke of Cass County, Illinois.[16]  This is incorrect and should be changed. Correcting these errors will help future researchers locate the names of John Cook’s parents.

Contact the author: Dann M. Norton,

Follow-up: As research continued, connections to Jeremiah Cook (m. Caroline Stark) and Jacob Cook (m. Mary Traughber) of Logan County, Kentucky, suggest they are brothers of John Cook. These men are all connected to Tennessee, and particularly Robertson County. More matches with descendants of Valentine Cook (m. Catharine Craft) seem to suggest that John Cook’s father was an older brother of Valentine, Jacob Cook (m. Catharine Zech). Well, that maybe be half right. Jon McCarty has many Trobaugh (another spelling of Traughber) matches. It just happens that there is record of a Jacob Cook, Jr., of Robertson Co, TN, who was raised by Jacob Cook and wife, Elizabeth Rein or Rine. A Chancery case in Virginia lays out that Jacob Cook, Jr. was not the biological son of Jacob Sr., but the son of a Trobaugh by Elizabeth. Here is a blog post at Bob’s Genealogy Filing Cabinet concerning the case. The original records are available online at Virginia Memory.

[1] “Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 3 March 2016), 005203002 > image 347 of 435; county offices, Illinois.

[2] file:///C:/Users/Norton/Desktop/MW_Patent_1025-243.PDF

[3] “Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 3 March 2016), 005203002 > image 343 of 435; county offices, Illinois.

[4] “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 4 April 2020), William Beck, Fayette county, Fayette, Illinois, United States; citing family 583, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

[5] “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947,” database, FamilySearch ( : 8 March 2018), Isaac Davis, 08 Nov 1931; Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield; FHL microfilm 1,684,269.


[7] “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 November 2020), William Beck, 1860.

[8] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War); Collection Name: Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865 (Civil War Union Draft Records); NAI: 4213514; Archive Volume Number: 1 of 1. Source Information: U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data:

Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865. NM-65, entry 172, 620 volumes. NAI: 4213514. Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives at Washington D.C.


[10] National Park Service. U.S., Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, online <;, acquired 2007.

[11] Year: 1840; Census Place: Shelby, Illinois; Roll: 70; Page: 173; Family History Library Film: 0007644. Source Information: 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

[12] Year: 1840; Census Place: Shelby, Illinois; Roll: 70; Page: 192; Family History Library Film: 0007644. Source Information: 1840 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

[13] “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 14 November 2020), John Cook in household of J. P. Cook, Cooke, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district ED 112, sheet 235D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,298.

[14] The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War; Series Number: M123; Record Group Title: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Record Group Number: 15; Census Year: 1890. Source Information: 1890 Veterans Schedules of the U.S. Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

Original data: Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M123, 118 rolls); Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[15] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 December 2020), John P Cook, Justice Precinct 7 (south part), Cooke, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 39, sheet 7A, family 117, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,623.


Marriage, War, and a Submarine

December 6, 1941, my grandparents married in Princeton, Mercer County, Missouri. Grandpa, Clarence Allan Norton, was 19 and Grandma, Mary Louisa Gott–pronounced Lou-WHY-Za!–was just 15!

Mary L. Gott

I always heard that her mother lied about her age to give her permission to marry. Despite their youth, they were married, and now adults…about to step into a world of war. When they awoke the next day, December 7, the news of the early morning bombing of Pearl Harbor was filtering to the mainland. The next day, war was declared on Japan–The United States had entered World War II.

Grandpa joined the Navy soon after. He and Grandma had started a family, but duty to country was the priority.

Clarence, Mary, and George

About the only story I know from Grandpa Norton’s Navy life is how he helped capture the German submarine, U-505, on display at Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry. You can see photographs from Grandpa’s ship, the USS Pillsbury, and from the taking of the submarine at this 2017 blog post.

In July, 2019, I took my son, Paschal Norton, to see the submarine and tell him about how his great-grandpa helped capture it.

The exhibit has been enhanced since my first visit as a 5th-grader in 1981. The displays of models, the snippets of newsreel, and the interactive displays give you a lot take in.

The submarine itself is the main attraction, and you get to tour it. The cramped spaces, the dials and gadgets! It’s very interesting–for young and old!

The torpedo is cool too!

At the end of the exhibit, there are large panels listing the names of the sailors. We found Grandpa’s name. I am not sure his rank is correct here.

When I was younger, he definitely told me that he was an MoMM–Motor Machinist’s Mate–something he said the Navy didn’t have anymore. That is what shows on his military stone at his gravesite.

Every December 6, I remember Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding anniversary–they had 53 years together!

50th Wedding Anniversary, 1991

And I recall that Dec 7 is Pearl Harbor Day. That reminds me of Grandpa’s service in the Navy, and how he captured that German submarine.