Newspapers to the rescue to solve some family timeline issues.

My Cook ancestral family has origins in Dromcolliher (aka Dromcolligher Civil Parish, County Limerick) Ireland. My Great Great Grandfather James Cook (born ca 1837-1839) is still eluding me in the Catholic parish baptisms, but a sibling, John, has been found. Their parents were James Cook and Mary Green,, and John’s godparents were Edmund Green and Helena Green. I know that their sons, my James and his brother Andrew, came to Faribault, Rice County, Minnesota around 1869.  A descendant of Andrew had mentioned Dromcolliher to me many years ago. My James married Catherine (Kate) Moriarty in Ireland. Her mother Ellen came to Faribault with them. That was a surprise to me many years ago as a beginning genealogist. 

My Cook family from Ireland was always in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota! It’s a lesson many of us have had to learn. My James was the father of three sons and five daughters. Son John Thomas Cook was my great grandfather. When James’ son William died in 1899 in Saint Paul, I found a very small funeral notice in the Saint Paul newspaper that said, “Faribault papers please copy.” I asked my Grandma Gertrude (Cook) Hanley what that meant and with hands on her hips, she said “well, that’s where they were from.” All seven of James’ children were born and were baptized in Faribault at Immaculate Conception church, an Irish congregation. 

My next task was to determine when they moved an hour away to the big city of Saint Paul. City directories provided a pretty good timeline and the 1895 state census helped with that. The first year James and some of his children appear in the directory is 1891, but oldest daughter Mary (Minnie) was in the 1890 directory and working at West Publishing Company. They were renters, so property records were not of assistance in this. James was a plasterer as was his son John T. That occupation was helpful in figuring out which James was mine in the directories. Why did they leave Faribault, and could I figure out a more specific time? James’ brother Andrew and his large family stayed in Faribault. Why did only one of them move? A job opportunity? Revisiting my files and adding new research is always smart.

Searching for a James Cook in the Saint Paul newspapers isn’t easy due to the common name. The Minnesota Historical Society has digitized some newspapers from around the state. I did some checking for family mentions in those for Faribault but didn’t get a sense of when they moved. THEN I saw a Northfield News link. Northfield is in the same county. I may have found a reason they moved and why I have so little family memorabilia. I need to continue reading land records from Rice County.


Northfield News, 19 April 1890, Page 1, column 7.

Grandma also said Grandma Gert also said the family came from County Cork. Guess what county Dromcolliher borders? More research to do.


© 2022, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

Please follow and like us:

2 comments on “Newspapers to the rescue to solve some family timeline issues.

  1. Hi Paula! Such fun to read about your Limerick ancestors! My Mary Danaher came from Co. Limerick, too — from Doon, near Tipperary, but her grandfather, Michael, came from Cork. And, like your James, she ended up in Minnesota — Stillwater, by way of New York where she had married Sylvester Burrows (an orphan, so he’s been a challenge — lots of leads, but no proof). It was a pleasure to read about your Cooks, and to appreciate all we’ve learned since we started this ancestor hunt!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.