Thursday, October 13, 2016
Walking in the Footsteps of Mary Cooke
Though we do not have a photograph of Mary Elizabeth Cooke (1857-1951), her life has been well documented in resources available at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. She was the youngest daughter of Pitt Cooke and his wife, the former Mary Elizabeth Townsend. She was the granddaughter of Sandusky’s first lawyer, Eleutheros Cooke, and a niece of Civil War financier Jay Cooke. Mary E. Cooke’s maternal grandparents, William and Mary Townsend, were pioneer residents of Sandusky. After the Townsends died in the cholera epidemic of 1849, Pitt and Mary (Townsend) Cooke took in the orphaned Townsend children and raised them with their own six children.
In the 1860s and 1870s, the Pitt Cooke family resided in New York, where Pitt worked with his brother Jay Cooke in the banking business. Helen Hansen wrote in At Home in Early Sandusky that the Pitt Cooke family kept the former Townsend home at 515 West Washington Street as a summer residence.
Mary E. Cooke was age 22 at the time of the 1880 U.S. Census and was living in the large family home on Washington Street, along with her mother, cousin, aunt, siblings and two servants. By this time, her father Pitt had died. From 1919 until her death in 1951, she lived at 904 Wayne Street. Locally, her home was known fondly as “the house of a hundred windows.”