Cooksey - Thomas and Family - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Cooksey - Thomas and Family

(Thomas) COOKSEY Family

Note: Photo courtesy of the Crawfordsville District Public Library

Note: Thomas Cooksey was a doctor, Chatauqua speaker, mayor of Crawfordsville for 14 years and one great guy. His son, Tom is who the article is about, written by Bill Pickett, his cousin, but there are many interesting things about the Dr., and several Montgomery Countians, as well. Thanks so much to Liz Cooksey for sharing this wonderful information on some of the interesting men of our community!

Picture of  Thomas & wife, Minnie Beatty.

I need to research sometime when he was mayor  CDPL database

Pic from CDPL of Mayor Cooksey and his policemen -- Seven police officers in uniform (front row) and four men in formal civilian clothes (back row) pose in front of the General Lew Wallace statue on the grounds of the Wallace study, c. 1931-1934. The identification card included with the photograph reads: "left-right Paul Branagan, Charles Johnson, Otto Biederstot, Merle Remley, 'IND State Police,' Charles Curtin, Fred Grimes." Mayor Thomas Cooksey stands in the back row, third from the left. Coverage: There are other Cooksey-related pictures at the image database above :) ENJOY!

Lastly, here are several local doctors in front of the Lilly Research Laboratory before a tour - they are named according to how they are standing:


Source: MEMORIES OF THOMAS COOKSEY - written by Bill Pickett, his cousin -- November 22, 2008 -- More memories of childhood in Crawfordsville and Aunt Minnie and Uncle Doc Cooksey (and Tom, their son and his wife, Florence) by Bill Pickett: 205 Marshall Street, Crawfordsville, Indiana I have few, if any memories of Cousin Tom Cooksey and his parents, my Aunt Minnie and Uncle Doc, before leaving Crawfordsville, Indiana in early 1942 with my mother and father (I was two years old) for Memphis, Tennessee, where my father was enrolled in the Southern College of Optometry. Indeed, I have few memories of that early period, except for a vague image of myself with my mother, Amy Beatty Pickett, as I toddle beside her on our way to meet my father, Walter Nathan "Nate" Pickett, walking home from his job as a clerk at the municipal building on Pike Street. I recall running toward him. He reaches down, lifting me up in his arms . . . . I became aware of my cousin Tom Cooksey and his beautiful wife, Florence, the following year when my mother returned to Crawfordsville, Indiana, from Memphis for the months leading up to the birth to my sister, Mary Anne. This was in the late spring of 1943, the second year of American involvement in World War II. On the trip, I recall sitting in a railroad passenger car (probably a Pullman sleeper) on sidings as troop trains went by and when we stopped at stations as we traveled north from Tennessee, groups of soldiers in uniform. Arriving in Crawfordsville, we went to live with Aunt Minnie Beatty Cooksey and her husband, Dr. Thomas L. Cooksey, ("Uncle Doc") at 205 Marshall Street, which at the time was undergoing a few improvements-I recall freshly poured, hexagonal concrete foot pads along the north side of the house. A modest white, one-and-a-half-story, the house was clap board with low peaked roof and dormer windows extending from finished attic bedrooms. I recall, at one point, being alone in bed upstairs when suddenly the night light went out and none of the switches would work because city power had been turned off for an air raid black-out drill. I called to Aunt Minnie and then crawled downstairs to be with her until the lights came back on. That spring and summer, in this comfortable house on its quiet, tree-shaded street, its veranda front porch with high-backed, wooden swing large enough to hold two people, I heard my mother and Aunt Minnie talk about her son, my cousin Tom, now married and living in Watseka, Illinois, where he was assistant editor of the newspaper.

The house on Marshall Street, it turned out, would play an important role in my life, just as it did for both Cousin Tom, who had been born on January 31, 1916 and my mother. As far as I know, it was the only house that the Cookseys ever owned. The story of their arrival there begins with Minnie, still a young woman, going out one evening to the town park in Hico, Texas ("Hico" is the word for "buzzard's roost" in the Apache language) to hear a travelling Chattauqua speaker named Thomas L. Cooksey that her sister, Amy, insisted that she go to see and hear. That one evening apparently was sufficient for Minnie. Fascinated by this tall, lean, well-spoken male, she was determined somehow to make his acquaintance. He had been born and raised in Brookville, Franklin County along the eastern Ohio border, gone to medical school and, after that, as a hobby, onto the inspirational speakers' circuit. She, a self-educated woman, had left Hico and worked in New York City in the merchant shipping business for a while before returning home to be near her parents, James and Emily Beatty, and their large family. One thing led to another over the next few months after Minnie first saw Dr. Cooksey, to whom she always would refer when talking to others as "the doctor." She by this time had a reputation (which lasted through her life) as single-minded and determined individual. Minnie had fallen in love; Thomas soon returned the sentiment; they were married, and moved to Crawfordsville, Montgomery County in west central Indiana half way between Indianapolis and Danville, Illinois.

He opened a medical practice in the upstairs office space of a building that, on its main floor, housed both a drugstore and a cigar store. An active Republican, he would go on to serve two terms as mayor of Crawfordsville. His first term was 1929-1933. The second began in 1939 and went to 1943. Minnie, for her part, was a sales agent for Banker's Life Insurance Company. During the early years, Tom attended Mills Elementary School, located around the corner and played with Dick Ristine ("Oh, Thom!" he would call), a boy his age who lived across the street at the corner of Marshall and Wabash Avenue. Ristine's great grandfather had been one of the founders of Crawfordsville, and Ristine himself would go on to serve as state senator, lieutenant governor, and trustee of Wabash College. As Tom got older and it was time to go to junior high and then high school he had to walk east along Wabash Avenue, which was one block to the south of 205 Marshall. It also was the northern border of the Wabash College campus. (He later recalled eating a good number of his meals at the Wabash student residence dining hall dining room.) He also worked summers in the golf pro shop of the Crawfordsville Country Club, where his father was a regular on the greens. And during some of these summers he and his Aunt Amy traveled in her car to visit her sisters and their families--one of whom, Clara Sellers, lived in Detroit and another, Dee Smith, in Atlanta. They may even have visited May Deeley in Waco, Texas. (Of the three other siblings, Lon died fairly early of an infected tooth. The others Price and Roy had long lives, as did Clara, Dee, and May. Price even attended Wabash College.)

In later years, I came to know that house at 205 Marshall rather intimately, for it was, it turned out, the source of my first income-producing work-money to spend on ice cream cones and comic books. As a child of perhaps twelve, my job was to run the vacuum sweeper across those floors and their pale green wall-to-wall carpet, back and forth until Aunt Minnie, who walked right behind me, was satisfied that I had not missed any patches. And I had my first summer job, mowing Aunt Minnie's grass with a reel-type push mower-a deal that was struck between my mother and her sister to both get me out into the world and learn the value of money.

The Cooksey property included the vacant lot at the corner of Marshall and Pike to the north that in the summer was full of grass and flowers. Upon entering the front door one could walk into the parlor area, which was carpeted wall-to-wall in shades of pale green, with stuffed chairs, an ornamental couch, end tables, and their accompanying lamps. If one went straight back through a high, wide-framed opening, one entered the living area, equally spacious, with a bay window facing the yard to the north. This room was the family sitting room and its accompanying newspapers, magazines, books, a day bed, and two overstuffed chairs--one for Minnie and one next to it for the doctor. Hers was red floral on white fabric and his was deep, fuzzy, red velvet in which he could sink his tall, six-foot-two frame and, pot belly. In the 1950s, their television console faced those chairs so Aunt Minnie and Uncle Doc could watch the news and sports as he relaxed after coming in from the office in the evening. Continuing back from the living room one entered a doorway into a short hall. To the right was the downstairs bathroom. To left was the kitchen. And if one continued through the kitchen and up two steps to the left, one could open the door to the stairway leading to the finished attic bedrooms, with their own bathroom. Also from the kitchen, by turning right one could go through the door to the enclosed back porch and then down the wooden back stairs through the small back yard to the two-car garage with doors that opened onto the ally that ran along the south side of the house. If however, one turned sharply to the left after entering the kitchen one could walk east through two bedrooms each of which opened, respectively, into the living room and parlor. The first was Minnie's and the second, the doctor's. It was to this house that, sometime around 1917, when Tom was an infant, my mother moved from Hico, Texas. She had finished high school and began pondering the next stage of her life.

Minnie was aware of this and invited her to Indiana to use the Cooksey house as her "headquarters" if she wanted to come to Indiana to attend college. Twelve years separated them, my mother having been born in 1899, the last of eight children, and Minnie in 1887, the first-born child; so Amy often thought of her as a second mother. For whatever reason, Amy accepted the invitation, enrolled in Butler University in Indianapolis forty-five miles to the east, easily accessible by interurban light rail, and graduated in 1921 with a degree in English. She then moved back to 205 Marshall Street and accepted a teaching position at Crawfordsville High School. Built just a decade earlier, the junior-senior high school occupied a prominent three-story, red-brick structure covering a full city block. Within a short time Amy had so impressed her colleagues and principal that he made her head of the English department. During one of these summers Amy traveled with college friends on a tour of Great Britain and the Continent. And it was during these years at 205 Marshall Street that she also came to know and love her young nephew, Tom. Uncle Doc and Aunt Minnie were busy with their lives, so Tom especially enjoyed the company of his Aunt Amy. My mother was living in the Cooksey residence when, sometime in the late 1930s, she fell in love with my father, Walter Nathan Pickett, the son of Walter Carson and Jessie Van Sickle Pickett. Eight years his senior, I discovered many years later, my mother had at one time been my father's English teacher. By the late 1930s, however, he was an attractive and eligible bachelor, a Wabash College graduate, class of 1929, with a pre-medical major. He had worked summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and after graduation in both Tombstone, Arizona on a highway construction crew and near Baltimore as an attendant in a mental institution. After returning to his hometown, he met Amy Beatty once again and, while they were in a play together at the Crawfordsville Community Theater in the late 1930s, fell in love with her. And it was at 205 Marshall Street that, on March 3, 1939, they were married. Among those in attendance were their many friends and relatives, including Minnie, Dr. Thomas L. Cooksey, and Amy's favorite nephew, their twenty-three-year-old son, Tom .

Years later, when as a college professor I drove through Crawfordsville and by the house at 205 Marshall, now occupied by some other family, I sometimes envisioned a wedding taking place in the early March of 1939, a pretty brunette with hazel eyes that could be both stern and soft, perhaps with a few strands of grey in her dark hair as she approached her fortieth birthday and a slender, handsome blonde man soon to have his thirty-second birthday facing the pastor of the Crawfordsville Christian Church in the living room. The pastor faces them and the gathered small crowd of friends and family sitting in short rows of folding chairs extending from the living room out into the parlor. The ceremony over, they come forward a few at a time to congratulate the bride and groom, a local string ensemble plays while Minnie and a couple of ladies from church or the neighborhood who volunteered for the occasion go around the room and offer the guests punch and cake. (All this is just a guess, which perhaps Tom Cooksey can verify.) After the ceremony, something I know from hearing them tell the storoy, the young couple, driving Amy's black, 1935 Ford coupe convertible (with rumble seat), departed for a weekend honeymoon at the Canyon Inn at McCormick's Creek State some forty miles to the south of Crawfordsville. Now married, Amy moved out of her sister's house, and in the three years that followed, until they left for Memphis in 1942, my parents and I--born on March 12, 1940-- occupied one of the four upstairs corner bedrooms of his parent's house at 407 East Main Street.

Nathan's father, Walter, and mother, Jessie, were now living comfortable retirement in their late-seventies in the two-story, burnt-orange brick, American four-square house with dark gray slate roof and backyard cistern that Walter had built in 1909. He had been a managing partner of the Barnhill, Hornaday, and Pickett general store in downtown Crawfordsville, three blocks to the west of the house on Main Street. He and his brother-in-law, Louis Hornaday, had had the good fortune to sell the store prior to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and Walter still owned a small farm on the Lebanon road to the east of Crawfordsville near Smartsburg. Amy did not go back to teaching after becoming Mrs. Pickett; and Nathan, now a young father, began looking for a profession that would support his family. He had hoped to go to medical school, but with the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression that followed through the decade, his parents could not afford the expense. He found a clerical job at the municipal building, where he was working on the day he saw his wife and two-year-old, blonde-headed son came up the sidewalk to greet him on Vernon Court. Tom Cooksey, deciding to travel rather than attend college, had always enjoyed writing, and was able to find an editorial job on the Watseka, Illinois newspaper. Mary Anne, my sister, was born, in Culver Hospital in Crawfordsville, on August 10, 1943. Uncle Doc was the attending physician.

My parents accepted Tom and Florence's offer that I stay for a week with them in Watseka, my first time overnight away from my parents. As soon as mother was able to travel, which in those days was often two weeks, she and dad bundled their young family into her Ford convertible, packed the rumble seat with suitcases, and in the late summer of 1943 departed Crawfordsville on the highway south to through Indiana and Kentucky to Tennessee--this time to Oak Ridge and the top secret Manhattan Project military reservation near Knoxville where my father, newly licensed as a doctor of optometry, had accepted a position as director of industrial optometry. The following year, Tom Cooksey received his draft notice and, after army basic training, shipped to Europe. He arrived in Europe as a replacement for the 2nd armored division, just in time for the winter fighting in Belgium. World War II now involved in different ways the participation of both the young Picketts (who had no idea what was going on at their new location in the hills of Tennessee, only that it had something to do with the war effort and seemed pretty exciting) and, in a much more direct fashion, the young Cookseys.

Notes for Bill Pickett (in response to your article, Memories of Minnie and Uncle Doc Cooksey: Growing Up in Crawfordsville) from Thomas L. Cooksey, Jr. January 2009 Liz taped the following on a mini-cassette recorder. On occasion, Tom lapsed into a bit of inaudibility. I did my best with the transcription: --------- Tom: The Coca-Cola processing plant was owned by Robert E. Vaughn, who was a coach at Wabash College. He had gone to Notre Dame, where he was a star player. The plant was a power company before it was a Coca-Cola plant. They made electricity for the [morehead?] that ran the street cars - and not only the street cars for Crawfordsville (which had one trolley car), but also cars that ran to Indianapolis - the THI & E - Terra Haute and Indianapolis Railroad. And it was all ruined by [inaudible] that put the thing into bankruptcy. When I was a boy I used to sleep in there at night. I slept on a hard bench near the door, [where it was?] making a loud noise. And lightning would strike at times, and [go] backwards, and the man who was in charge would have to do something to the machines. While I was asleep. And then, during the daytime, we had all the equipment - and we had garden hoes, including ones with sharp points. And the man's name was Timmons. Mr. Timmons. And I visited his home in Crawfordsville, on [inaudible] street, and he had a son, who was bigger than I was, who was interested in what was going on. Liz: When you were in there sleeping, were your parents worried about you? Tom: No. They maybe were worried about me, but they didn't know where I was. Liz: Even though it was night?! Tom: Even though it was night. It wasn't like most parents. Punk Johnson, who's a two-star general now, in the Air Force, couldn't turn around without his mother knowing where he was going. Or do anything. But I had the most freedom of anyone in Crawfordsville. Liz: Do you think that was - did you appreciate that, or do you wish you'd had a little bit more oversight? Tom: Well, there was nobody at home. Sometimes I would come home and there was nobody at home, and I'd go to bed, and there wasn't anybody there. First [I'd be hearing?] a noise, and I was afraid of burglars. We had side windows, and they went to the basement (we had a basement). Coal bins, and I was always afraid we'd be burglarized. And every night I'd say my prayers . And I was afraid the house would catch on fire. The Monon Railway carried Indiana limestone. It went from Chicago to Lafayette to Louisville, Kentucky, but it went through southern Indiana, picked up limestone, and took it to French Lick, which was famous for Pluto water. It was a laxative. People took Pluto water as a laxative. Even doctors took it. Dr. Cooksey took Pluto water at times. We had Pluto water at home. Liz: Do you think it was like Milk of Magnesia? Tom: It was better than Milk of Magnesia. It was clear water. Liz: I wonder why they quit making it? Tom: They don't quit making it. They still have it all over. All over the United States. In different places. In Brazil, Indiana - not Brazil, but down that way, in southern Indiana, there was a Pluto water in a swimming pool. You could go swimming in it. And you could drink it. And that's also where a famous news writer of the war. The best writer going, was from the Brazil area - where they had the Pluto water. Liz: Was this the First World War, or the Second World War? Tom: Second World War! He was the very best news writer going. And he was buried in the cemetery in Hawaii. You know what the name of it is. Liz: You know, I don't! Tom: Oh, hell you do! It's well known, well known, well known! . . . Liz: Bill had a specific question about your mother's education. You were talking about Austin? Tom: Yeah, University of Texas. She went to the University of Texas, I think. I don't know if she did. I don't know whether she did or didn't. Liz: Do you remember her talking about the Great Books program? Tom: Yes, she liked that, and she hated it 'cause Dick Ristine headed the whole thing. And she hated it when he went [up to?] the college [Wabash] - he didn't like Great Books, and she hated that. That Dick was that way. She could get any books out of the college library, which was next door to where [Bessie Strivik] had the College Inn, and where I boarded. And she [Mrs. Strivik] used to be a cook at the Sigma Phi house years ago. . . . I was the caddymaster at Crawfordsville Country Club. Leroy Rollison was the caddymaster and he took a job down in Indianapolis because of a girl whose father worked for New York Central Railroad, and one of the fellows who worked at the Indianapolis Star, later on, was publisher... His father was a conductor on the New York Central train... Liz: You were telling me yesterday about how hard it was to manage the younger caddies? Tom: Yes. One of the bigger ones wanted to throw me into the cold pool. The main swimming pool was a huge big swimming pool, but before the main pool was two cold pools. They were very cold. In fact, Dick Ristine was, one time years ago, was in charge of swimming - was a lifeguard ... Liz: You were talking yesterday about ice? Tom: Yes, in Fort Wayne they had an ice storm every spring. Electricity wouldn't work. I thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to live in a place like California!" Well, I used to take a magazine called Editor and Publisher, and they used to run ads, and they ran an ad - [here he tells how he got the jobs in California that led to his position in Santa Barbara]. He also mentioned that "Uncle Doc" was a left-handed golfer, and for baseball. He used his right hand for most other activities. He often interrupted my reading to tell me something that you actually had written about in the sentence or two following the interruption, so a lot of what he said off-tape was material you know about already. (And I realize you may know all of the above, too, but thought you might enjoy reading his own words.) Ellipses indicate places where he got off-topic completely, or where we were interrupted by nurse visitations, etc.

Source: The Political Graveyard

Cooksey, Thomas L. (b. 1870) of Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Ind. Born in Brookville, Franklin County, Ind., November 9, 1870. Physician; mayor of Crawfordsville, Ind., 1929-33, 1939-44. Christian. Member, Eagles; Elks. Burial location unknown.

Source: Crawfordsville Journal Review 7-Mar-1963 p. 1

Death Takes Dr. Cooksey- Resident Here Since ’13, Mayor 3 Terms- Dr. Thomas L. Cooksey, former three term-mayor of this city, died at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at his home 205 Marshall St. A resident of Crawfordsville since 1913, he was born Nov. 9, 1870, at Brookville, Ind., the son of Isaac M. and Sarah Milbourne Cooksey. He had a sister and a half-brother who preceded him in death. When four years old he moved with his parents to a farm near Brookville where he grew to manhood. After his early schooling he attended Butler College and Transylvania he began preaching at North Madison, Ind. Later he took a pastorate in the Christian Church at Howard Lake, Minn. He was married to Florence Johnson while living in Minnesota. He also held pastorates at Paulding, Ohio and Fort Wayne. In addition to dividing preaching duties at Fort Wayne and Melrose, Ohio, he attended the Fort Wayne College of Medicine for a year. He later went to Cincinnati where he enrolled at Miami Medical College, now part of the University of Cincinnati. He completed his medical course and took the M. D. Degree on April 1, 1897. Dr. Cooksey began the practice of medicine at Fairfield, Ind., in 1897. He later moved to Wilmington, Ohio, where he practiced for seven years. While at Wilmington he became a surgeon for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He also was active in the Medical Society and the Commercial Club (C. of C.) while in the Ohio city, serving as secretary of both organizations. Shelving his career as a physician temporarily, in 1905 he embarked into the evangelical and lecture fields, holding meetings at Indianapolis, Shreveport, La., Coffyville, Kan., Joplin, Mo., and in various Texas communities. Leaving the lecturing and Chautauqua circuits in 1912, he returned to the practice of medicine at Crawfordsville in 1913. On Feb. 24, 1914, he was married to Miss Minnie Beatty at Hico, Tex. She survives. Dr. Cooksey was occupied with many community interests and responsibility in addition to taking care of a large medical practice during his residence here. He served as county health officer of Montgomery for eight years, served as secretary of the county medical societies, serviced as county chairman of the Republican Party for four years, served as mayor of Crawfordsville for three terms on and off from 1930 to 1947 and served as city councilman at large on the City Council from 1952 to 1955. Two of Dr. Cooksey’s terms as mayor were for five years, the first long term being when an election was skipped during the depression and the second during World War II. Dr. Cooksey was president of the Municipal League of Indiana during his tenure as mayor of Crawfordsville. He was instrumental in pushing the completion and construction of the City Hall and the municipal golf course as well as helping see that Crawfordsville had the finest streets available while maintaining a debt-free municipal light plant which made it possible for the city to have low electric bills and reduced taxes through its profits. Survivors, in addition to the widow, include two daughters, Mrs. Iris C. Milbourn and Mrs. Esther Costa, both of Washington, D. C., and one son, Thomas L. Cooksey Jr., Santa Barbara, Calif. The deceased was a member of the First Christian Church and was affiliated with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Loyal Order of Moose, the Tribe of Ben Hur and the Patriotic Order, Sons of America. Funeral services are announced for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Hunt & Son Funeral Home, with Rev. Eugene Ogrod officiating and interment in Oak Hill Cemetery. Friends may call after 11 a.m. Friday at the funeral home.

Source: Lafayette Journal and Courier Mon 18 Sept 1933 p 2
Crawfordsville – Mayor Thomas L. Cooksey, chairman of the local NRA (National Retailers Association) committee has announced the personnel of a county compliance board as follows: Harry Freedman, chairman; Herbert Ellis, employee in industry; Charles Oakley, employee in retail merchandising; Raymond H. Allen, employer in industry; Leslie Burroughs, employer in retail merchandising; Rev. MV Oggel, consumers, and Walter Spencer, attorney. The board will receive complaints and handle other NRA matters.

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