Archival Research
1881 Apparent Death of A Newborn? – Isaac Burdett COOK and Sarah Ann (PRICHARD) COOK
1881 Apparent Death of A Newborn? – Isaac Burdett COOK and Sarah Ann (PRICHARD) COOK

Government records can appear, on their face, sterile, statistical and indifferent to the human lives they document.  Last evening, I was looking through Michigan Births, 1867-1902 on the beta records site for and located some original birth records for several people on my “hit list.”  In the process, I came across a record for a person not on my list.  Well, the newborn’s parents are my second-great-grandparents, Isaac Burdett Cook and Sarah Ann (Prichard) Cook.  On 26 August 1881, Sarah had a baby girl in Ohio, apparently while away from their Michigan home.  As one can see from the attached scan of the original pages, the birth of “not known Cook” has been struck from the record.  Of course, I do not have an 1890 Census record to determine how many children Sarah birthed compared to how many survived. I am assuming this strike-through means that the child did not live long and was not even named.  Why was the baby girl entered into the Michigan record? Would the baby have been full term?  Under what circumstances would miscarriages be entered into government birth records? Can it be assumed Sarah needed to see a doctor upon her return to Michigan from Ohio and the doctor was obligated to make a record of the birth?  Isaac was listed as “widowed” in the 1900 Census, indicating Sarah was dead before June 1, 1900 (after June 7, 1888 with the birth of their last known child).  The marks on this page raise a number of procedural questions about records of births in Michigan.  But there are a number of other questions that are raised about family grief and losing a newborn while away from home.

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One Response

  1. Bobby Cook says:

    I hope you can help me.

    Do you have any more info on the Cook line? Also anything on Wilson?

    Everyone thinks I’m Irish because I have red hair and freckles. I have always wondered why all I and my siblings and both my parents have this bump on the back of our sculls like a black person’s only to recently hear about a family link with a mysterious line of Americans. I have been told this line of people often had this bump and were called Melungeons. I am fair skinned but all my siblings have very dark elbows, knees and (lol) nipples. Both of my father’s parents had black corse hair and beautiful blue eyes. Grandpa was much darker than most black men and my grandma’s mother was just as dark both being from the very isolated hills of eastern Kentucky. The story was that great grandma was “Indian blood”. Grandpa said he was decended from Portuguese, native American, and something called “Black Dutch”. My mother’s father had a mysterious antique photo of an ancestor who was very dark skinned which was explained as “Indian” by my grandfather but the man in the photo had very european features. He would not explain any further. My grandfather’s sir-name was Cook and my Grandmother’s maiden name was Wilson.

    Attached is a photo of my dad’s parents.

    Is there any programs that are doing DNA testing that I can be involved in? Your help is very appreciated.


    Bobby Cook

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