CUDMORE: Grandfather married 2 women named Margaret


My grandfather was Randall storekeeper Yates Cook. The morning of March 12, 1908 his first wife Margaret, 52, took the West Shore Railroad train from Randall to Fultonville. Margaret planned to do some shopping and visiting in Fultonville and was expected that night for a party at her sister’s home in Sprakers.

After exiting the train, Margaret Cook walked down the south side of the tracks to the crossing, where she started to cross the tracks toward the business center of the village, unmindful of the approach of a west bound freight, running at an estimated 30 miles per hour.

Flagman Myndert Quackenbush declared he warned Mrs. Cook. His warning was unheard or ignored and she was struck, dragged and killed by the train.

A horse attached to an America’s Express sleigh standing at the depot became frightened by the accident and ran away, scattering a load of packages.

Yates Cook, 57, brought a lawsuit a month later. He had connections. His brother Willet Cook had owned the Canajoharie Courier newspaper.

Thirteen months later Yates married another woman named Margaret. Margaret Wright Haas, 19 years younger than Yates, was living where her parents John and Sally (Moon) Wright raised her in Chichester, N.Y., 80 miles from Randall in the Catskills.

Margaret previously had married and lived in Brooklyn where her husband was a carpenter. The family story was that her husband tried to kill her and they divorced. The husband went to a mental institution and Margaret returned to Chichester with her son Harry Haas.

Yates apparently had a son from his first marriage who later drowned. After Yates and Margaret Haas married in 1909 at a Methodist Church in Phoenicia, N.Y., they had three children. Jane was born in 1910, Yates Jr. in 1912 and Julia, my mother, in 1913.

In October 1915 storekeeper Yates was harnessing his horses and wagon when, according to the Gloversville Herald, he died of a “ruptured blood vessel.” Yates was a church member and pillar of the community. There was a big turnout at his funeral.

Margaret, also known as Maggie, now had the responsibility of raising four children from her two marriages. Her older daughter, Jane, worked to help her mother. Yates Jr. was subject to seizures.

In World War I, Margaret earned money by feeding soldiers who protected Lock 13 in Randall on the Mohawk River/Barge Canal from saboteurs.

She had a photo album made by one of those soldiers. The captions use the word “cook” to describe her: Cook and the Midnight Mechanic, Cook and the Loafer and The Roughneck and the Cook. My mother’s photo caption is: Julia — the queen of Randall.

One of my grandmother’s “boys” is identified in the “Saturday Globe” newspaper dated November 22, 1917. The article quotes Private William J. Allen of Fonda, a member of Company C, Second Regiment, New York Infantry.

“Private Allen writes that Mrs. Cook is a widow with three small children. She has been cook for the boys at Yosts since the war broke out and 14 of ‘her boys’ are in France and seven more are in training camps. She has mothered them all and the boys look to her for smiles and other necessities as well as for their meals.”

When the war ended, Margaret and her children moved to Amsterdam where she ran a boarding house for mill workers at 107 Forbes Street in the East End.

She lived with us in Amsterdam when I was young and often made me bread and jam sandwiches before I went to bed. She died in 1953 at age 80.

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