A Guide to the Cooke (William G.) Family Papers, 1839-1845, 1860-1950.
William Gordon Cooke (1808–1847), son of Adam and Martha (Riddell) Cooke, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia. While a druggist in New Orleans, Louisiana, Cooke volunteered for the New Orleans Greys in 1835 to fight in the Texas Revolution. He rose to the rank of Captain and participated in the siege of Bexar (1835) and the Matamoros Expedition (1835-1836). After joining Samuel Houston's staff as assistant inspector general, Cooke fought in the battle of San Jacinto and afterward commanded the guard of Mexican prisoners, including General Antonio López de Santa Anna. After the war, Houston appointed Cooke acting Secretary of War of the new republic in 1836 and Inspector General a year later. He was also the official signer of the president's name to government documents, due to injuries to Houston's arm. In 1838, Cooke was commissioned as quartermaster general and later Colonel of the First Regiment of Infantry. In 1841, he refused a nomination for vice president. Cooke married Ángela María de Jesús Blasa Navarro in 1844, and had one son. After running unsuccessfully for the United States Congress in 1846, Cooke was appointed the first adjutant general of the state of Texas and served this post until his death.
Numerous descendents of William G. Cooke served in the United States military during wartime, including William B. Cooke and Gordon L. Cooke (Spanish-American War), and Reiley J. Cooke (World War I). Brothers Audrey, Marvin, and Weldon Cooke, from Wichita Falls, Texas, all served as pilots during World War II. Audrey S. Cooke, a pilot in the Royal Air Force Eagle Squadron, was killed in action during a bombing raid over Berlin in 1943.
Source: Steven A. Brownrigg, “Cooke, William Gordon,” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed on March 18, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcobv.
Personal correspondence, legal documents, newspaper clippings, and photographs comprise the William G. Cooke Papers, 1839-1845, 1860-1950, documenting the life of Cooke and the military service of his descendents during the Spanish-American War and World War II. Correspondence includes a letter from William G. Cooke to his brother (1839) describing the siege of Bexar. Photographs portray Audrey, Marvin, and Weldon Cooke during World War II, while newspaper clippings concern family announcements, particularly Audrey Cooke’s death and burial. Additionally, the collection includes Audrey Cooke’s ID bracelet and pilot wings, photocopies of a French passport (1860) and oath of allegiance to the United States (1860) belonging to Victor Hug, a family member who immigrated to Texas from France.
This collection is open for research use.
William G. Cooke Family Papers, 1839-1845, 1860-1950, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by archives staff, 1988.
Subsequent revisions were made by Evan Usler, March, April, July 2011.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers