1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 William O. Cooke Records

 Lumber dealer, of Providence, R.I.

 Records, 1851-1860

 Size: .75 ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 1125

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, August 2003

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            William Oscar Cooke (1822-1893) was born in Glocester, R.I., the ninth of ten children of William and Betsey (Burgess) Cooke. By 1850, he arrived in Providence and went into business as a carpenter and lumber dealer on the western end of High Street (now Westminster Street, west of downtown). His formal account books began in 1851, and by 1854 he was apparently devoting all of his focus to lumber sales. He was assisted in his business by his younger brother Amos W. Cooke (b.1824). The business was apparently reformed with new partners in 1858, although W.O. Cooke was still a lumber dealer in Providence as late as 1860. He later moved west, residing in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago over the next thirty years. He died in Chicago on October 3, 1893, and was buried in Foster, R.I.

            Cooke married first to Ada M. --- (c1827-1861), by whom he had at least two surviving children: Byron S. (1851-1916) and Charles A. (b. after 1860, d.1918). His second wife was Celeste Moore (1828-1914)



Bayles, Richard M., ed. History of Providence County, 616. New York: W.W. Preston, 1891.

Cooke, H. Ruth. "The Cookes of Rhode Island: Descendants of Walter Cooke of Weymouth, Massachusetts, 1643-1870." Newspaper columns initially published circa 1910, and reprinted by Barbara Saabye of Falmouth, Mass., 1999.

Funeral notice, Providence Journal, October 13, 1893

Providence city directories, 1850-1860

Rhode Island vital records

1860 U.S. Census, Rhode Island, Providence Ward 6, page 257

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists of two ledgers dating 1851 to 1857, and a daybook from 1854 to 1855, as well as twenty loose orders from 1857 to 1859. The ledgers are arranged by customer and indexed in the front of each volume. They show the amounts of each transaction but give no detail regarding what was purchased. The daybook gives the detail of what was purchased, but only covers sixteen months. It is unindexed, but matches up with part of ledger #2. House historians working within that narrow window from 1854 to 1855 can use these account books to learn the quantity and type of lumber each customer bought.

            A third ledger covering from 1857 to 1860 was purchased with the other volumes, but was found to have severe mold damage through most of the volume. As it did not have a corresponding day book, its information was also of very limited use. The index was saved to serve as a list of customers for this period, and the remainder of the volume was discarded. The first entry was on April 1 1857, and the last entry began on July 15 1858. Other sales entries were recorded as late as August 26 1858. While most of the accounts were closed in 1858, some payments were recorded in 1859, and one was received on January 14 1860. Some entries were noted "see new ledger" although this volume was never filled, suggesting that the business continued in some form with a new set of account books, possibly under a new partnership.

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            These records were purchased from Mrs. Hudson's Fine Books and Paper in 2003.


Box 1, folder 1. Ledger, 1851-1853

Box 1, folder 2. Ledger, 1853-1857

Box 1, folder 3. Ledger index, 1857-1860

Box 1, folder 4. Loose orders, 1857-1859

Oversized volume. Daybook, May 16 1854 to September 1 1855

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Historic buildings - Rhode Island - Providence.

Lumber trade - Rhode Island - Providence.

Providence (R.I.) - Commerce.

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