Grandchildren, Great-grandchildren and Great-great-grandchildren of Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague Cooke: Here they are, your first ancestors in Hawaii, as they revealed themselves in their voluminous letters and journals. What they penned was meant for their contemporaries, but so vividly are their personalities carried across the years by the faded ink on the yellowed paper that their associates cannot have known them much better than we can know them from these writings….(Richards, 20)
So begins the story of Amos and Juliette Cooke, missionaries to Hawaii from 1837. Oddly enough, they were both from New England, where I grew up. They were my great-great-great (...) grandparents.
These are a few excerpts from a book about their lives: "Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague Cooke-Their Autobiographies Gleaned from their Journals and Letters." By their granddaughter, Mary Atherton Richards. First printed in 1941. Reprinted by The Daughters of Hawaii in 1987; Honolulu, Hawaii.
From young Amos Starr Cooke's journal:
The American Tract Society is sending out circulars asking for $30,000 to aid in the distribution of tracts among the different missionary stations. I feel the call of God, ‘Go work in my Vineyard.’ May I reply as did the son who said, ‘ I go, Sir,’ and not like him and break my promise.’ (26)
Today I have finished the Gospel of Matt. in Greek. (27) :)
Danbury, Sat, Oct.10th/35
It is just 5 years ago today since I joined the church and partook of the communion. I was then seventeen years old. Tomorrow there is to be a Mr.Ruggles here to preach. He is a returning missionary from the Sandwich Islands. (27)
As Amos prepared to go, he pondered his marital status and asked some others for advice.
I have almost come to the conclusion that it is my duty to go alone. If you know of anyone you can recommend, and think I had better make further effort, I will go and see her. I feel desirous of taking one, if a suitable one can be had…(40)
A recommendation was made, and Amos went to investigate.
Springfield, Mass. Tuesday, Sept.20th
Sunday visited sick persons with Mr.Brown.
Monday morning, soon after prayers, the object of my visit there was made known to Miss Montague, and we were together about two hours. We arranged to correspond upon the all important subject. She is willing to go to the heathen, and it may be she is the one God has designed for me. This morning I said but a few words to her. She appears solemn and will probably be much agitated until she hears from me. I have been very well pleased with her. She appears very, very modest, which is ‘a quality that highly adorns a woman.’ (46-47)
Amos also requested that people acquainted with Juliette give their recommendations regarding her character.
From a letter received Oct. 24th, 1836
In relation to her education, she is in a measure self-taught, but well taught. In my opinion, she has the right kind of an education for a missionary. She is not only an apt but a pleasant teacher. So far as we can judge, she has a sweet natural disposition. Her domestic qualifications are all suited for such a station. She is a good tailoress and dressmaker. She has not been brought up in the Parlour merely, but is acquainted with every part of the house. She is remarkable for the improvement of her time and has a heart to do good. She has a full share of common sense to discover the best way and time to do good to others. She is happy in securing the confidence of others and likewise in retaining that confidence when gained. Her influence on others, I should judge to be good. And lastly, her Christian character stands (so far as I can judge) untarnished. In a word, I think she will make a good missionary for almost any man or Society, and should she be pleased with Mr.Cooke, so as to accept of him as a companion in the field of Missions, I think she will not disgrace the cause. (52)
Juliette's acceptance of the proposal...
...You said that I might rely on the strength of your affection and I think that you may anticipate from me a return of the same, for you know Young says, ‘Love begets love.’
If I stop to correct this, it will not be in time to go this morning. You will perhaps find some things in me which may not be agreeable, if so, do not hesitate to correct them, I mean tell me of them and I will endeavor to correct them, as it will be my object to render your domestic life pleasant, profitable, and happy.
Forget me not at the throne of grace. Oh, pray that I may not dishonor the cause. Pray that I may have grace in the trying parting hour-and in the hour which may unite our destinies for life.
Yours, Juliette Montague. (50)
They were soon married and prepared to set sail on their missionary endeavors.
At 5 o’clock this afternoon I was formally united in marriage to Miss Juliette Montague. The transaction, though solemn, was cheerfully entered into. ‘What has been done upon earth, do Thou ratify in heaven.’ (56)
To be continued….