Joseph Witherspoon Cook.

Diary and letters of the Reverend Joseph W. Cook : missionary to Cheyenne online

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Reverend Joseph W. Cook




Reverend Joseph W. Cook








Missionary, 1868-1870


While acting as special preacher at the noonday
service in Minneapolis, Minn., during the Lenten
season of 1916, it was my good fortune to meet Miss
Charlotte Everett Cook, daughter of the Rev.
Joseph W. Cook, first resident missionary in Chey-
enne and founder of the Church therein.

As a result of the meeting, Miss Cook presented
me with what I suspect will prove to be the most
valuable historical document relating to the early
history of Cheyenne now in existence. It consists
of a small quarto copy book of some 120 pages, in
which is neatly written, in his own hand, the copy
of his letters to Bishops Clarkson and Randall, re-
lating to the condition of things in Cheyenne during
the years 1868 and 1869. The interesting con-
troversy between Mr. Cook and Bishop Randall, as
to the proper jurisdiction in which Wyoming in
general and Cheyenne in particular was located,
arose from the fact that in the general convention
of the Church held in Philadelphia in 1865,
Bishop Randall had been elected to the Bishopric
of Colorado, W T yoming and New Mexico. He was
subsequently consecrated on December 28, 1865, and
went to Denver to take up his duties from that
point. On reaching Denver, he found that, owing
to some failure on the part of Congress to make
appropriation for its expenses, the territory of Wyo-
ming had no existence in fact ; therefore, still be-
longed to the territory of Dakota, from which it


was to have been set off. Bishop Clarkson had
been elected as Bishop of Nebraska and Dakota,
and as such presumed that his jurisdiction extended
over what was to be the territory of Wyoming until
such time as the new territory to be known as Wyo-
ming became an accomplished fact.

The interesting considerations of a personal na-
ture set forth in the letters are unfortunately one-
sided, as the letters of Bishop Randall and Bishop
Clarkson, if still existing, have not as yet come to

Mr. Cook not only copied his more important
letters, but he kept a diary as well. That portion of
his diary relating to his sojourn in Cheyenne prior to
his departure to Dakota, where he passed the re-
mander of his life as a missionary to the Sioux,
his daughter most kindly has had copied and sent
to me. In publishing it herewith, in connection with
these letters, it seemed fitting to publish the diary
as it was written and to insert the leters under the
appropriate date, so that the letter when read should
be preceded with its historical setting.

In addition to these letters of Mr. Cook, I have
added as an appendix two letters of his contempo-
rary at Laramie, the Rev. John Cornell, who is still
living, and this interesting correspondence dovetails
admirably into the diary and letters. Taken to-
gether, they form the one first-hand written docu-
ments of the origin of the Church in Wyoming now
known to me.

The subject matter contained in the volumn has
already appeared serially in THE: WYOMING
CHURCHMAN during the years 1917 and 1918. The
form in which the diary and letters are related to
each other constitute the only difference.


Diary of the Rev. Joseph W. Cook,
Missionary to Cheyenne, and Let-
ters to the Rt. Rev. R. H. Clarkson,
D. D., and the Rt. Rev. Geo. M.
Randall, D. D., kindly furnished by
his Daughter, Miss Charlotte Everett

MR. COOK'S DIARY, 1 868.

Jan. I4th. Crossing the dreary, desolate plains,
stretching on every side far beyond the reach of
human vision ; mottled with black from the annual
burning of the grass ; a tree seen once only in many
miles until we came to Pine Bluffs, and then only
scattered thinly over the hills ; seldom a habita-
tion except the stations about every twenty miles.
The vind blew) hard and cold all day. Talked con-
siderable to three Blue Noses who were going out
to the mines to seek their fortunes. There was but
one female on the train, and she only a part of the
way. Arrived in Cheyenne about 7:00 o'clock and
finding Mr. Chas. Sherman's quarters at the bank,
proceeded there forthwith. Was not in. But Mr.
Berger, his associate, received me kindly, and I
waited :or him. When he returned I delivered my
letter from Bishop Clarkson and received a very
kind and pleasant welcome. He begged me to cast
in my lot wiith him here, as he had an empty bed. I


was very glad indeed, and highly appreciated his

Jan. isth. Took boarding at Ford's saloon op-
posite at $15.00 per week. After breakfast walked
out to view the place, and was amazed at what had
been accomplished in five months! It is wonderful.
The air was quite cold, but I found that I did not
suffer from it as in the east, but that on the con-
trary it was delightful. Went to a house to inquire
the way to the fort, and I stumbled upon a church-
woman, Mrs. Morrow, who was rejoiced to see
clergyman of the church. Sat and talked with he
for a good while, and did not go to the fort, as it
some distance off and it was late.

Jan. i6th. Wrote long letter to Bishop Clar|t-
son giving an account of my trip and misfortune In
the matter of the pocket-book, and my first impr^s-
sion of Cheyenne. Delivered my letter to Mr. Re^d,
engineer of construction on U. P. R. R., and he give
me a hearty, kindly welcome. Took box of roots
and plants which I brought with me to ask Mrs.
Morrow to store them in her cellar. Called on Jirs.
Street, whom I found a baptized member of the
Church, also Mrs. Halliday, a communicant/ and
her mother.

Jan. 1 7th. Called on Mr. Whitehead's fimily.
Found that gentleman away, but his sister-in-law
received me kindly and claims to be a churchWoman.
One of the most charming winter days I eVer ex-
perienced. An overcoat was superfluous, aid yet
the little snow and ice in the streets melted put lit-
tle. Mr. Reed kindly invited me down to anoke a
cigar, and I had a good deal of a talk with him
about the prospects of the Church, and also about
Cheyenne and the railroad. Invited me to so to the
end of the line with him tomorrow, but wad obliged

to decline on account of necessity of preparing some-
thing for Sunday. We have been in a crowded
state at the bank for the last two nights. No less
than seven of us ! Four in beds, one on lounge and
twb on the floor. Of course, it was impossible to
accomplish anything, and even devotions were al-
most impossible. Mr. Reed kindly invited me to
make use of his quarters to do my literary work in,
which I gratefully accepted. Mr. Berger asked me
if I would like to take a look at what w;as to be
seen here. I intimated that I would, and so he con-
ducted me through the great gambling hell opposite,
which was crow'ded with poor simple souls selling
themselves to the devil. It made my heart ache to
see them so earnest in their destruction. We
went also to the museum, but I saw nothing out of
the wlay there until he directed me to a stereoscope
in one corner, where upon one turn I found obscene
and lascivious pictures, and there stood a man (?)
feasting his eyes upon them !



Friday, Jan. I7th, 1868.
Right Rev. R. H. Clarkson.

MY DEAR BISHOP : I started from Philadelphia
on New Year's night after having had the misfortune
to lose my pocket-book on my way to the depot.
I think from the circumstances it could not have
been picked, but that it fell out of my pocket and
was picked up by the conductor of the street car.
I went to the office and made every effort to discover
it, but, of course, the conductor knew nothing of it.
There was about $150 in it. My kind friend, Mr.
Fallen, said he would take further measures for re -
covering it, and as I had a ticket to Cincinnati and

had left $20 with his son to pay a balance on a tail-
or's bill, he advised me to take that and go on, and
if the pocket-book was not recovered by the time I
left Ohio, to obtain funds from my cousin in Cin-
cinnati. So I came west on the next train. I spent
the second Sunday after Christmas in Springfield,
O., and then went on to Cincinnati. There was no
news of the pocket-book, and so I borrowed $100
from Mr. Hamlin and started west. I reached Chi-
cago on Thursday the Qth inst. Presented your let-
ter to Mr. Dunlap at his house where I was re-
ceived with the utmost kindness, and very agree-
ably entertained, as they urged me to stay until the
night train. Mr. Dunlap gave me a pass to Omaha.
I arrived in Omaha on Saturday, nth inst. and
presented your letter to the rector. Mr. Redick in-
vited me to take up my quarters with him, which I
did. I remained in Omaha over Sunday and as-
sisted the rector at morning prayer and again in the
evening, and preached. Also assisted Mr. Tongue
at the mission and preached. On Monday evening I
bade adieu to Omaha and entered upon the last stage
of my journey, for which Mr. Van Antwerp very
readily obtained me a pass. A snow storm had been
raging all day in Omaha, and we were somewhat
fearful of being snowed up on the plains. But the
snow grew less and less as we progressed until on
this side there was scarcely any to be seen. I
reached here in safety on Tuesday evening and wtas
asked to take a seat in a "buss" for the "only first
class hotel in the city." I was landed at the Rollins
House, and on entering the place found myself in
a billiard room with a large and glittering bar on
one side. I ascertaned the whereabouts of Mr.
Sherman, which was close by, and proceeded at
once to his quarters in the bank and presented your

letter. He received me very kindly and begged me
to take up my quarters with him as he had an extra
bed. There are twio others in the bank. Besides the
large office there is a small sitting room in the rear,
and a small bed room with two beds. This is the
headquarters of quite a number of persons, and of
course very little quiet can possibly be obtained in
any part of the place. Last night, e. g., there were
no less than seven of us, four in bed and three
upon the floor. At present I am taking my meals
at a restaurant at the rate of $15 per week for
"square meals." I am told that a room with a fire
at the hotels, together with board, cannot be obtained
at less than $26 per week. At present I suppose I
cannot do better. But, it may be, after I have
got somewhat better acquainted, that I may be
able to find some little nook where I may be able
to study and write with some comfort. Had I the
money I would put up a little house and bring my
sister out, for I think that we can keep house cheap-
er than 1 can board. I presented your letter to Mr.
Reed and found him very pleasant and seemingly
very glad to see me and much interested in our
church project. And now as to those matters I will
try to give you my first view of the situation. Mr.
Reed told me he has secured two lots for the church
in a very good situation, on the school block. I have
discovered several communicants of the Church and
quite a number who are nominally church people
and attached to our worship. All seem delighted to
see me and rejoice that something is to be done to
affect the terrible state of things in this worst of
all places under the sun. Mr. Reed was to have
met Mr. Sherman and myself yesterday to talk over
matters and to take steps towlard providing a place
for our services. But he did not come. I met Dr.


Scott, the Methodist local preacher, and he informed
me that he has the use of the city hall on Sunday
afternoons and evenings. And that he had left the
mornings open, thinking someone would be along
shortly with some other kind of service. He is
engaged in a thriving business in the canned fruit
and furniture line, and cannot pursue both business
and preaching, and so expects some regular preacher
here after a while. There is a nice school house
here already finished but the carpenters have a lien
on the buildings and will not allow it to be used for
anything until it is cleared. The Methodists in-
formed me that they had engaged it for services as
soon as it can be released. Mr. Sherman has just
informed me that he and Mr. Reed met and talked
some over matters last night, and that they are of
opinion that the school house may be bought, and
he expects to inquire into it today. It would be very
well adapted to our purposes for the present. I will
write you again shortly and let you know the state
of the case. I sent through by express my books,
making a moderate sized box, and two trunks filled
wjith bed clothing, etc. I have received the bill from
Wells Fargo & Co., and the amount is $94 ! It is an
outrageous bill, and I have not the means to release
the goods. The husband of one of our communi-
cants, Mr. Morrow, is in their office here, and he
may be able to get some reduction. I have not yet
seen him as he has been absent. But I fear the
reduction will be small.

I think there are somewhere about four thousand
people here. The amount that has been done here
is wonderful, and the activity of the place is sur-
prising, and the wickedness is unimaginable and ap-
palling. This is the great centre for gamblers of all
shades, and roughs, and troops of lewd women, and


bull-whackers. Almost every other house is a
drinking saloon, gambling house, restaurant, dance
house or bawdy. In the east, as a general thing, vice
is obliged in some measure to keep somewhat in the
dark, and a cloak of refinement is thrown over it.
But here all is open and above board, and the eyes
and ears are assailed at every turn. Last evening
right by us here was a terrible shooting affray, and
one poor wretch was shot through the jaw and an-
other through the arm. A large wagon train came
in today, and we shall be likely to have a repetition
of last night's deeds and perhaps worse. If there
ever was a place which needed a standard lifted up
against the enemy, it is here. I feel almost power-
less in the presence of it. But I realize that I am
not sent in dependent on my own strength, but com-
missioned by the Holy Ghost and the Church of
God. I must open my commission even here, and
proclaim the Gospel of the grace of God whether
these poor souls will hear or whether they will for-
bear, and depend upon Him to bless my humble ef-
forts. You are probably aware that Rev. Mr. Tut-
tle has been transferred to the fort here. He is ex-
pected today or tomorrow. Although I should at
once have been rendered comfortable had I myself
been appointed, and the salary would have enabled
me to get well settled in preparation for the work
here, yet I doubt not it is all right. And I confess
that I feel much more comfortable and encouraged
by the fact that I have a clerical brother near upon
whom I may depend for sympathy and advice, than
though I were isolated as I feared I would be.

I am charmed with the climate here. With the
exception of those searching winds which go to the
very bone, it is delightful. -Today is one of the
most beautiful days I ever saw. The place is not

' T ^

protected from the winds as we supposed. Long's
Peak, 70 or 80 miles distant, is in sight, and the
Rocky range glittering white with snow in the clear
sunshine. We seem to be still on the plains, al-
though at a very high elevation. I don't believe
this can be an agricultural region. It probably
would be with the means of irrigation, but Crow
Creek, on which we are situated, is quite small. But
the Cache la Poudre above may do something for
us. There is not to be seen a single tree within
many miles of us.

I hope to be able to give you something more defi-
nite with reference to church matters in a few 1 days.

May God bless and prosper you, my dear Bishop,
and hasten your journey to us.

With sincere regards, yours in Jesus Christ and
his Church, JOSEPH W. COOK.

Jan. i8th. Beautiful day, but the wind made it
unpleasant to be out. Went and took possession of
Mr. Reed's* quarters and wrote sermon on I Cor.
1 1 :2. Showing what I believed St. Paul's policy
was in licentious Corinth ; and that I proposed to
follow the same course in my ministry here, viz.,
to combat sin by presenting the old truths of the
Gospel and the Church of Christ, and striving not
to be drawn aside by side issues. Mr. Sherman was
able to get the school house for our services. I put
a couple of notices in the papers announcing morn-
ing service. Spent the evening in various work.
Went to Mrs. Morrow's to ascertain whether Rev.
Mr. Tuttle, the Chaplain of the Post, had arrived.
He got there just as I was leaving. Sat and talked
with him awhile. Asked him to assist me tomorrow.

Sunday, 2nd after Epiph., Jan. I9th. Beautiful
day, and the air was delicious. Prepared for service
and went to the school house. Mr. Tuttle was


called upon to attend the funeral of a poor young
woman who died from an overdose of morphine,
and so could not be with me. Sent me his Mission
Services to use. Mr. Test brought them, and I was
glad to make his acquaintance. Begged me to go
and see him. Put on my surplice and celebrated
divine service, and preached. Seventy-five persons
present, joined in responses heartily. Was fortun-
ate in starting familiar tunes and the whole congre-
gation sang with a will. Was glad to discover some
fine voices. Several persons came to me after ser-
vice to express their pleasure, and to give me God-
speed. Headache came on after dinner and I was
quite unwell. Probably bilious from eating three
"square" meals a day. Took considerable of a
walk with Messrs. Berger, Ruth and Glover. Af-
terwards lay down upon the lounge and Mr. Ruth
came again and we talked over many points of sci-
ence and Christianity. Went to Mrs. Morrow's to
tea with Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle and spent evening in
pleasant conversation. We started for P. O. and
passing, stopped at school house a minute to see
what the Methodists were doing. Found the house
well filled, and Dr. Scott ranting. Called at Dr.
Latham's office and Mr. Tuttle introduced me to him.
After left Mr. Tuttle and called in at Messrs. Adams
and Glover's drug store and talked awhile. Sung a
great deal with Mr. Sherman today, and it has been
very pleasant.

Jan. 2Oth. Another charming day. I have never
Experienced anything like it in the East. The cli-
mate is magnificent. Mr. Reed called and asked me
to go down to this office, which I did. Sat some
time. Gave his judgment for an immediate organ-
ization of the Church here. Wrote letter to Bishop
Clarkson telling him of the progress of affairs here.

Wrote up journal. Walked with Mr. Berger and
called upon Mr. Test, Mr. Paine, and Mr. Abbott.
Dr. Alden, Post Surgeon, called on me, and told
me what he had done towards securing subscrip-
tions for the Church at Fort Russell. Found him
very agreeable. Mrs. Street called to give me an
invitation to a donation party to be given to Dr.
Scott, the Methodist local preacher. Could not
bring myself to the point to go, having such a dis-
gust for such things. Wrote letter in answer to one
from Mr. James Fuller inquiring about Cheyenne
as a place for him to establish himself.



Jan. 20th, 1868.
Rt. Rev. R. H. Clarkson, D.D.

MY DEAR BISHOP: We succeeded in obtaining
the school house for our services yesterday morn-
ing. It had been nicely cleaned, and the only dis-
comfort that w?e had was that it was yet a little
damp. The day was charming and auspicious for
the commencement of our public work here. We
did not know definitely that we could obtain the
house till the afternoon of Saturday so there was but
little time to give notice. I made a few calls and
mentioned it, and put notices in two of our daily
papers. Yet there were a great many who did not
learn of it until after the service. Rev. Mr. Tuttle
arrived on Saturday night, and I invited him to as-
sist in inaugurating the services here, which he in-
tended to do. But Mr. Rollins, keeping a hotel
here, and an old member of Mr. Tuttle's parish in
Illinois, sent to request him to officiate at the fune-
ral of a young woman who died from the effects of
an overdose of morphia. So I was alone. He how-


ever lent me his mission services (and by the way
I don't know what I shall do without some of those
services). I have about thirty prayer books, but
they are not sufficient. Since writing the above, Mr.
Tuttle has been in and informs me that for the
present he can divide with me the mission services
which he has, about 200, which wiill relieve me of
the difficulty.

There were about 75 persons present yesterday,
and they entered heartily into the services, respond-
ing well and conforming to the postures. The sing-
ing I conducted myself. I sang tunes which I sup-
posed would be familiar, and I was surprised and
delighted, for it seemed as though everyone present
joined in and sang with a will. I discovered that
there was considerable musical talent in the congre-
gation, and I have hopes of shortly forming a good
choir which, of course, will add to the interest of
the services. I preached a short sermon from i
Cor. 1 1 :2 "For I determined not to know anything
among you save Jusus Christ, and Him Crucified!'
Simply explaining what I conceived to be St. Paul's
policy in wicked, licentious Corinth, and stating the
object for which I am here, and my determination, by
the help of God, to pursue the same policy with the
Apostle, and to present the old facts of the Gospel
and the Church of Christ, believing that they are
still filled with divine energy to the pulling dowft of
the strongholds of sin, Satan and death. A number
came to me after service to welcome me and bid
me God speed.

I was invited to attend the Methodist services in
the evening, but aside from being quite unwell, which
would of itself have prevented me, I thought it best
to take that stand which would sooner or later have
to be taken, and so did not attend. Mr. Tuttle and


myself had occasion to pass the school house during
their meeting, and we found it filled respectably.
I hope during the week to obtain a place in which
to hold our Sunday school. To the surprise of my-
self and many others the city was remarkably quiet
yesterday. Many of the shops were closed, and
numbers of persons were to be seen on the streets
who had seemingly made an effort to recall some of
the associations of Sunday and civilization by chang-
ing their clothes and tidying up, and trying to enjoy
a little rest from the turmoil and excitement of the
week. The 'hurdy-gurdy at the "Museum" qeased
its daily and nightly groaning and grinding, to the
great relief of the nerves of many who have some
music in their souls, and the band which by day and
night calls multitudes of poor simple souls to the
great gambling "Hell" opposite paid respect to the
Lord's Day also.

There are a great many people here who are
either Churchmen or accustomed to our services and
in sympathy with us. I am surprised at the number
whom I have already discovered. And as is usual,
they are the more intelligent and respectable of the
population. The editors of two of the three daily
papers are nominally Churchmen, and are very kind
in offering their papers as channels of communica-
tion, to give notices, etc.

In talking with Mr. Reed this morning, he gives
his judgment for an organization at once, instead of
waiting until we have had services for a while. Mr.
Tuttle thinks he will be able to offer me a home at
his quarters as soon as he gets settled, which will
both give me a quieter place for study and writing,
and also, probably, very much reduce my expenses.
I shall be sorry to be removed out of the city about
two and a half miles but it is probably the 'best I


can do for the present in the crowded state of this
wonderful place.

I hope you will be able to come to us as soon as
you possibly can after your return to your juris-
diction. Yours in Christ and His Church,


P. S. Mr. Sherman desires me to present his re-
gards to you. I find him very kind and pleasant,
and both he and Mr. Berger, who is associated with
him in the bank, have quite prevented me from be-
coming low-spirited, and I feel greatly indebted to
them for their kindness. J. W. C.

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Online LibraryJoseph Witherspoon CookDiary and letters of the Reverend Joseph W. Cook : missionary to Cheyenne → online text (page 1 of 10)