The papers are divided into ten series: correspondence; minutes and proceedings; diaries; printed material; financial documents; photographic material; literary productions; legal documents; scrapbooks and scrapbook material; and charts, diagrams, lists, real estate plats, and maps.
Series I: Correspondence. In the correspondence series, separate subseries are established for each member of the family and for Harry A. Seawell, a business associate of Allen M. Cook. There is also a subseries for miscellaneous addresses, postcards, and stationery.
There is some interesting correspondence between Arthur Clarico Freeman II and the War Department concerning an invention Arthur wished to sell. One such letter is from Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy. The incoming and outgoing correspondence of Allen Merriam Cook concerning his Naval career covers his service record. This contains a notice on April 19, 1889, to report to the U.S. Naval Academy for an appointment examination and a letter from Josephus Daniels.
Unless otherwise noted, it should be assumed all letters are written by the individual in the subseries under which they are filed.
Series II: Minutes and Proceedings. Items of special interest in this series are the minutes and proceedings of the Princess Anne and Norfolk Mutual Building and Loan Association.
Series III: Diaries. This series includes a diary kept by Naval Cadet Allen Merriam Cook while at sea aboard the U.S.S. Newark, as required by his commanding officer, and a diary kept by Emma Freeman Cook.
Series IV: Printed Material. Of special interest in this series is a printed poem, "Old Christ Church," by Emma Blow Freeman, and a magazine, "Know the Navy and Norfolk," in which, on page 144-E, Allen Merriam Cook is profiled. Also included in this series are miscellaneous newspaper and magazine clippings, pamphlets, circulars, flyers, and programs. There are interesting references to real estate development in Norfolk and Virginia Beach among the newspaper clippings and circulars.
Series V: Financial Documents. This series contains real estate account books; miscellaneous reports, forms, and receipts; and miscellaneous handwritten notes pertaining to real estate and the Princess Anne and Norfolk Mutual Building and Loan Association.
Series VI: Photographic Material. Photographs in this series are classified under the pertinent family member. In addition, there are subseries containing photographs and negatives of miscellaneous or unknown people and places. There is a cut profile of an unknown man in subseries I. Many of the photographs have notes on the reverse identifying people or places.
Series VII: Literary Productions. This series contains drafts of various documents, both business and personal, essays, memoirs, clippings and copies of poetry, recipes, reminiscences, reports, research notes, and speeches. Of special interest are such items as a document, similar to a resume, of Arthur Clarico Freeman II, entitled, "Professional Record -Education Experience," an account of an apparently false arrest of Lizzie Freeman, a series of reports prepared by Allen Merriam Cook while in the Navy, and an evaluation by his commanding officer of Allen Merriam Cook while serving on the U.S.S. Amphitrite.
Series VIII: Legal Documents. Legal documents are divided into Allen Merriam Cook's business documents and the family's personal documents. Of special interest is a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the Princess Anne and Norfolk Mutual Building and Loan Association, and several various papers of the Princess Anne and Norfolk Mutual Building and Loan Association and the Ferndale Corporation, in which Allen Merriam Cook was also involved. Also in this series is a copy of Henry Clarico Freeman Cook's birth certificate.
Series IX: Scrapbooks and Scrapbook Material. Of special interest in this series are two scrapbooks kept by Allen Merriam Cook, filled with newspaper clippings relating to the U.S. military. This series also contains a drawing of unknown origin, signed with the initials, "G.B." The only family members with such initials were Richard Blow's son, George, or George Blow, Jr.
Series X: Artifacts. Includes the Foreign Legion cap of Allen Merriam Cook, a picture of a sailboat, international code flag cards, a picture signed by G.B., and an unidentified key.
Series XI: Charts, Lists, Diagrams, Real Estate Plats, Maps. Included in this series are various charts, diagrams of property, lists of subdivision owners, real estate plats, and miscellaneous maps of the Norfolk area, the U.S., and Europe. Included among the charts is the itinerary of Elfrieda Freeman Tice's tour of the U.S. on behalf of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The many real estate plats of the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area should be of value to anyone interested in the development of area subdivisions.
Series XII: Genealogy. Genealogical material and information compiled by Allen Merriam Cook about the Cook Family's history.
The family of Henry Clarico Freeman Cook, the donor of the Cook Family Papers, dates to several distinguished Virginians. The family traces its ancestry to Richard Blow, a dominant figure in the business life of eighteenth and nineteenth century Virginia. The papers of Richard Blow are with the Blow Family Papers in the manuscripts collection of the Library of the College of William and Mary. Richard Blow's grandson, George Blow Jr., was a Norfolk judge and a member of the state convention for Virginia's secession at the time of the Civil war. Judge George Blow and his wife, Elizabeth Taylor Allmand, settled on Boush Street in Norfolk, where their daughter, Emma, grew up. Blow Street in Norfolk is named after this family.
Emma Blow married Arthur Clarico Freeman and they had three children, Arthur II, Elizabeth Allmond ("Lizzie"), and Emma. It is this generation and their descendants which the Cook Family Papers detail.
Arthur II was born in 1878 and graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1897. His interest in engineering led him to several inventions, some of which he attempted to sell to the government during World Wars I and II. He married a woman named Elsa, of whom his family disapproved, forcing Arthur to leave Norfolk and settle in Pennsylvania. In 1924, Elsa died and Arthur returned to Norfolk with his four children. In the 1950's, Arthur carried on much correspondence with Katherine Groner Shropshire who resided in New York and later in St. Augustine, Florida. Her letters to Arthur are quite revealing; unfortunately the collection contains few letters from Arthur to Katherine.
Of Arthur's children, the collection reveals information only about his daughter, Elfrieda Blow Freeman ("Elf"). Elfrieda married Merton B. Tice and settled in Mitchell, South Dakota. Tice was active in state politics and Elfrieda became National President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1963. They had three children, Charles, Baird, and Virginia.
The collection reveals little information about Elizabeth Allmond Freeman ("Lizzie"). Lizzie founded the Edgewater Garden Club and lived in the family home in the Edgewater subdivision of Norfolk with her sister, Emma, until her death.
Emma Blow Freeman married Allen Merriam Cook and they initially settled in the family home on Boush Street. They had three children; Allen Blow, and twins, Henry Clarico Freeman ("Freeman") and Clarice.
The bulk of the collection consists of the papers of Allen M. Cook. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1893 and served in the Navy until 1919, retiring with the rank of commander. Allen M. Cook's Naval career took him to assignments throughout the United States, while his wife remained in Norfolk. Emma Freeman Cook was active in the Edgewater Garden Club and the Great Bridge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Upon his retirement, Commander Cook carried on a large real estate business in Norfolk. When he died in 1941, his widow continued to live at the family's home in Edgewater until her death in 1956.
Allen Blow Cook was born in 1899 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1921. A physical disability caused him to retire in 1926. He received his masters degree in 1929 from the University of Virginia and joined the faculty at the Naval Academy. In 1942, he was recalled to active duty and retired in 1947 with the rank of commander. Upon retirement he returned to the Naval Academy faculty. He died in 1971.
The twins, Henry Clarico Freeman ("Freeman") and Clarice, were born in 1909. The collection contains little information of Clarice, other than a few references in the family's correspondence. She married Arthur Gardner and settled in New York.
At the time this biography was written, Freeman Cook, the donor of the collection, was living in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Though he received a scholarship to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, his family wished him to attend the University of Virginia, where he would be a "gentleman." He did attend UVA and studied agriculture. He later traveled and worked throughout the U.S. and in Panama, where he met his wife, Pepita.
Freeman enlisted in the Navy, though the collection only reveals that in 1944 he was a Chief Petty Officer stationed in Norfolk.
The Cook Family is perhaps most notable for their residence, The Tazewell House, in the Edgewater subdivision of Norfolk. Once the home of Littleton Waller Tazewell, a U.S. Senator and Governor of Virginia in the nineteenth century, the mansion was originally located at Granby and Boush Streets in Norfolk. When the mansion- was threatened in the early twentieth century, Emma Blow Freeman (Mrs. Arthur Clarico Freeman) purchased the house, and had it dismantled and reassembled on a site facing the Elizabeth River in Edgewater. According to a newsclipping in the collection, even the trees on the original site were uprooted and replanted at the new location. The Cook Family lived in the home at least until 1960's. Today, the privately owned Tazewell House is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Series I: Correspondence
Series II: Minutes and Proceedings
Series III: Diaries
Series IV: Printed Material
Series V: Financial Documents
Series VI: Photographs
Series VII: Literary Productions
Series VIII: Legal Documents
Series IX: Scrapbooks and Scrapbook material
Series X: Artifacts
Series XI: Charts, Lists, Diagrams, Real Estate Plats, Maps
Series XII: Genealogy