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Laura Miler Rook (1850 - 1947)


Posted By: Barry Mateer (email)
Date: 1/8/2024 at 15:21:33

July 16, 1940
The Osceola Tribune

William Miler daughter remembers 86 years in Iowa

Mrs. Florence Brim hands us a clipping from the Cedar Rapids Gazette on July 7, concerning her aunt who lived for many years at one time in Osceola. Other nieces and nephews living here are Mr. Asbury Paschall, Mrs. Will Kerns, Mrs. Pete O’neall, Mrs. R. N. McQuern, Mrs. C.C. Liggitt and Mrs. Lula Proudfoot and Wm and Homer McCarty.

The article by Gene Farmer is as follows:

Iowa 80 years ago was a young, vigorous territory inhabited by hardy, God-fearing people. Many of them still lived in log houses and cooked their meals in open fireplaces. They went to church every Sunday and sometimes Saturday night.

Mrs. Laura Rook, 865 Eighteenth street SE, can tell you all about it. Mrs. Rook is 90 years old today, and 86 of those years have been spent where the tall corn grows.

Her four children are with her today to celebrate the birthday. Three live in Des Moines; Mrs. Rook makes her home with the fourth, Mrs. Minnie Dodd of Cedar Rapids.

Mrs. Rook now walks with a cane. Her eyes are too weak to read the Gazette as closely has she once did, although she always scans the weather reports. Most of the time she just sits. But her mind is sharp and she loves to reminisce.

She remembers both Lincoln campaigns – in 1860 and 1864 – and she can tell you of a day in April, 1865, when her father came home to announce that President Lincoln had been assassinated.

“We came to Wapello county, Iowa, when I was 2,” she related, fingering her cane and rocking back and fourth. “except for two years some years later when I was out of the state, I’ve been in Iowa since. I was born in Gallia county, Ohio, July 7 1856. We made the trip in a covered wagon. Though of course I don’t remember anything about it.”

“The log house on the farm in Wapello county is the first place I can recall,” she continues. “We lived there nine years, on another farm in Mahaska county four years more. I went to grammar school both places – the only education I had.”

Ms. Rook had two brothers and three sisters, but there was work for all on the farm. The father, William Miler, bought a cow for $15 and worked it out – at 75 cents a day. He went on from there – another cow, pigs, chickens – until the family had a stake. “Folks were thrifty those day,” Mrs. Rook said.

“Father was a pretty strict man,” she recalls. “he used no tobacco, no liquor. If he ever caught one of us kids with an old playing card he took it away from us. On Sunday we all dressed up and went to church. It didn’t make much difference really, how you looked; you just went anyway.”

The heavy planks which formed the floor of the house were bare – a carpet in Iowa was a mark of wealth. The planks didn’t fit as closely as they might have, and if anyone dropped a knife at the table it sometimes went through and he had to rip up a plank to retrieve it.

The feud between northern and southern statesmen burst into flame about that time. Mrs. Rook had seven kin who wore the blue – a brother-in-law, three cousins, an uncle and his two sons. All returned except the brother-in-law and a cousin, who found illness more deadly than rebel bullets.

A year after the war closed Mrs. Rook and her parents moved to Clarke county. “I was 16 then,: she says. “I lived there until I married, when I was 22.”

Shortly before her marriage, however, she lived through a cyclone. “It caught me at my sister’s home.” she recalls. “It slid the house off the blocks, burst the floor, rattled the dishes and gave us all a good scare, but no one was hurt.”

She was married to Ambrose Rook in 1872. They lived in Mills county for eight years, finally went to Des Moines. There she lived until 1932, when she came to Cedar Rapids. Mr. Rook died in 1913.


Clarke Biographies maintained by Brenda White.
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