Wednesday, March 28, 2012

George Cooke

This weathered marble bust seems a little out-of-place amid the smaller and simpler stones on the North Ridge, just a few sections from the penitentiary plot where Confederate outlaw Samuel O. Berry is interred.

There is little biographical information on George Cooke, a patent medicine seller and self-promoter who claimed to be (among other things) a lawyer, a professor, a doctor, and a general.

He must have made a very good living in the medical elixir business, though, as he was able to commission this marble bust from prominent Albany sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer and leave a generous bequest to the Albany Young Men's Association to furnish 1,000 books for their library.

This bust was originally displayed in the Association's library, but was moved to the Rural Cemetery where it has suffered from exposure to the elements.

Cooke was born in 1788 and died in 1873. The inscription on his monument refers to him as General George Cooke.

1 comment:

  1. Gen. George Cooke (1788-1873)

    The bust might not be by Erastus Dow Palmer, though Palmer did create a small medallion with Cooke's likeness for the YMA which they gave to him in thanks for the donation. Cooke's book Professional Experience in Various Climates: A Complete Practical Treatise on Genital Malagies; With Pathological Observations on the Philosophy of Reproduction, Spermatorrhoea, and Their Immediate and Remote Consequences Together with the More Successful Management of Women and Children as Adopted at the Present Day, 2nd edition, mentions a "a splendid Marble Bust was executed and sent to his residence in the United States", the artist who created the bust being "E.H. Bailey of the Royal Academy of London".

    His obituary's interesting, as are his verbose and illustrated advertisements in newspapers around the state. I'll post them elsewhere.