Wednesday, March 28, 2012
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.