|Birth: ||Oct. 18, 1854|
|Death: ||Dec. 12, 1884|
Ever since the supreme court, by "its refusal to grant a new trial, made it certain that George Cook would pay the penalty of his crime on the scaffold, public interest in his case has steadily increased until the climax of excitement was reached today. At a very early hour this morning people began flocking to the jail from all quarters, some drawn by curiosity and hoping to obtain a glance at the condemned, or a glimpse of the gallows and the execution; others went because business or official duty made their presence necessary; and still others were friends of the criminal who went say farewell. The curious found the doors of the jail closed and the scaffold hidden from sight; those with the excuse of friendship were permitted to speak with the prisoner, but only those holding invitations from him or from the sheriff were permitted to witness the execution. Promptly at 10 o'clock, the jail was cleared of all outsiders and Cook was left alone with his spiritual adviser, the Rev. Father Cummiskey, who heard his confession and administered final absolution.
In accordance with the wish of the condemned, who had requested no unnecessary delay after the hour legally designated, Cook, attended on one side by the Rev. Father Cummiskey and on the other by Deputy James Stirling and followed by Sheriff Miller started at exactly twenty minutes after eleven o'clock on his death march to the scaffold.
His step was firm, his manner composed, and his voice as he made the responses to the ritual read by the priest, while they slowly walked up the stairway to the scaffold was clear and firm. It was at once evident to all that Cook meant to die game, and he did. He displayed wonderful courage, seeming far more at ease than many of the spectators, or the ecclesiastic who stood by his side. Indeed, the latter, as he read the service, betrayed, by his blanched cheek and trembling lips, the excitement under which be labored, while the man so soon to be hurled into the hereafter was calm and unflinching. After Father Cummiskey had concluded his ministrations said farewell and retired, Sheriff Miller said, "Cook, have you anything to say why the penalty of the law should not now be executed," Cook answered simply. "No, sir." His legs and arms were then pinioned by straps at the ankles, knees, thighs and elbows, his hands were tied behind his back, the black cap was pulled over his face, the noose was adjusted around his neck, and precisely at 11:20 the rope was pulled, the drop fell and Cook was sent to solve the problem of the ages.
The remains, after being viewed by a coroner's jury were placed in a cheap pine coffin, such as is usually provided by the county at pauper burials, with the exception of handles and a few ornaments furnished by the undertaker at his own expense, loaded into the hearse and driven off to the cemetery, where they were buried in the ground set apart for the Catholic church. Half an hour after the drop fell he was planted in the ground. No relative or friend followed the body to the grave, the only persons present being the undertaker and his teamster.
There were in all about forty-five persons who witnessed the execution, including representatives of the press, physicians and others specially invited by the sheriff or by Cook himself, who a day or two ago sent out four or five invitations reading like this:
Sir – You are respectfully invited to attend my execution on the 12th day of December, A.D. 1884, at 11 o'clock at the court house in the city of Laramie.
In connection with this subject it may be noticed that Cook himself spelled his name with a final E.
Cook's conduct during the last few days of his life was characterized by general cheerfulness, and the expression of a desire to have the things over with as quickly as possible. Last Tuesday he asked to have a photographer summoned, as he wished to have some pictures taken for his friends, and in accordance with his wishes Mr. Hartwell went up to the courthouse, and Cook, having been taken under guard to Judge Blair's room, on the second floor, where the light was very good for the purpose, a fine negative was obtained, from which fourteen cabinet photographs were struck off, Cook receiving thirteen and one remaining in the hands of the artist.
During the day yesterday he received a number of friends among whom was Tom Bath, and taking out his mouth organ he played several lively airs and induced Bath to do the same and ended up by presenting him the instrument. Later in the day he was visited by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Albert Cook, of Rock Creek, and his brothers, Albert and James. He sent word, however, to his sister, Mrs. Blount, wife of the man he killed, that he did not wish to see her. After his relatives had gone away Cook, who had lately been removed to a cell in the other end of the building from the one he had before occupied, proceeded to make himself comfortable, and when visited by some newspapermen later in the evening, he was found with his cell brilliantly lighted up, sitting in his red underclothes smoking cigarettes and talking with the death watch, William Tatham. Mr. Tatham, who has been standing guard over Cook for the last sixty-two nights, says that during all the time his prisoner was cheerful and obedient. Along at first Cook professed not to believe in a hereafter of any kind, but last night, in conversation with Tatham, he said "I know there is a heaven and a hell, sure."
Which George Cook today expiated on the gallows, was the cold blooded unprovoked murder of his brother in law, James Blount, which occurred in this city on Thanksgiving day, November 20, 1883. That morning Cook, who had been unemployed at Medicine Bow as a coal heaver by the Union Pacific railroad company, came to Laramie with his pocket full of money, a big forty-five caliber revolver strapped to his waist, and a general determination to have a good time. This good time, in his opinion, consisted in getting outside of as much liquor as his skin could hold, and then making himself disagreeable by bullying everybody with whom he came in contact. He made the grand circuit of the saloons during the day, gradually becoming very much the worse for liquor and frequently displaying his revolver. In the afternoon he ran across his brother-in-law in Grover's saloon and the two had some words, which, at the time, nearly led to blows, and probably formed the basis of ill feeling which rankled Cook's mind till later in the day it culminated in a fearful tragedy. Along in the evening, about 6 o'clock, and a little more than half and hour before the tragedy was enacted, he made his appearance in Cleveland's saloon accompanied by two companions whom he had picked up during the day, ordered drinks for the party, displayed his weapon, and said he was going to kill Jim Blount. The trio then went to Hesse's saloon on Front street, remaining but a short time when they again came out on the street and started off towards the rolling mills. Just as they passed Abram's saloon, which is the third door north of Hesse's, Blount came out on the sidewalk and Cook halted him and commenced to abuse him. Blount at first appeared to take things good naturedly, saying, "That's all right, George, I don't want any quarrel. Let's go in and take a drink." Cook kept calling him names, however, until Blount finally said in an angry way, "I've a damned big notion to mash your nose all over your face." "Do you mean that?" said Cook, and without waiting for a reply he stepped back, pulled his revolver and shot Blount through the head, killing him instantly.
George Cook was born in Worchester, England, October 18, 1854, and was therefore just 30 years and two months old lacking six days when he was led out to execution. His father died in England four years ago. His mother had been a resident of this city until very recently, when unable to bear the thought of remaining in this country when her boy was hanged, and assisted by the generous contributions of Laramie people, she left for her old home across the sea. The dead man had three brothers, one in the East Indies, one at Rock Creek, and one in this city, and three sisters, one in Denver, one in Cheyenne and one, Mrs. Blount, the wife of his victim, in this city. When asked on one occasion if he had any family of his own, he answered, "No lawful family." and the question was not pressed further. During the time of his residence in this country, to which he came in 1876, Cook had lived in this vicinity, and had been working most of the time as a stock herder or "cow puncher," as he termed it. He, himself, ascribed his crime solely to drink; but, while it may be admitted that without whisky the deed would never have been committed, still it was, after all, the natural sequence to a misspent life and the result of riotous passions uncontrolled by conscience or the will.
Excerpts from © Daily Boomerang no. 233 December 12, 1884 page 4
Plot: Row L Lot 1 Space 3
Created by: Lostnwyomn
Record added: Sep 20, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 76819084