Aurelia Ellen Cook.
October 25, 1908 - June 21, 1995
Class of 1927
1997 Hall of Fame
Aurelia Ellen Cook
In 1997, Goshen High Alumni Association inducted its first member into the Goshen High School Hall of Fame. This first honoree was Aurelia Cook, aka "Cookie", Goshen Township High School Class of 1927 and beloved Goshen teacher. Aurelia Ellen Cook was born October 25, 1908, in a house that formerly sat across the road from the current Goshen Middle School at 6667 Goshen Road, Goshen, Ohio. She was the only child of Herbert Noah Cook and Minnie Ellen Patterson Cook. At the time of her birth, her parents shared their home with Aurelia’s widowed maternal grandfather, Samuel A. Patterson from Owensville, Ohio. Her father, Herbert, had two sisters, Laura D. and Aurelia A., who lived nearby at 6603 Goshen Road. It appears that Aurelia Ellen was named to honor her aunt Aurelia and her mother. At age 13, Aurelia’s father became "ill" and she was temporarily moved in with her aunts, Laura and Aurelia. Their home started as a log cabin, built around 1804 by German craftsmen for Jacob Stroup. In 1875, the house and farm was purchased by Aurelia’s paternal grandfather, James McCollum Cook (1840-1914, Co G 89th Reg OVI) and his wife Nancy A. Thacker Cook (1838-1917). James Cook’s son, Herbert (1877-1957) and his wife Minnie (1882-1963) lived in Aurelia birth place until their death. Aurelia Ellen, who had moved into the "cabin" with her aunts in 1921, ended up inheriting both the property of her parents and her aunts. She lived in the "cabin" until her death in 1995, making the Cook’s occupation of the farm property last about 120 years, from 1875-1995.
Aurelia waseducated in Goshen, graduating in the Class of 1927. There were eight girls and three boys in her class. Lester Hause was principal, Frank B. Hoggat, Superintendent. All of her Goshen school years were in the old building now called the "Green" building. In the fall of 1927 she entered Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, majoring in education. She was a very active member of the Alpha Chi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma sorority and she was a Big Sister in her sophomore and senior years. She graduated from Miami University, Class of 1931, with a Bachelor of Science degree. Her first teaching assignment brought her back home to Goshen Schools in 1932. She taught fifth grade. Thereafter her teaching assignments ranged from elementary grades to high school social studies, economics and English, as well as sponsoring many clubs, events and yearbooks.
Other than her students and teaching, one of her greatest passions was travel. She spent her summers exploring the world and then bringing her stories back to share with friends and students. It is kind of ironic that she loved traveling so much because she never learned to drive. According to Kathryn Marr, "She never owned a car but she saw more places than you and I will ever dream of". She often talked of one of her trips to Alaska in which she used dog sled to reach her destination. She also loved dogs and bred Dalmatians. If you visit the "cabin", the whelping shed is the little white building behind the garden of the cabin. She had a large collection of ceramic Dalmatians that she had purchased during her travels and had received from former students. And one cannot over look the fact that she obviously loved to bake because she offered cookies and milk to lots of visitors! It is a fond memory of many.
In 1968, following 37 years of teaching, Aurelia retired, but she continued to work as a substitute teacher. She remained active with Delta Kappa, Kappa Phi, the Clermont County Retired Teachers Association and the Goshen Historical Society. She also helped many people in the community, but did so anonymously.
In the fall of 1968, a new Goshen school building, directly across the road from her home, was named in her honor, Cook Elementary. Kathryn Marr states that Aurelia was "very proud of the fact but would never dwell on it". Miss Cook like that fact that she got to substitute in the building that bore her name and many of the students thought it cool to have the person their building was named after as their teacher.
Aurelia was described by colleagues, students and friends as, kind, nice, reserved, calm, intelligent, quiet, demure and friendly. Betty Christman, a former student and friend once said of Aurelia, "She believed each child had its worth, and because of that I have never heard anyone say a single, unkind thing about her."
The following story was contributed by Laura Bradley, who was a young neighbor of Aurelia. Her reflections reveal the kind of influence Miss Cook had on individuals and is worth sharing in its entirety.
"Miss Cook was kind of my idol when I was a little girl, because I was
really interested in farms. I played with plastic farm animals a lot and
was a huge "Little House on the Prairie" fan. Anyway, bless her heart,
she indulged me by answering all my juvenile questions. I met her when I
was super young, but I remember it like yesterday. My brother had taken
me to the creek for the first time ever and I was so excited to be going
to a farm. We always took the long way to her house through the creek,
so we came up the back of her property. She was pulling in with Mr.
McHenry and my brother told her we weren't going to stay, he was just
showing me the creek and wanted me to meet her. I was shy, but when I
looked up at her I immediately felt her kindness. She was telling my
brother that they just got a new bull, so to be careful down around the
cows (they were frequently in that part of the creek we played at). I
remember she did an imitation of a mean bull, and I cracked up laughing.
I adored her ever since.
My brother would walk me over once in a while as I was still too young to be exploring. She always had cookies and milk for us. She'd let us come in and sit at her dining room table while we visited with her. As I got older, I would ask her a bunch of silly little girl questions about her farm, about being a teacher (she's one of the reasons I had wanted to be a teacher), and about her travels. I look back now, and I think she's probably still my hero.....Dream job, travel in the summer, has a farm......no husband......Lucky girl!
Anyway, she would let me get chicken eggs for her in her chicken coop, and I was so happy to help her out. I'm so happy that they haven't torn that down, there is a lot of memories for me when I stop over there. I miss the site of her regular house, but all of her outer buildings still give me a warm feeling of familiarity. I remember her dogs, the sound of her front gate and every single square foot of the path that goes past the coop and towards the creek. There was an old rusty wagon wheel that she kept there for years on the hillside. She always told me she wanted to keep it there. I suppose she had some memories tied to it. I just thought it was cool.
I can't remember a lot of our conversations now, but I do remember a time I asked her if I could interview her. I was about ten and often pretended to be a news reporter. I asked her a bunch of farming questions and then I asked her why she wasn't married. I didn't know this was a rude question. When I asked her, she didn't get mad at me though, she just laughed. I remember feeling embarrassed that I had asked a bad question, but she immediately made me feel at ease. These days when people ask me the same question, I respond with the same reaction.
She used to show me her antiques and things she collected. I remember being so fascinated with every single thing she had. I remember she had really old stamps. If she didn't have any cookies made when we visited, she'd find something else. Her kitchen always smelled soooo good. It just smelled like the perfect home. I always felt her confidence, which is probably a lot of what would draw me to her house. I think I liked to escape there, because you'll probably hear a lot that her home had an air of comfort. I'm convinced that's why no one tore it all down completely.
I can't remember the date she passed away, but I had an urge around that time to go visit her. I was finally driving and stopped by her house. I remember knocking on her door. I could hear her tv outside. All I could hear was the news and it was about OJ Simpson. It was turned up REALLY loud, so I knew she couldn't hear me knocking. I stood at her door and I remember having the strongest feeling in my stomach that this would be the last chance I'd have. I don't know why I felt that, but I ignored it and left. A week later, I heard she had passed away. I was devastated. I have her obit from the paper in my scrapbook. I've always wished I could have talked to her one last time. Her house was kind of a refuge for me during a really dark time, so for me she was more than a neighbor. She probably knew my home life was troubled but she never said a word about it, she just welcomed me with a smile and kindness.
I take my kids up there in the summer when we play over at the schools. I often get teary-eyed on her property, because I can remember so much detail about my fondest memories growing up on Goshen road. My days of playing on her property are some of my favorite. The boys in the neighborhood (including my brother) built a tree house down by the creek and they would go there to party and camp out as they got older. Once I got mad at my mom and ran away from home to Miss Cook's property. I was probably nine or ten.
Sorry I overloaded on you. Miss Cook was kind of a neighborhood celebrity. Everyone respected her. She was like the kind aunt everyone dreams of having. Her home was a place kids could feel heard and accepted and get a little special attention for a little bit. I thought about naming my daughter after her at one time, but I'd had my heart set on Indira for so long that I didn't."
Miss Cook’s closest and dearest friend was Kathryn Stagge Marr. The two of them grew up as neighbors and maintained their friendship their entire life and both had Goshen buildings named in their honor. In 2002, during a major renovation, the two schools were physically combined together to form the Marr/Cook Elementary, a great symbol of such true and lasting friendship.
On June 19, 1995, Aurelia suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. She was found lying on her floor by her friend, Kathryn Marr. She lasted two days on a respirator and passed on June 21, 1995 at Bethesda North Hospital. She is buried in Myers Cemetery, Goshen, Ohio with 17 of her family member including Great grandparents Noah (1812-1882) and Elizabeth Cook (1812-1892), Grandparents James McCollum Cook (1840-1914) and Nancy Thacker Cook (1838-1917), Aunt Laura D. Cook (1873-1942), Aunt Aurelia A. Cook (1881-1958), Parents, Herbert "Bert" Noah Cook (1877-1957) and Minnie E. Patterson Cook (1882-1963),Great Uncle John E (1855-1911) and Great Aunt Mary J. (1850 1908) and cousins. A long line of Goshen history.
Following her death, Aurelia’s home, farmland and belongings were offered at public auction. With the help of Larry Mohrfield of Pleasant Plain, the farm was purchased and held until it could eventually be purchased by Goshen Board of Education as property to build a new high school. It was the ideal location. With the property in possession and the tax support of the community, a new Goshen High School, opened its doors to students in the fall of 2002. The house that had been owned by Aurelia’s great grandfather, James; her two aunts, Laura and Aurelia A.; and then by Aurelia Ellen, was left standing on the school property when the new school was built. The Goshen Board of Education has leased the house and the surrounding property to the Goshen Historical Society. With the efforts of many volunteers and donations by the Kathryn Marr estate; Aurelia’s home has been restructured to the orginal cabin built in 1804. It now serves as an education center for the children of Goshen. This is a worthy tribute to Aurelia and her ancestors and a wonderful gift to Goshen. Thank you Aurelia Ellen Cook.