Frontier Friday

Every once in a while I get lucky and stumble upon something that has a ton of information about my ancestors and those related to them. This happened a few weeks ago when I was sick and spent my time on the computer searching for my ancestors and their siblings.

I started with my great, great, great grandmother Lucinda Bates Cook (1808-1897). I googled her and found a mention of her in a “Frontier Times” article written by her grandson Joseph T. McKinney (1848-1958), my first cousin four times removed, written in 1924.  This magazine is the property of Old Ventures Frontier Time Archive. They have the copyright on all the issues that ran from October, 1923 through October, 1954.

I downloaded the June 1926 issue for a cost of $7.95 and definitely got my money’s worth.  Joe wrote about his early childhood in Uvalde,Texas and told stories about many of his relatives. I spent the next few days researching some of the people he mentioned.

One such person was his cousin, Thalis T. Cook (1858 – 1919), who he said later became a Texas Ranger.

Texas_Ranger_1846 This piqued my curiosity on a few levels. One Thalis’ father was David Thalis Cook (1812 – 1910, who is my third great grand uncle. Up to this time I had no information about him. David was married to Elizabeth Jane McKinney (1829-1880). I am discovering that there was a lot of intermarrying between the Cook, Bates and McKinney families. Though our line does not have a direct connection to the McKinneys, obviously there was a close bond with this family.

Secondly, the mention of a Texas Ranger in the family really set off my imagination. Growing up there were lots of movies and TV shows that were inspired by or showcased the exploits of this law enforcement group. And of course there are numerous books on the Rangers.

So I had to find out more about Thalis T. Cook. At first I did not have his birth and death information and could not find him anywhere. So I went back to Joe McKinney’s article and was able to estimate a birth date for Thalis. From there I was able to connect with some family trees on ancestry and also found him in the 1860, 1870 and 1900 census records. And then I googled him and found him listed in the “Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters” on pages 72-73. Also found him in “Historical Dictionary of Law Enforcement” on pages 75-76. Plus there were numerous other links to information about him.

But one of the best decriptions on Thalis’ exploits was in “Triggernometry” by Eugene Cunningham. Over four pages he describes a gun battle with the members of Captain Hughes party who were out to serve a warrant on the some bad guys out in the Alpine country and word was they were going to rob a train. This was in 1896 and Thalis was a member of this party. In the end he is credited with killing the infamous Friar Brothers.

Anyway it was exciting reading about Thalis. He later became deputy sheriff of Brewster County Texas. Google his name and see what you find.





  1. mary said,

    January 7, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    I enjoyed reading the research you have found on the cook i am descended thruJjames Collins Cook and was lucky another relaitve copied all those articles and sent them to me . I alos visited the ranger muesem some years ago and got some of Thalis Cooks records. Seems we had both good guys and outlaws in the family

  2. Della Smith said,

    January 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Enjoyed reading about your post about Joseph T. McKinney…he was the second husband of my great grandmother, Dortha Madsen Rollins. They were married in 1897 and actually had 4 children, not 3, although one son, Joseph (also known as “Buddy”) only lived to the age of three years old. The other children were Dan Carroll, born 1898, Thelma Josephine, born 1899, Joseph, 1901-1904, and Gladys Violet, born 1904. I’m in contact with the daughter and grand daughter of Gladys Violet, who still live in Arizona. Dortha’s previous husband, John Henry Rollins had been tragically killed in an accident when he was only 24 years old, leaving Dortha with two young children to raise, my grandmother, Dorothea Evelyn Rollins and her brother Delbert. John Henry Rollins died in 1889, and Dortha did not marry Joseph T. McKinney until 8 years later. All 6 of the children were raised in Arizona, but later my grandmother Dorothea Evelyn Rollins moved to California when she married Stephen J. Eubank in 1909. Her half-sister, Thelma Josephine also moved to California and lived in Los Angeles most of her life. If you would like to correspond, please send me an email at your convenience. I have a lot of genealogical records of the family and have compiled a pretty large family tree on a website, Best Regards, Della Smith

  3. James McKinney said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Thalis T. Cook was my Great Grandfather’s cousin and served with him in Capt. J.R. Hughes Ranger Company “D”. The McKinney Clan which comprised of McKinneys, Bates, Cooks, Hancocks migrated to Texas from Franklin Co., Alabama in two waves, 1st in 1846 & 2nd in 1850 where they all met up in Birdville, Tarrant Co., Texas in 1854 and proceeded to Uvalde Co. where they controlled the county for almost 15 years (1855 – 1870).
    There were numerous Texas Rangers in the McKinney Clan, 1st was Thomas Jefferson McKinney, followed by the next generation: Thomas Christopher “Kip” McKinney (in on the killing of Billy the Kid), Tolbert Fannin “Tol” McKinney (my GGrandpa), Thalis T. Cook, etc.
    Best wishes,
    James McKinney

  4. Kathy Utiss said,

    April 3, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Hi I’ve been doing a lot of research on my family history for the last few years what set me off to do this was my grandmother who wanted to know what happened to her father.

    Been around the world and back in my endeavors in trying to piece the pieces of the puzzle together given to me with so few clues. However, someone recently said one of my family members was a companion to Billy The Kid…So I’m quite shocked 😦 but needless to say) intrigued still as Patrick was one of the 1st gold miners in our country. Here is the blogpost about Patrick Durack where no one mentions anything about him anywhere else.

    Now what brought me to your page is researching the Mc Kinney family after finding out Kip Mc Kinney was involved in the take down of the kid. As in my research I came across another Mc Kinney Family that knew the kid. Felix Carroll Mc Kinney..Here’s the link to that branch of the Mc Kinney family.

    All very interesting to me 🙂

    • mkaymac said,

      November 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      Sorry I have not replied to you sooner as I changed my email and neglected my genealogy blog for awhile. Thanks for the links.

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