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Olive Rambo Cook
Constitution Tribune, June 1, 1988
reprinted by permission of the Constitution Tribune.
Trails to Poosey -- A fanciful Trip
If relaxing with a good novel is something you want to do this summer, Trails to Poosey, a pioneer story about some of this area's first settlers, would be a good choice.
Authored by the late Olive Rambo Cook, this book was written for older grade school and junior high school children, but is also thoroughly enjoyable reading for adults.
Set in the late 1830's near the Livingston-Grundy County lines, Trails to Poosey, is the account of the Peter Robison family's first four exciting months of homesteading in Missouri on land that is now Poosey State Forest.
Using an unusual twist for a pioneer story, Cook's main character who is embittered over her father's insistence on moving from their home in Poosey Ridge, Kentucky, to Missouri. Nathan who wanted to stay in Kentucky and study medicine with his physician grandfather, is legally bound to his father until age 21.
On a hot July day, Peter Robison and his wife, and three children -- Nathan, 15; Betsy, 12; and Andy, 4 -- ride horseback into the settlement of Navestown -- later to be known as Springhill -- several miles northwest of Chillicothe. They are welcomed by the Jesse Nave family and others in the settlement. Within a few days the Robisons have settled on land about four miles northwest of Navestown.
Having led his family into the unknown, this hard-driven father works to provide for his family. Like most parents, he does some maturing in the course of trying to do what he thinks is best for himself and for his family.
Written in simple and direct style, Cook keeps the story moving with suspense, excitement and tenderness, introducing new characters at just enough intervals to keep things interesting. The book is well researched and reflects Cook's knowledge of this area of Missouri and her love of nature and animals. She pays strict attention to historical detail without encumbering the story with it and weaves in interesting details about daily life both in the settlement and on the trail.
Read Trails to Poosey and you'll smell sulphur burning in a disease-ridden cabin; feel cold rain and hot sun bearing down on your back and taste fresh blackberries and milk -- a respite from months of dried deer meat and cornbread. You'll breathe a sigh of relief when a limber-legged colt gets a second chance at life; look an angry bear in the eye and take a psychological and philosophical swing through the minds of a father and son whose roles are reversed when one hangs close to death.
If you are familiar with the Chillicothe area, you can get an interesting perspective on such familiar places as the Grand River, Jimtown, Carrolton, Lexington, Brunswick and the bluffs, hills, hollers and bottomlands between Poosey on the Gee Creek and Lexington on the Missouri River.
Trails to Poosey, a paperback published in 1986 by Misty Hill Press,
is the sixth book by the late Olive Rambo Cook.
Authoress uses Livingston County
as a backdrop for many stories
Authoress Olive Rambo Cook used Livingston County as the backdrop for her six published juvenile books and for many of her inumerable short stories. Real names, places, legends, folk lore and true stories from this county appear throughout her written work.
Mrs. Cook was born August 26, 1892, on a farm west of Avalon. She was the only surviving child of George and Effie Rambo. Her mother died when Mrs. Cook was a small child and she and her father moved to Chillicothe where she was reared by her father and her paternal grandmother on a block of land in Gravesville on the southwest corner of Graves and Olive Streets.
She was graduated from Chillicothe High School, Chillicothe Business College and in 1920 married Frank Cook. In 1923 her only child, George, was born. After her husband's death in 1943, she and her son left Chillicothe.
Her books were published between 1957 and 1986, the last book, Trails to Poosey, having been published after her death, December 24, 1981, in Mountain View, California. Her other published books include Coon Holler, Serelda's Star, Locket, The Sign at Six Corners, and Golden Gourd.
In addition to writing, Mrs. Cook was an accomplished painter and had her first art exhibit at the age of 80 in the Mountain View Library. In her youth, one of her favorite painting views was from the hill overlooking the Graham's Mill covered bridge which was located northwest of Chillicothe, just east of the present bridge over the Grand
River on Highway 190.
Friend of Authoress remember true stories
Mrs. George (Vella) VanDeventer, 624 Cowgill, was a longtime friend of authoress Olive Rambo Cook and remembers many interesting stories about Mrs. Cook and the often true stories Mrs. Cook included in her books.
"There are lots of stories in her books that I recognize," Mrs. VanDeventer said. "Serelda's Star -- that's named for my mother -- Seralda Dupy. In the book Locket, there's a story based on my mother's brother. He swapped his dollar watch for and Indian pony. The Indians had trained the pony and if you touched its knee he'd kneel down so you could get on him easy and quick.
"And in this last book, Trails to Poosey, well, my grandad had a colt that was following its mother and fell through the bridge over Indian Creek between Graham's Mill and Sampsel. My grandad put the colt in the back of the spring wagon and took it home and put slippery elm splints on it and that colt grew up to be my uncle's buggy horse."
"Mrs. Cook and I had a lot of fun. We always kept in contact through the years. She sent me the manuscript for Trails to Poosey about 15 years ago for me to read. I really liked her writing."
Though Mrs. Cook was several years older than Mrs. VanDeventer, the two women shared many interests, such as writing, painting, photography and music. An enthusiasm for pursuing knowledge and fun and an unusual tenacity are evident in the life of Mrs. VanDeventer and those same qualities permeate the written works of Mrs. Cook whose views on life were reflected in the characters in her books.
In a tribute written by Joe E. Armstrong, a friend of Mrs. Cook's son,
Armstrong compared Mrs. Cook to a salt lick. "Few days ever contained
enough time for Mrs. Cook -- writing, painting and taking time to visit with the
steady flow of people who came to her small cottage on Oak Street in Mountain
View (California)," Armstrong wrote. "I recall in my youth the cows
coming each day to the salt lick, some early, some late, but each day they would
all come to seek that vital element. I fondly think of Mrs. Cook as a salt lick
for a whole lot of people," he wrote.
Constitution Tribune October 24, 1959
New Book with Graham's Mill Background Published by Firm
A new children's book, Serilda's Star, written by Mrs. Olive Rambo Cook, a former Chillicothean, has just been published by Longman's Green & Company.
Mrs. Cook's first book was Coon Holler, published in 1957, and which was selected as an Ambassador book by the English Speaking Union and also was a selection by the Junior Literary Guild.
"Serilda" is the given name of Mrs. Earl Dupy, 624 Cowgill Street, who, according to Mrs. Cook, gave permission to use it. The book has a historical background of Livingston county during 1866 to 1868. Parts of it first were published serially. The story is laid near the old Graham's Mill and the building of the bridge is part of the story.
Mrs. Cook says she especially loved the old covered bridge and used to picnic with friends near the old forebay or went swimming in the river. After the bridge passed into history, she decided to write a story so that it would not be forgotten.
Mrs. Cook lives with her son, George Cook, an electrical engineer, in Houston, Texas. She was born and reared on a farm a few miles west of Avalon. Her mother died when she was small and she moved with her father to Chillicothe. Here she was graduated from the Chillicothe High School and Chillicothe Business College.
She and her father lived on a block of ground in Gravesville. She recalls that it was like a tiny farm for they had a garden, cows, chickens, pigeons and various pets.
She was married to Frank Cook of Chillicothe in 1920. Their son was born in 1923. The family had many hobbies. George obtained an amatuer radio license while in high school and was fond of working with model airplanes, photography and radio.
Mrs. Cook first wrote feature stories, selling them to farm magazines and newspapers. She changed to juvenile stories, writing occasionally for the St. Joseph Newspress and Wee Wisdom.
Mr. Cook died in 1943 and her son was overseas with the army, so Mrs. Cook turned to writing in earnest. For several years she wrote regularly for Wee Wisdom, The Instructor and Junior Arts. Now she writes short stories only for Wee Wisdom.
Mrs. Cook says she is not a prolific writer, that it is not "inspiration," but hard work.
Her stories are of the "character-building type -- with the moral well
concealed. She writes all her stories for the same age group, children 9 to 13.
Author Lists Local Person Who Helped With Information
A copy of Serilda's Star was received during the weekend by Mr. and Mrs. Eary Dupy with the following autograph: "To Serilda and Earl Dupy with love and best wishes from Olive Rambo Cook, Oct. 19, 1959."
The book is dedicated to the memory of her mother and father, Effie M. and George W. Rambo, who loved horses.
Also on two of the front pages is a list of persons in Chillicothe she is grateful to for information contained in the book.
Mrs. Earl Dupy who lived near the bridge when a little girl, and let me use her name - Serilda.
Elmer Goben* for information and scale drawings of the bridge.
Mrs. Edgar Reynolds
Mrs. George Van Deventer
Mrs. James L. Francis
Miss Clyta Anderson
Mrs. David Girdner
Joseph D. Stewart
Goodlou Grouse* for facts about the bridge opening ceremony
Mrs. Ethel Randolph*
Fred Gunby, for access to old county maps.
The Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce
The librarians of Livingston County Memorial Library
And for the Centennial edition of the Chillicothe Constitution, published Sept. 13, 1937
Mrs. John L. Brooks*, my Aunt Lena of Kansas City, MO, who lived to be 94 and told me much about the early days.
Guy H. Stone* Monett, MO, for facts and drawings of the forebay
Mrs. S. M. Solomon, Carthage, MO, for the use of the History of Caldwell and Livinston Counties, compiled by early settlers and the St. Louis Historical Society, 1886.
Melissa and Paul Shaw, Auburn, Alabama.
Miss Jane Palmer, editor of Wee Wisdom, Lee's Summit, MO, who published part of Serilda's Star as two serials.
Miss May Brookshier, Houston, Texas.
W. A. Lawson, Westmoreland Stables, Houston, Tex.
Andy Whitehill, Whitehill Stables, Houston, Tex., for permission to use the name Radiant Star.
Miss Gerry Stockton, children's librarian, Austin Public Library, Austin, Tex.
The librarians of Bellaire Community Library, Bellaire, Tex, and many, many others.
Serilda's Star is illustrated by Helen Torey and the publishers are Longmans, Green and Co., New York, London and Toronto, Canada.
Mrs. Cook, a former resident of Chillicothe, now resides at 6849 Bellaire
Blvd., in Houston 36, Texas.
Constitution Tribune October 20, 1962
Her Third Children's Book Nears Print
A third children's book by Mrs. Olive Rambo Cook, a former resident of Chillicothe, will go into print this fall and will further immortalize the Graham's Mill area of Livingston County.
Mrs. Cook visited friends and relatives in Livingston County for several days recently. She now makes her home in Mountain View, Calif., with her son George, an electrical engineer.
Mrs. Cook's newest book, entitled Locket, will be a sequel to an earlier one set in the same vicinity of the Graham's Mill covered bridge. The first book with this setting was entitled Serilda's Star.
While in Chillicothe, Mrs. Cook has been staying with Mr. and Mrs. George VanDeventer at 1227 Webster Street, visiting other friends here and in the Avalon area, where she was born.
Mrs. Cook was born and reared on a farm a few miles west of Avalon. Her mother died when she was small and she moved with her father to Chillicothe, where she was graduated from high school and Chillicothe Business College.
She was married to the late Frank Cook of Chillicothe in 1920 and their son was born in 1923. Mr. Cook died in 1943 while their son was overseas with the Army. Mrs. Cook then returned to writing.
Before writing books, she wrote juvenile stories for magazines and for
several years was a regular contributor to Wee Wisdom.
Constitution-Tribune, Tuesday, January 30, 1973, Page 3
Olive Rambo Cook Has First Art Show at 80
A Mountain View (Calif.) authoress and former Chillicothean whose first book was published when she was 65 recently got around to her first art exhibit...at the age of 80.
"I was painting when I was in high school," Olive Rambo Cook told a California newspaper feature writer at her exhibit in the Mountain View Library. "But I didn't take any lessons nor take it too seriously.
Miss Roxie Eaton, 8001/2 Cherry Street, Chillicothe, received from Mrs. Cook a clipping from the newspaper whit a note that one of the pictures exhibited was of the old Graham's Mill covered bridge which was on Grand River, northwest of Chillicothe.
the newpaper feature said that she said she never dreamed of having her own show when she enrolled in Wilfrid Provan's water color course under adult education a few years ago.
The article continued:
When she was invited to display her work, she confessed to being so flattered "I said 'yes' to soon; and then I really had to scurry around to finish all the paintings."
Picking up a little white card from her living room floor, on purpose. It is a note from me." She gestured towards a still life of fruit propped against a chair. "It is reminding me to fix the leaf on the persimmon," she chuckled.
Droll and candid wit, along with youthful imagination, patience and persistence, has marked Olive Cook's life. The characteristics are manifested throughout her five published books for children and now in her art, which largely carries a message of nostalgia.
She has brought back the smell of a wheatfield, haunting memories within a lonely hut in a hill and recaptured the sound of a little brook.
A favorite she confesses, is the old covered bridge in Paradise Park, about three miles northwest of Santa Cruz (off the highway to Boulder Creek). Built in 1872 by the San Francisco Bridge Co. to serve the California Powder Works, it is the only covered span in the West equipped with fire hoses at either end.
And except for metal nuts and bolts, the 180 ft. long structure was constructed entirely of local wood.
Reared on a farm in northern Missouri, Mrs. Cook graduated from a local business college in Chillicothe, became a "school marm" and also had a career as a secretary.
Though she had "dabbed" in writing all of her life, she made no attempt to sell her stories until after her marriage to Frank Cook. Then with a young son, her thoughts turned to writing for children; and it wasn't long before various publications were soliciting her for her homespun stories.
The stories that gave her a chance to relive long Sunday walks with her father, horseback and buggy rides and picnic excursions by the old mill bridge.
Through the years too, she worked with the Campfire Girls and as teacher of arts and crafts in a state school for girls, besides teaching in the church school.
A few years after her husband's death, she and her only son, George, moved to Houston, Texas, where they lived for 14 years and George graduated from the University at Austin.
Though she had sold more than 100 short stories and articles (presently has a short story coming out soon in Wee Wisdom, a Unity publication), it wasn't until 1958 that she saw her first book hit the book stores and libraries.
It was Coon Holler. The very next year she came out with Serilda's Star, a heart warming story about horses and children.
Mrs. Cook and her son arrived in the Bay Area in 1960. George went to work as an electrical engineer at Ames Research Laboratory and his mother settled down with her typewriter to write Locket, a sequel to Serilda's Star.
Since then, George has been married.
His wife Frances is an abstract artist; George's hobby is photography. Mrs. Cook published two more books, The Sign at Six Corners and The Magic of the Golden Gourd and currently has another book awaiting publication.
Meanwhile she's enjoying her paint brush as much as her typewriter. And she's known for a long time that "there's magic in either tool, if you have patience, persistence and a sense of humor."
Mrs. Cook's art may be viewed at the Mountain View Library, 585 Franklin St.,
Mountain View, for the next two weeks.
Constitution-Tribune, Monday, December 28, 1981
Olive Rambo Cook (Obituary)
Mrs. Olive Rambo Cook, former Livingston Countian who achieved fame as an author and artist, died December 24 at a semi-rest home in Mt. View, Calif.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a. m., Wednesday at the Avalon Cemetery under the direction of the Lindley Funeral Home. The Rev. Rick Johnson will officiate.
The body will lie in state at the Lindley Funeral Home after 11 a. m. Tuesday.
Mrs. Cook was born August 26, 1892, the daughter of George and Effie Rambo, farmers near Avalon.
She was a graduate of Chillicothe High School and the Chillicothe Business College and was married to Frank K. Cook of Chillicothe. He died in 1943.
Mrs. Cook is survived by a son, George of Palo Alto, Calif.
Following her husband's death, Mrs. Cook moved to Austin and then to Houston, Texas with her son, living there from 1946 to 1960.
Prior to that she was associated with the youth magazine, "Wee Wisdom" and became famous for her children's stories. Mrs. Cook moved to Mountain View, Calif., in 1960 and became interested in painting with oils. Her paintings readily sold. She continued to write and sell children's books and undertook to write a story of "Poosey, the Land of Never-Never." The manuscript has as yet been accepted by a publisher.