LIVINGSTON, Jean Bain (1881)
Memories of Jean Bain Livingston Cook
By David S. Cook, grandson
Jean Bain Livingston was born on April 16, 1881 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the sixth of the twelve children born to William and Lillias Dick Livingston.
Her father, William Livingston, was born on April 28, 1848 in Airdrie, Lanark Scotland. Lillias Dick, mother of Jean Bain Livingston, was born April 13, 1851 in Rumlinsink or Dalziel, Lanark, Scotland. Thus, my grandmother, Jean Bain Livingston was a daughter of original Mormon pioneers who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and the United States into the territory of Utah.
William Livingston was the youngest grandson of Christina Campbell Livingston (Granny). He was only age six when she brought him and his older siblings on the ship “Charles Book” from Liverpool, England in 1855 to New Orleans. They started from Scotland on December 16, 1854, finally arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on September 25, 1855.
Lillias Dick immigrated to Utah from Scotland in 1868 when she was 17 coming with her widowed father and an older and younger sister. They came on the ship “John Bright”. Lillias Dick walked the whole distance across the plains, sleeping on the ground at night.
Jean Bain Livingston was two years old when her parents moved in 1883 from Salt Lake City, Utah to Birch Creek, Utah two miles southwest of Fountain Green, Utah, Sanpete County. William and Lillias Livingston raised their family on a Birch Creek homestead, starting from “scratch” as pioneers had to, wresting a living from the land.
Both Williams and Lillias died in 1850 and within six weeks of each other. William died on November 20, 1900 just before Thanksgiving. Lilias died New Years Eve, December 31, 1900. Lillias was then only 49 years of age, William only 52. Jean Bain Livingston was then only 21 years old. She felt responsible for the care and guidance of her six younger brothers and sisters, all then orphans.
Jean's oldest brother, William Dick Livingston, prevailed on David Willard Cook to buy the William and Lillias Homestead in Birch Creek from the Livingston “estate”. He did so and married Jean Bain Livingston on April 7, 1904 in the Salt Lake Temple.
David Willard Cook, my grandfather, told me, after he had become a widower, about a dream he had before he married Grandmother Jean Bain Livingston. In the dream David Willard Cook was moving a herd of sheep riding on his horse back and forth along one side of the herd. He saw a rider on a horse on the far side of the herd. The rider knew what to do to keep that side of the herd gathered and moving and would work and turn in cooperation and in harmony with Grandfather. When, after a time, Grandfather got close enough to see the other rider who was helping him so well, it was Grandmother Jean Bain Livingston. Grandfather understood this dream to mean Jean was the girl he was to marry and be sealed to for time and all eternity.
I heard other stories about Grandmother Jean Bain Livingston from Grandfather and from her oldest son, my father, David William Cook, who was born on the former Livingston Birch Creek homestead in 1905 and later lived in Fountain Green for a few years until his parents, David Willard Cook and Jean Bain Livingston moved to Logan, Utah with their first three children. David William Cook (called “Willy Cook” in Fountain Green and later “Bill Cook”), Hazel Cook and Cecil Cook. (My father, David William Cook, Margaret Livingston and Enid Cox were those who decided to formally organize the Livingston Family Association as a Utah non-profit corporation.)
Grandfather David Willard Cook apparently had a bit of teasing streak. One of Dad's favorite stories was about a time when the David Willard Cook and Jean Bain Livingston Family was still living in Fountain Green, Utah. Grandfather and Grandmother and Dad were driving along in a buggy. I think the horse was named “Old Vic”. A man and his horse or horses and buggy came up behind and gave some indication he wanted to pass Grandfather. Grandfather kept a corner of his eye out for the following buggy and made “Old Vic” speed up. The following buggy also sped up so Grandfather went faster. Finally Grandmother and Dad were going full tilt down the road in a big cloud of dust with Grandmother hollering, “Will, Will you are going to kill us,” or words to that effect. When they got to town and finally slowed down, in order to calm her fears, Grandfather explained, “Well he was trying to pass me.” Grandmother may not have been entirely satisfied with that explanation. Her prayers probably saved them.
Perhaps Grandfather could get away with teasing Grandmother from time to time because he was gone for very long periods of time as a livestock operator “out with the sheep.”
Another story is about a dream Grandmother Jean Bain Livingston had after her third child Cecil, born in Fountain Green, April 14, 1910, died at age 3½ after the family had moved to Logan, Utah.
Grandfather had bid goodbye to Jean Bain Livingston Cook and their three little children to answer a call to serve a mission in the Eastern States and Canada. While he was serving in the mission field, word was sent to Grandfather that Cecil was in the hospital and that if Grandfather wanted to see him alive, he had better come home. The doctor had given up all hope of Cecil's recovery but Jean Bain Livingston had prayed that her little son Cecil might be allowed to live at least until Grandfather arrived home.
Grandfather got permission from the mission president to return home and did so. Grandmother's prayer had been answered. Cecil was alive when Grandfather arrived. Cecil suddenly got worse and passed away. After he was buried, Grandfather returned to the mission field leaving Jean Bain Livingston in charge of their two other little children, David William Cook and Hazel Cook.
After Cecil died and was buried, Grandmother continued to grieve over her loss. She could not get over it. (Perhaps this was because she lost her parents so early.) Then she had a dream. She saw children playing together happily as children do, but one little child was apart – alone – not playing with the other children – Cecil. She talked with him. Why was he not playing with the others? He could not do so because his mother was holding him back with her grief. Grandmother was then able to “let him go.” Off he went to play with the other children.
Dad often told another story. In Logan, again “going it alone”, Grandmother was left with responsibility for seeing to getting material for the completion of the Dewey apartments next to Grandmother and Grandfather's home in Logan, Utah. This apartment building was built next to the Cook home at 21 South, 100 East,Logan, Utah. A load of lumber was delivered. Grandmother looked at it and sentit back, telling the lumber man that the load of wood was unsuitable, not as ordered.
Dad had the impression the lumber yard thought it could pawn off an inferior load of material on Grandmother thinking she would not know good lumber from bad. They were greatly mistaken and set straight by Grandmother who knew from working with her Dad, William Livingston, what was good lumber and what was not. She would not be taken in when Grandfather was not around.
Dad, then very young, was real proud of her. He knew he had a smart mother. He was very proud of her for standing up to the lumberman. The lesson here is that everyone, including the daughters, ought to become as competent as possible as they may well have to fight battles with a cold cruel world in the absence of their husbands.
My mother, Gracia Stewart Cook, told me that her mother, Johanna Kotter Stewart and Jean Bain Livingston were the best of friends and worked for years in a Relief Society Presidency in Logan, Utah. They talked about how Jean Bain Livingston had sons and Johanna Stewart had daughters and how could they get them to marry?
From childhood on, Grandmother Livingston, planted, weeded, watered and harvested gardens. She could and did feed her family from those gardens, supplemented with mutton from the herd. There was no need to go the store. Mother told me Grandmother once commented about a neighbor – “Why that woman feeds her family out of a paper sack!” How times have changed!
My sister, Carol Jean Cook Coombs, tells me that one time when Carol Jean, then very young, was sleeping with Grandmother in Grandmother's bed, Grandmother casually asked Carol Jean who Carol Jean thought was Grandmother's prettiest granddaughter. Carol Jean hesitated. Grandmother then said: “It's either Maribeth because she has those big blue eyes or Connie because she has that streak.” Carol Jean was surprised because she thought she was the prettiest. (Connie had a white streak in her hair. Connie is the oldest daughter of Loyal Bain Cook. Maribeth is the third child of David William Cook and Gracia Stewart Cook.)
Besides losing young Cecil, Grandmother later lost another son, Dewey Cook, who had just been recently married. Dewey disappeared in 1942 on a winter range in Wyoming known as the Rock Springs Lease. Dewey was a sheep herder. His still saddled horse and sheep dog returned to camp without him. Lots of hunting for him took place, riding and riding. Rumors surfaced that someone had seen him riding the railroad or that he had been seen here or there. Grandmother would say she knew where Cecil was and where others in the family who had died and were buried were, but not Dewey. She could not be at rest about Dewey.
A year or so later, Dewey's remains were found by another sheep herder who saw something shining and went over to investigate. Dental worked confirmed the remains were that of Dewey Cook. Dad said another sheepherder who had worked with Dewey told him, or some other member of the family, that Dewey was a good boy, right up there with Jesus. Dewey's mortal remains were buried in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
Grandmother Cook then knew where he was - that he was okay and had not run off, but had remained faithful. Her prayers asking that Dewey be found and for his eternal safety had been answered.
After being wiped out of the sheep business during the depression of the 1930s, in the fall of 1942 Grandfather and Uncle Loyal Bain Cook, with help from Uncle Blaine Cook and Uncle Grant Cook, started again in the sheep business in Colorado with help from Joe Livingston, Grandmother's next younger brother.
I spent a large part of one or two summers, 1944 – 1945, with my Grandmother and Grandfather Cook on the Cook lambing ground and summer range up the White River in Colorado.
Grandmother was then well over 60 years of age and not exactly still in theflower of youth. Yet she supported Grandfather and her boys by being willing to be out assisting them “roughing it”, living in the sheep camp, being the “camp tender” while Grandfather again started up in the sheep business at age 64 and initially had to personally herd the sheep. Not many wives over 60 years of age would do that.
I learned that Jean Bain Livingston's family was often on her mind. I spent many an hour when I was six-seven years of age with Grandfather and Grandmother when they were traveling together to and from the Joe Livingston Ranch near Rangely from the Cook lambing ground east up the White River from Meeker, Colorado. We traveled in a pickup truck. I rode between Grandmother and Grandfather in the cab when I was not riding in back. During these long rides, Grandmother, “Aunt Jean” to her nephews and nieces and “Mother Cook” to others, would tell Grandfather all about family matters and worries. I knew from her conversation and the tone of it that she had great concern for her family. These included, “Uncle Joe”, her younger brother, “Uncle Abe” and his wife, “Aunt Sadie” and others. Grandfather David Willard Cook and his brothers were, by contrast to Jean, - quiet - slow to speak. They seldom had long conversations and could handle (enjoy) long (thoughtful) silences in each other's company. Stories are told about that Cook characteristic.
At age 6-7 it was easy for me to live in the sheep camp wagon with Grandmother Jean Bain Livingston Cook than with only Grandfather and my uncles who were gone in the early morning and again in the afternoon herding and taking care of the sheep. Grandmother would cook bread rolls, mutton chops and much else in the camp stove in the camp wagon, plus she kept the sheep camp neat and clean. She knew exactly how to keep the fire in the camp wagon stove right for cooking and baking. She was thrifty. When the dishes were done, she would use the dish water to wash the sheep camp floor and sweep it.
Grandmother had me sleep between Grandmother and Grandfather in the camp wagon – putting up with a little kid.
Grandfather would get up way early to get out to the herd before they wandered away from the bed ground. Grandmother and I would stay in bed until we woke up and it was light and then have breakfast together.
Grandmother was unfailingly kind to me. One time I ran down the hill and fell down catching my fall with both hands into a patch of cactus so I had these cactus spines in both hands and could not close or even move them. I came to Grandmother with this trouble and she took all the spines out and carefully took care of the problem. I was glad she was at the campsite!
In those days kids rode in the back of the trucks. Once when the truck had things in the back covered with a tarp, I rode back there and ran back and forth over the tarp and whatever was under it. At our destination, Grandfather discovered that I had tromped on a hat box. Grandmother's hat was inside that box. I must have smashed it. Grandfather did not approve of my smashing Grandmother's hat, the presence of which had not drawn my concern. But Grandmother said it was alright and just did not matter a bit and forgave me my trespass without a second thought! Maybe she did not really like the hat. But if that was the case, why did she bring it along? Grandmother did have large brimmed hats and kept them in cardboard hat boxes. I think she wore hats, fairly nice ones, to keep the sun from her hair and face. I do not remember that we had or used sunscreen in the early 1940s. Maybe sunscreen had not yet been invented.
Grandmother kept things orderly in the sheep camp wagon without electricity or running water. Washtubs were used. The washtub was also a bathtub – at least for me. The tea kettle on the stove made hot water which, when added to cold water from the bucket, made a warm bath. So Grandmother gave me, her little grandkid, baths. I remember feeling different, better really, with clean clothes after a washtub camp wagon bath.
Notwithstanding being from childhood in primitive pioneer circumstances, Grandmother was able to keep tablecloths and dollies white and clean. She made rugs from rags. She washed out and put up her hair. She had very long black hair - some graying in the 1940s, but wrapped and put up neatly and comely at all times. She was a real “lady”.
She always kept an eye out for me. Once when moving the sheep camp, commissary wagon, truck and other things, I ended up in the sheep camp wagon alone. Outside the camp wagon were Grandmother, Grandfather and my uncles. The team of horses hitched to the camp wagon started off with the sheep camp sans any driver. Grandmother saw the team start with me alone in the camp wagon and hollered at me as they started off to “jump out the back window.” I think she was hoping to save me from death. I could hardly even stand up in the moving camp wagon let alone climb up on the bed and open the little window and jump down five or six feet or so to the ground. I could only stay in the sheep camp. Finally,the horses stopped or someone stopped them. Then I heard one of my uncles, or maybe it was Grandfather, say, “Oh, they would have stopped when they got to the river.” At least Grandmother was looking out for me.
It was the same when I was sleeping in a tent by myself next to the sheep camp. The tent blew down in the night or early morning. Grandmother excitedly told Grandfather I had been killed or injured by the ridge pole coming down on top of me. Grandfather lifted up the flap and there I was just waking up not knowing the tent was down, nor of my peril. I believe I was again saved from death or injury by the concerns and prayers of my Grandmother. She was concerned for my safety.
Grandmother would “tell it like it is.” On the summer range, a sheepherder killed a deer and hung it up near the camp. The herder who had shot the deer kept telling me that it was a bear. I asked Grandmother about that. Why did he keep telling me the deer was a bear? She explained to me that he was afraid that if the game warden came by and heard me talk about the deer that the herder had shot out of season then the herder would get in trouble. I knew that was the truth. I appreciated her telling me flat out what was really going on. I knew I could trust her absolutely.
Grandmother had little formal schooling. Nonetheless, she and Grandfather were thinkers and readers and Grandmother's mind was as busy and productive as her fingers. She found wisdom in good literature and classical poetry and taught what was uplifting and true. Grandmother's letters to her family included stanzas from great poetry, short sayings which taught and encouraged her family and her own philosophy and advice intended to keep her family on the straight and narrow.
She loved to garden and raise flowers. She had an eye for the natural beauty of the earth. My mother, Gracia Stewart Cook, told me that Grandmother would plant hollyhock seeds along the top of the mountain when she and Grandfather were traveling to and from Logan up over Sardine Canyon by horse and buggy. Maybe some of those hollyhocks still survive today?
Grandfather took personal care of Grandmother for a year or so while she was having stokes and attendant difficulty in Logan, Utah prior to her death. She died at only 66 years of age in 1947 when I was nine years old.
Grandfather lived alone until age 85 when he passed away, never having remarried continuing work as a temple ordinance worker in the Logan, Temple doing and hiring much genealogical research.
Jean Bain Livingston Cook's descendants are blessed to have a faithful great “Livingston Scottish lass” as one of their progenitors.
David S. Cook