Friday, March 25, 2011

Myrix Josiah Williams, 1811 - 1897

Myrix Josiah Williams

Myrix Josiah Williams, tall, aloof.
Welsh Merricks and Williames, stand behind.
Tiny Glencoe, K  Y offered proof,
Smallest anchor, the largest bark would bind.

Legislator, long Magistracy post,
Large crops, grand home, the finest riding horse.
Leisured breakfast; he read the Journal close.
Life warranted, sustained by slaves, of course. 

Three wives, ten children, Grand Masonic rank. 
Admired greatly, Myrix, by many men.
His eminence increased before it sank.
Took sides against his country; didn't win. 

Acknowledge ancestry with due respect.
But proffer admiration circumspect.

Copyright 2011, Richard Baldwin Cook

This sonnet appears in SPLENDID LIVES and OTHERWISE: Sonnets of Remembrance (Nativa LLC 2011) available at

Written in 2011: Myrix Williams, great grandfather X 3, was born two hundred years ago this year. A Mason, magistrate, legislator, slave-owner, husband of three (widowed twice - his first wife was great grandmother X 3, Junietta Gouge) - Myrix was tall, horse-faced, a no-nonsense dude, who believed in self-restraint and in everyone else doing his biding. 

Happy Birthday Myrix.

We are glad for your life but not for all of the values you brought to it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


patrickhenry.jpg (496×599)
1736 – 1799

From border lands they came to claim a place,
In furth’est reaches of the royal realm.
Scots Irish, coming poor was no disgrace,
Proud, clannish, they’d the Red Coats overwhelm.

Parliament overreach they frowned upon
To fight and ‘haps to die caused them no balk.
Treat “lowland troubles” with the musket balm.
King barred them from the west? An end to talk!

The Henrys and the Winstons led the fight,
Railed, rallied neighbors, honored yet the king.
These borderers enraged when might trumps right.
Said might serves right, free people’s freedoms ring.

Think cousin Patrick’s views were some extreme?
Cut off the grasping hand! No in between!

Copyright 2011 Richard Baldwin Cook
PATRICK HENRY is a collateral ancestor of the poet. 

This sonnet appears in SPLENDID LIVES AND OTHERWISE: Sonnets of Remembrance (Nativa LLC) 2011, available at


March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered the decisive oratory at a meeting of the Burgesses, Saint John's Church, Richmond, Virginia. Both Washington and Jefferson were present.
Did Patrick Henry actually say, 'Give me liberty or death?' Who knows? His oratory was hypnotic but his hearers had trouble remembering exactly what he had said. 

Jefferson on Henry: 
"Although it was difficult, when [Henry] had spoken, to tell what he had said, yet, while speaking, it always seemed directly to the point. When he had spoken in opposition to my opinion, had produced a great effect, and I myself had been highly delighted and moved, I have asked myself, when he ceased, 'What the devil has he said?' and could never answer the inquiry." ("Liberty or Death Speech," Charles Cohen, 38 William and Mary Quarterly 4 (pp. 702-717).

Portrait of Patrick Henry by George Bagby Matthews, Senate Website, Public Domain

Sunday, March 20, 2011


John G Feller, young citizen and vet
Of 1812, then his homestead he’d fix
In Shenandoah, but John G’d not get,
A land grant like the vets of ’76.

Not social, yet a joiner was John G,
In iron works, scattered in the Valley round.
Formed wood molds for hot iron poured carefully.
Such toil for food and shelter, John G found.

G after John may not a lone G be.
Gefeller got quick shortened by the clerk.
No matter how recalled in history.
John recalled down his line for clever work.

Drawn South, German colonials from P A,
They’re found in Shenandoah to this day. 

Copyright 2011 Richard Baldwin Cook

JOHN G FELLER is a lineal ancestor of the poet. 

This sonnet appears in SPLENDID LIVES AND OTHERWISE: Sonnets of Remembrance (Nativa LLC) 2011, available at

Saturday, March 19, 2011



By Richard Baldwin Cook 

Young Jonah came alone but well prepared,
To prairie Springfield, OH, ‘bout eighteen-four.
Anglican, a drover and surveyor,
He opened up a tavern and held court.

Not long 'fore Sarah Scott had caught his eye.
They wed when she was not above fifteen.
Childbirth most likely caused this child to die.
Leaving small ones to Jonah’s harsh regime.

He took another wife and raised them all.
Food, shelter, clothing, books, them to be read.
He’d met the great Tecumseh, watched him fall.
A people unprepared, a nation’s dread.

The skills that such as Jonah Baldwin brings,
The gifts that made White prairie men be kings.

Copyright 2011 Richard Baldwin Cook

JONAH BALDWIN (1777-1864) is a lineal ancestor of the poet. He and Sarah were the parents of Jane Hedges Baldwin, who married Marmaduke Moore and was the mother of Benjamin Moore, husband of Aurelia Mayo and father of Mary Baldwin Moore, wife of John Oliver Taylor Sr, who were the parents of John Taylor Jr. - grandfather of this boy speaking to you.  

This sonnet appears in SPLENDID LIVES AND OTHERWISE: Sonnets of Remembrance (Nativa LLC) 2011, available at

Friday, March 18, 2011


Updike: We need more worlds. This one will fail.
Entitled is each one of us to die.
Lifts Nature from us all weight; furls our sail.
Imagine if the opposite apply.

All joys foreseen, pains endlessly expand.
Centuries pass, long decades days become.
The endless  drab sunrise, no longer grand.
Food, cohabit, ideas; all this benumb.   

For nothing live, as living on is sure.
We savor only what we know must end.
If accident or sickness will not cure
Our wander, sui caedere final friend.

Dream you of endless Heaven, dreadful Hell?
The soundest tree must fall, bleed out its sap.
Accept; embrace, that last expiring knell,
A foretaste, daily twenty minute nap.

To live is grand but grand in brackets comes.
The final gift: all life starts, then succumbs.