Wednesday, November 4, 2009

EWGS Presidents: Leora Cookingham Thiel

This is the second in the series on the Presidents of EWGS leading up to the 75th anniversary in 2010. See the previous post on Samuel Pool Weaver.

Mrs. John Jacob Thiel was born Leora Cookingham and was the second and sixth EWGS President. She held office in 1937-1938 and in 1945. Leora Thiel was also a founder of the Friends of the Library for Spokane Public Library. I found almost nothing on Leora's Cookingham family. It does look like an English family name, but there are no Cookinghams in England so it may be a derivative of another surname. John Jacob was the son of Jacob and Lizzie (Strombecker) Thiel, both Germans from Russia. The parents came to America in 1878 and lived in Franklin and Hitchcock counties of Nebraska, before coming to southern Idaho then Baker City and Walla Walla in 1882. In the spring if 1883 they drove to Adams County and homesteaded there. They raised four sons, John Jacob, Mike, Henry and Fred. I did not find as much on John Jacob as I thought I would, since he was born in Russia and grew up in Washington. The main reason was I kept disregarding information I found on the internet for John Thiel from Kansas, but when I found the biography of Fred Thiel, John's brother in the History of the Big Bend, it said John was a professor at Winfield College in Kansas. John died April 15, 1946 in Spokane at age 69 and was buried in the cemetery at Ritzville Washington. His obituary says he had lived in Spokane for 16 years and was associated with the County Auditors office and was survived by wife Leora, his three brothers and one sister.

Leora Thiel died January 3, 1950 in a local hospital. She was a charter member of Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, a member of Spokane Garry chapter , Daughters of American Revolution and the Friends of the Library. Her obit says John Thiel was the director of the 1940 census in Spokane. I checked the Ritzville cemetery and Leora is not listed there, and her obit says she was cremated.


Margaret said...

Thanks Charles; very interesting.
Enjoyed the meeting yesterday & know you are one of our PRIZE members w/all the time and energy you have put into so many projects. Of course, I also know the 'thrill' of 'finding' lost relatives; whether your own or someone else's. Have a Great Thanksgiving.

Sincerely, Maggie Hibbard

WebSurge, SA said...


Cookingham orginates from Guckenheim, Cockenheim, and a few other German variations. Leora is almost certainly a descendant of the two immigrant Cookingham ancestors of the family whom settled at Rhinebeck, NY circa 1750:

Johan Georg Kuchenheim and Daniel Kuckenheim.


Hunter Schultz