Research Thoughts

She Was Hopeful Till the End – Part 2

To Continue:

After the divorce, life went on for both Harry H. Cook, and Martha Paine Cook. Martha immersed herself in doing good works in the Oshkosh community while living with her aging parents, and Harry continued, as he had been, traveling from New Jersey to Florida, hoping for a cure.

The official date of the 1930 Federal Census was April 1, 1930. On this date, Martha was enumerated as residing with her father in Oshkosh, her mother having passed away on December 23, 1929. She is stated as being 35 years of age, divorced, with no occupation. Living with them in the family home at 870 Algoma Blvd, is a cook, 52 year old Mary Warnke, and a maid, 20 year old Hildegard Frailing. [1]

Later that year, on December 3, 1930, Martha married Drew O. Johnston, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a mechanical engineer by trade. [2]  I am assuming that they met sometime in 1927, or shortly thereafter. Drew had for decades split his time between Pittsburgh, and wintering in Palm Beach, Florida, where the Phil H. Sawyer family also spent their winters. The Philetus (Phil) Horace Sawyer family are part of the founding families of Oshkosh, and in the late 20s a prominent family in the Oshkosh community. It is certain that the Paine and Sawyer families would have known each other, at the very least on a social level. But how would Martha have met Drew Johnston? On November 19, 1927, Drew’s daughter Elizabeth Meyers Johnston, married Phil H. Sawyer, Jr., in a small private ceremony in Oshkosh, [3] and it is in Oshkosh that this young couple made their home, and lived out their lives. 

The Johnston marriage appears to have been a happy marriage, filled with friends and family; travel between Pittsburgh and Palm Beach, along with frequent travels abroad. Drew’s daughter, Betty and her family, and his son Drew M. Johnston and his family, were frequent visitors to Palm Beach. It must have been with great excitement and anticipation that Drew and Martha learned that they were expecting in 1935. Their daughter, who they named Ardra Paine Johnston, was born August 1, 1935 in Pittsburgh. Sadly, she would pass away in Rochester, Olmstead Co., Minnesota on January 18, 1936. [4]  For me, Rochester means just one thing, the Mayo Clinic. I have ordered her death record, so time will tell, but it must have been devastating to lose their five month old daughter. Drew and Martha would celebrate 28 years of marriage before Drew passed away in Palm Beach, at the age of 81, December 12, 1958. [5]  He was buried in the family plot in Highwood Cemetery in Pittsburgh. [6]

The enumerator of the Atlantic City 1930 Federal Census, visited Harry on April 2, 1930. He was living in the Ambassador Bungalow in Atlantic City, Atlantic Co., New Jersey, listed as being 49 years of age, Divorced, and Retired. He was paying a monthly rent of $333.00, and enumerated with him was 38 year old, Jessie Carter Duncan, a widow, who was living with him in the role of Servant/Nurse, her occupation was enumerated as a Nurse. [7] 

News reached Edwin Yule in Alexandria, Indiana, on January 23, 1931, that Harry’s health “had taken a turn for the worse.” Edwin and his wife immediately left for New Jersey, [8] where Harry passed away two days later on January 25th. Unfortunately, Harry’s sister Maud, and her husband, Charles, were in Paris, so his funeral arrangements were delayed, but plans were made to bring his body immediately to Neenah by train, with a stop in Chicago to change trains for the trip north. Executives of the Alexandria Paper Company, and friends of the family met the train in Chicago, and traveled to Neenah together. [9] At some point during the trip, the decision to go ahead with the funeral and burial were made, and the funeral cortege went immediately from the train station that Wednesday afternoon, January 28th, to Oak Hill Cemetery where a brief funeral service was conducted at 2:15 p.m. at the cemetery chapel, by Rev. D. C. Jones the pastor of the Presbyterian church. [10] Harry is buried in the Cook Plot, just to the front of the Cook monument, and the only other full sized grave next to his parents.

Shortly after Harry’s death, on February 3, 1931, Edwin Yule was appointed administrator of the estate. [11] Details of his will were published in the newspaper August 11, 1931, when it was admitted for probate so as to arrange payment of a $50,000 insurance policy to the estate, the insurance was to be inherited by his sister, Maud. The article states that the original will bequeathed one-third of his property to his wife, Martha; one third to his sister, Maud, and one-third to be held in trust for his son, Hosford. “On May 14, 1927, following the death of his child and the filing of a suit for divorce by his wife, the late manufacturer wrote a codicil to the will bequeathing $15,000 to Jessie C. Duncan in addition to all pay due her for services, and the residue to go to his sister. [12] On this same date Edwin W. Yule and Maud Cook Lancaster, qualified as executors of his estate, and as stated above, filed the will for probate. [13]

Maud received as part of the balance of the estate all property, including stocks and real estate. The estate holdings were published in The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune on February 25, 1933, and were said to include: “one-half interest in home property in Neenah, Wis., one-half interest in seven lots in Orono, [Hennepin Co.] Minn.; certain interests in lumber lands in Canada; 950 shares of common stock in the Alexandria Paper Company; 423 shares in the Phillips Company, of Chicago; 17 shares Anderson Banking Company stock; 13 shares in Manufacturers National Bank, Neenah, Wis., and 30 shares in the Great Northern Life Insurance Company.” [14] On March 17, 1933, the estate was finally settled, and closed. [15] What I find interesting about the above list, is that it does not include any of the physical property that was associated with the Alexandria Paper Company, just common stock shares. But that is a topic for another blog post.

After Drew’s passing, Martha continued to winter in the home that they had shared in Palm Beach. She kept her ties to Oshkosh, spending her summers residing with her niece, and serving as an “Art Center trustee” of what is now known as the Paine Art Center and Gardens, a house museum built and founded by her Uncle Nathan Paine, and his wife, Jessie Kimberly Paine. [16] Martha passed away January 16, 1993, in Palm Beach, Florida. She was 97 years old. She was “laid to rest in the Paine Family Mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery, Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Friday, January 22, 1993.” [17]

I have to admit that I am left deeply saddened by this story. The details are still not fully developed, as court records would need to be reviewed, land deeds looked at, and the total melded together to get a better picture. Over the next few blog posts I will attempt to tell the story of the company that Samuel Andrew Cook built with such pride, hope, and vision. 


  1. 1930 U.S. census, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Oshkosh City, Twelfth Ward, enumeration district (ED) 70-38, sheet 28, p. 58A, dwelling 612, family 623, Edward W. Paine household; digital images, ( : accessed 25 Mar 2003); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 2620.
  2. Johnston-Cook Wedding is Solemnized,” (Oshkosh) The Daily Northwestern, 3 Dec 1930, p. 8, col. 5. Cit. Date: 11 Aug 2004.
  3. “Sawyer-Johnston Wedding Is One of Quiet Charm,” The Daily Northwestern, 21 Nov 1927, p. 16, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  4. “Baby Passes Away,” The Oshkosh Northwestern, 20 Jan 1936, p. 4, col 2; digital images, ( : accessed 29 Jun 2016).
  5. Pittsburgh Rites Are Scheduled For Mr. Johnston,” The Palm Beach Post-Times, 14 Dec 1958, p. 10, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  6. “Deaths and Funerals. Drew Johnston,” The Palm Beach News, 17 Dec 1938, p. 24, col. 3; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  7. 1930 U. S. census, Atlantic County, New Jersey, population schedule, Atlantic City, 4th Ward, enumeration district (ED) 1-31, sheet 1, p. 81B, dwelling 29, family 23, Henry H. Cook household; digital images, ( : accessed 25 Mar 2003); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626.
  8. Harry Cook Critically Ill at Atlantic City,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 23 Jan 1931, front page, col. 3; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2016).
  9. “Harry H. Cook Died Suddenly Atlantic City,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 26 Jan 1931, front page, col. 7; digital images, ( : accessed 24 May 2016).
  10. “Harry H. Cook, Former Neenah Resident, Dies,” (Oshkosh) Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, 27 an 1931, p. 9, col. 3. Cit. Date: 26 Mar 2003.
  11. “Legal. Notice of Appointment,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 4 Feb 1931, front page, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2016).
  12. Cook’s Sister Gets Large Part of His Estate,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 11 Aug 1931, front page, col. 5; digital images, ( : accessed 19 May 2016).
  13. “LEGAL. Notice of Appointment,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 25 Aug 1931, p. 2, col. 4; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2016).
  14. “Final Report Filed In Harry Cook Estate,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 25 Feb 1933, p. 3, col. 5; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2016).
  15. “LEGAL,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 13 Mar 1933, p. 4, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2016).
  16. “Paine Center Founder Donates Silver Piece,” The Appleton Post-Crescent, 27 Sep 1964, p. A12. Cit. Date: 11 Aug 2004.
  17. Funeral Notices. Martha Paine Johnston,” The Palm Beach Post, 20 Jan 1993, p. 3B, col. 2; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
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  1. Ardra sundberg

    Hello! It is quite by accident that I hv come to your most interesting and valuable site. I am Ardra Hall Johnston/Sundberg and am of course Martha Paine Wheeler Cook Johnston’s granddaughter. I would like to hvfurther contact with u regarding my darling Grandmother! How is it that u hv so much information about her? R u relater to the family in Oshkosh?

    I am at the moment visiting in Miami but live in Brussels.

    1. Susan C Fassbender

      I am so sorry that I missed this response to my blog post. I will have to check my notification settings. I have sent you an email response. Thank you for reaching out to me.

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