Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden

Lillie Murphy Cook was born on April 24, 1897, in a home on the southwest corner of Gurley and McCormick Streets, to Henry and Cynthia Elizabeth Alfred Murphy. She was the child of a typical ranching family, so her address changed year-to-year as they rented a place for her mother to live in town and send Lillie and her brothers to school.

When Lillie started to attend Washington School, she was living with her grandparents on their ranch at the foot of Thumb Butte. Lillie and her brothers walked across town on Gurley Street to school, crossing the old wooden bridge at Granite Creek.

For a time Lillie and her family lived on Mt. Vernon Street, when you were allowed to keep a milk cow at home. The Murphys' cow used to run away and go down almost to Ft. Whipple. Lillie never forgot that when the kids would have to go after the cow, they had to pass a house where there was a little dog that was bound and determined to bite her. She had scars on her legs from those dog bites!

Lillie’s eyes lit up when she talked about dancing. She said she used to “rather dance than eat.” She learned to dance at age seven, and danced with her father a lot. She knew all the popular dances. Her first memories of dancing were in the Groom Creek schoolhouse. Later, while living in Camp Verde, she danced at Clear Creek.

Sometimes the country people would have a picnic and horse races. All the farmers would bring out their best teams to show off. And then, when nighttime came, they had a supper and a dance later on. Lillie lamented, “People don’t know what fun or a good time is any more.”

Lillie married Cecil Cook in 1919; they had one son, Floyd Herbert. After Cecil died in 1936, she acquired a little house on Willow Street where she lived with her mother and raised her son. It was a special house to her because as a teenager her youth group sponsor in the Methodist Church had owned it. This group leader used to let the young people go there for parties, pull taffy and string popcorn for Christmas decorations. Lillie had many happy days in that house and was glad to have it as her own.

Lillie worked for Hume’s Bakery on South Cortez Street for some 13 years, so long that a lot of people were of the opinion she owned the place. Every morning, she filled the oval window full of pastries and the house specialty, butter crust bread. She, of course, knew all the customers and enjoyed observing people.

Her historic memories included witnessing the 1900 fire on Whiskey Row, having Buckey O’Neill as a guest in her parents' home, and later watching her father help bring in the stone for O’Neill’s monument in the plaza. She also recalled coming to town in a wagon with a camp outfit for the rodeo, riding the streetcar, and her class planting the State Tree in 1912 when she was in the seventh grade.

Lillie Murphy Cook died on June 8, 1998, at the age of 101, survived by her son, four grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. She was buried in the family plot in the Odd Fellows Cemetery on South Virginia Street.

Donor: Mona Lange McCroskey
June 2005

Additional documentation and photographs may be available in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.