Lillie Elizabeth (Murphy) Cook was born on April 24, 1897, in a home on the southwest corner of Gurley and McCormick Streets in Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory, 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 to live in town in order to send Lillie and her brothers to school.
When Lillie began attending 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 Mount Vernon Street, when people could keep milk cows at home. The Murphys’ cow often ran away, going almost to Fort Whipple. Lillie never forgot that when the kids chased 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.” After learning to dance at age seven, she danced with her father a lot and learned 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 enjoyed having a picnic and horse races. All the farmers would bring out their best teams to show off. And when nighttime came, they had a supper and a dance. 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 when she was a teenager, her Methodist Church youth group sponsor had owned it. This group leader had hosted parties for young people that involved pulling taffy and stringing popcorn for Christmas decorations. Lillie had many happy memories of that house and was glad to have it as her own.
Lillie worked for Hume’s Bakery on S. Cortez Street for thirteen years, so long that many believed she owned the place. Every morning she filled the oval window with pastries and the house specialty, butter crust bread. She liked the job because she 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 driving to town in a wagon for the rodeo, riding the streetcar, and her seventh-grade class planting the State Tree in 1912.
Lillie (Murphy) Cook died on June 8, 1998, at the age of 101. She was survived by her son, four grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren. She was buried in the family plot in the Odd Fellows Cemetery on S. Virginia Street.
Donor: Mona Lange McCroskey, June 2005
Photo Located: Digital Format Only - I-Drive>Rose Garden Photos & Bios>RG TIFF Portraits>Cook, Lillie - Only Available in JPG Format
Updated: 5/12/2015; D. Sue Kissel