Dr. Robert W. Cooke -
1797-1867


Doctor Robert Woodruff Cooke was born January 21, 1797 in Newton, New Jersey – Sussex County.  He was the first son of Dr. Ambrose Ellis Cooke (1772-1828) and Sarah Piersall Wheeler (1774-1857), a prominent physician of Somerset County. Robert was one of ten children and the oldest male in the family. 

Robert Cooke studied medicine under his father’s training.  He moved to New York City where he studied at the The College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1817-1818 but did not graduate, which was not uncommon for physicians at that time.  He then practiced under the guidance of Dr. Valentine Mott, who went on to establish Rutgers Medical College.

 
On Jauary 20, 1823, Dr. R.W. Cooke, unmarried, bought 14.5 acres of land in Holmdel from Rutliff and Mary Smock - The Ramenessin Farm. On his new property, he built his office - the first medical office building used exclusively as a medical clinic.  The land is now occupied by The Village School on McCampbell Road.

Dr. Cooke married Susan Gansevoort (1805-1894) of Albany, New York on September 22, 1830.   By then, the large house he had built directly next to his office was ready.  Their children were:-
 
  •     Sarah Elizabeth (3/19/1831 - 11/21/1867)
  •     Dr. Henry Gansevoort (3/2/1833 - 2/12/1919)
  •     Ambrose Wheeler (11/23/1834 - 1/9/1926)
  •     Robert Woodruff (12/19/1837 - 10/4/1917)
  •     Conrad Gansevoort (3/5/1843 - 4/26/1844)

Dr. Cooke built an extensive pratice as doctor, surgeon and mentor.  One of his students was Hendrick H. Longstreet (1819-1891) of Holmdel's Longstreet Family, who studied under Dr. Cooke before receiving his Doctor of Medicine from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1842. Hendrick Longstreet left his parents farm in Holmdel and moved to Burlington County where he practiced medicine for many years.

Dr. Cooke practiced medicine in his Medical Office Building until he was too ill - age 70.  His death on December 27, 1867 was due to peritonitis from an ileocaecal osbstruction.  




 

On January 21, 1830, Postmaster General William E. Barry of Kentucky appointed Dr. Robert W. Cooke appointed as the first Postmaster of the first post office in Holmdel.  He had been treating patients in his medical office since 1823.  By 1830, he had his house built adjacent to his office.   With his duties as physician and surgeon, Dr. Cooke also held the Holmdel Postmaster position for 19 years.  Gilbert Van Mater took over in 1849.  

Both buildings still exist in 2017.  Dr. Cooke's office, at 67 McCambpell Road, is owned and maintained by The Holmdel Historical Society.  Dr. Cooke's office is the earliest known existing building built as a doctors office.   Dr. Cooke died at his home on McCampbell in 1867.  He died without a Last Will and Testament, however, before he died, he gave 120 acres to his son, Dr. Henry Cooke, 183 acres to his son, Ambrose W. Cooke and 200 acres to his son, Robert A. Cooke, Jr.

Son - Henry Gansevoort Cooke (1833-1919)

Son of  Dr. Robert Woodruff Cooke and Susan Gansevoort


Dr. Henry C. Cooke was born in Holmdel, NJ on February 3, 1933. He died at his home in New Brunswick, NJ on December 2, 1919 and was buried in the Cooke plot at the Old Brick Reformed Church Cemetery in Marlboro, NJ. 

Henry married Maria Burritt Cowdrey, daughter of Peter Anderson Cowdrey, Esq. and Maria Burritt, at New Rochelle, Westchester Co., New York, on June 8, 1876.  Their children were:-

  • Sara
  • Maria
  • Dr. Robert Anderson Sr.,
  • Henry
  • Edward
  • Susan

Henry Gansevoort Cooke Jr. attended Rutgers College in 1850 and gruadauted in 1853.  He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in 1898. 

He began his initial medical studies under his father and received his Master of Arts from Rutgers in 1856. He later studied under
Dr. Willard Parker of New York and took his M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York in 1857. He began his medical career by sharing his father's extensive practice in Holmdel and continued his practices in the village of Holmdel until 1905.


On October 13, 1909, Dr. Henry Cooke sold the Holmdel property and moved to New Brunswick, NJ.  He died December 2, 1919.
Grandson - Robert Anderson Cooke
(1880-1960)

Grandson of Dr. Robert Woodroffe Cooke
​Son of  Dr. Henry Gansevoort Cooke and Maria Burritt Cowdrey


​  
Robert Anderson Cooke, Sr., was born on August 18, 1880 in Holmdel, NJ.   Robert was the first male and third of six children born in the family of Henry Gansevoort Cooke and Maria Burritt Cowdrey.
 
Like his father and grandfather, Robert Cooke developed an interest in medicine under his father’s training.  As a young boy growing up on the Cooke estate in Holmdel, he suffered from asthma, especially near horses.  Robert attended Rutgers and graduated with the class of 1900.
 
Robert Cooke moved to New York and attended College of Physicians and Surgeons.  His job while working at the Presbyterian Hospital was to ride on the horse-drawn ambulances.  When the driver whipped the horses, dander would fly into his nose and throat, causing him to suffer severe allergic reactions.  He chose to study this phenomenon and became a noted allergist.  Dr. Cooke graduated College of Physicians and
Surgeons in 1904.
 
In 1918, Dr. Cooke opened an Asthma and Hay Fever Clinic at Roosevelt Hospital.  In 1923, he founded the Study of Asthma and Allied Conditions.  In 1938, he established the Association of Allergy Clinics of Greater New York.  In 1947, he wrote Allergy in Theory and Practice”.


Dr. Robert Anderson Cooke, Sr., died at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City on May 7, 1960.  He is buried in the Cooke Family plot at Red Brick Dutch Reformed Church in Marlboro, New Jersey.