Roy Bird Cook Header Image

Roy Bird Cook (1886-1961)

Born in Lewis County, near Roanoke, West Virginia, Roy Bird Cook began working in a drug store when he was still in grade school. By the time he graduated from Roanoke High, he had served a five-year apprenticeship which included tasks ranging from filling simple prescriptions to manufacturing pills.

In 1905, with a home study pharmacy certificate under his belt, Cook took the State Board of Pharmacy exam and passed with high grades. At nineteen years of age, he became the state's youngest certified pharmacist.

In the years that followed, Cook went on to become a leader in the field of pharmacy and pharmaceutical retailing, both locally and nationally. Among the many professional achievements of his career which spanned 56 years, were appointments to some of the most prestigious posts in his profession, including the presidency of both the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and American Pharmaceutical Association. In recognition of his accomplishments, Cook received numerous awards during his life including the American Pharmaceutical Association's coveted Remington Award, and an honorary doctorate from West Virginia University.

In addition to a passion for his vocation, Dr. Cook had an avocation about which he was equally passionate, and in which field his achievements were no less remarkable - the study and preservation of state and local history.

Cook began studying and collecting information about the early settlement of his native county when he was still in his teens. By his mid-twenties, he had firmly established himself as a leading authority on that subject through the publication of an extended series of "Pioneer Sketches of Lewis County" which appeared in the Weston Independent in 1916 and 1917. Many significant contributions on state and local history to this and numerous other newspapers throughout the state followed in the ensuing years.

Reared in "Stonewall" Jackson Country, Cook became steeped in the lore of the Civil War by talking to elderly neighbors who had witnessed the conflict and had known General Jackson personally. Drawing upon these reminiscences and data culled from local records and private papers, Cook penned detailed accounts of this tumultuous period in West Virginia history that became landmarks in the field. Published in 1924, Cook's The Family and Early Life of Stonewall Jackson became the foundation upon which all subsequent early biographies on Jackson would be based, enjoying five printings in as many decades. Published in the same year, his book chronicling Lewis County in the Civil War remains one of the most detailed studies of its kind.

In addition to his efforts as a writer, Cook played a leading role in promoting the study and preservation of West Virginia history throughout the early twentieth century. He shepherded the resurrection of the West Virginia Historical Society in 1939 and served as the first editor for the Society's quarterly journal West Virginia History. As a member of the West Virginia Commission on Historic and Scenic Markers, he was responsible for the erection of signs demarking prominent historic sites across the state. As a member of the War History Commission he spearheaded the effort to preserve records documenting the state's military history during the World War II era. He also served as a consultant and advisor on the development of the State 4-H Camp at Jackson's Mill.

A voracious personal collector, Cook also contributed greatly to the preservation efforts of the State Department of Archives and History which was directed by his wife, Eleanor Jones Poling Cook, during the late 1940s and early 1950s. He was a tireless promoter of West Virginia public libraries and served as a trustee of the Kanawha County Public Library for the last eighteen years of his life. His contributions in this regard were recognized by a merit award from the West Virginia Library Association just four years before his death.

Roy Bird Cook Collections in the West Virginia and Regional History Center

The Roy Bird Cook Collections preserved in the West Virginia and Regional History Center comprise approximately 27 linear feet of materials including correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts, newspapers, maps, photographs, pamphlets and assorted other archival resources. One of the most outstanding personal collections of historical manuscripts relating to early West Virginia history, the collection touches upon many subjects. Its greatest strengths rest in its holdings relating to the Civil War, Stonewall Jackson and his family, and the history and genealogy of North Central West Virginia.

For a description of the entire collection please consult the West Virginia and Regional History Center's homepage at:

31st Flag Records of the 31st Virginia infantry Regiment, C.S.A. The 31st Virginia was formed in the early weeks of the Civil War when General Robert E. Lee ordered the recruitment of troops to protect the railroad lines running through western Virginia's northern counties. On May 4, Lee appointed Col. George Porterfield to assume command of these forces which were being raised primarily in Taylor, Marion, Harrison, Monongalia, and Barbour counties.

In the next few weeks these raw recruits found themselves in the war's first arena, a tactical struggle for control of the Confederacy's northwestern flank - the hills, rails and rivers of what would soon become the nation's 35th state, West Virginia.

Composed of some of the war's earliest recruits, in the years that followed, the 31st Virginia Infantry would see action under generals Garnett, William L. "Mudwall" Jackson, Jones and Imboden, Stonewall Jackson, Jubal Early and many more legendary Confederate commanders, at battles including Carrick's Ford, Cross Keys, Cold Harbor, Gettysburg, New Market and other engagements too numerous to mention. Approximately 57 of the 850 men who joined the regiment in 1861, witnessed Lee's surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.

A detailed history of the 31st Virginia by James Dell Cooke is available on-line by selecting the description for folder 1561_02.01.14A,B,C in the table below. Researchers are also referred to John M. Ashcraft's 31st Virginia Infantry (H. H. Howard, 1988).

The documents, transcripts and other materials included in the following table are arranged according to the original document folder in which they are stored. By clicking on the description, you may access folders which contain thumbnail, full screen, and in many cases high resolution versions of each document. Click on a thumbnail to view a larger, full screen version or download the high resolution jpg file. Documents have not been individually described or cataloged, as yet, but may be browsed using the navigation buttons at the top and bottom of each page.

Original Document Folder Documents, Transcripts, and Other Materials on the 31st - Content Description
1561_02.01.01 (16 images) Death Notices, Desertions, Discharges, and Furloughs; 1862-1864
1561_02.01.02 (15 images) Financial Records;1862-64
1561_02.01.03 (16 images) Judicial Matters; 1862, 1864
1561_02.01.04 (110 images) Military Correspondence; 1861-64
1561_02.01.05 (93 images) Military Orders; 1861-65 x
1561_02.01.07 (22 images) Misc. (incl photos, maps, clippings, etc); 1836, 1864-65, 1907, 1941, no date
1561_02.01.08 (4 images) Letters to Roy Bird Cook - (3 items regarding the VA 31st); 1922, 1930, 1949
1561_02.01.09 (19 images) Correspondence and Papers of D.C. Gallaher; 1892, 1895, 1913
1561_02.01.10 (17 images) Confederate Soldiers of Pocahontas County (Listing); no date
1561_02.01.11 (5 images) Upshur County in the Civil War - Upshur Grays (Co. B, 25th VA Infantry Regiment); no date
1561_02.01.12 (8 images) Lewis County Citizens in the Confederate States Army (Company I, 31st Va); no date
1561_02.01.13 (60 images) Company Book: Company I, 31st VA Regiment, Camp Bunker Hill; 1862-63
1561_02.01.14A,B,C (167 images) A History of the 31st Virginia Regiment Volunters, C.S.A. by James Dell Cooke, 1955
Page image version      PDF version
1561_02.01.binder (32 images) William L. Jackson, Commander, 31st VA Infantry Regiment (includes photos and facscimiles of military records); 1861-65
1561_02.02.vol.1 (166 images) Transcripts Re Members of the 31st VA Infantry and Others: 1851, 1855, 1861-65, 1898, 1911, 1926-42, no date
1561_02.02.vol.2 (48 images) Major W.P. Cooper - Transcripts of Papers and Journals; 1860-65l
1561_02.02.vol.3 (355 images) Transcripts Re 31st VA Infantry Regiment (includes correspondence, judicial matters, orders, and company rosters); 1861-65
1561_02.03.01 (25 images) Semi-Monthly Reports; Lost or Destroyed Property Reports; 1861-64
1561_02.03.02a (12 images) Captain's Monthly Returns; Jan, Feb, Mar, and July 1862
1561_02.03.02b (12 images) Captain's Monthly Returns; Mar, April, May, and July, 1862
1561_02.03.02c (10 images) Captain's Monthly Returns; August and September, 1862
1561_02.03.02d (14 images) Captain's Monthly Returns; October and November, 1862
1561_02.03.02e (12 images) Captain's Monthly Returns; June, Nov and Dec, 1862; May, Nov-Dec, 1863
1561_02.03.03 (15 images) Abstract of Monthly Payments; 1862-1864 (incomplete)
1561_02.03.04 (8 images) Abstract of Stationery Issued; 1862-64
1561_02.03.05a (11 images) Lists of Officers; 1861-62
1561_02.03.05b (11 images) Lists of Officers; 1862-63
1561_02.03.05c (10 images) Lists of Officers; 1863-64
1561_02.03.06a (13 images) Payroll and Clothing Distribution Records; 1862-1863
1561_02.03.06b (13 images) Payroll and Clothing Distribution Records; 1863-1864
1561_02.03.06c (7 images) Payroll and Clothing Distribution Records; 1863-1864
1561_02.03.07a (13 images) Descriptive Lists and Accounting of Pay and Clothing Records; 1861-1863
1561_02.03.07b (17 images) Descriptive Lists and Accounting of Pay and Clothing Records; 1863-1864
1561_02.03.08a (16 images) Morning Reports; Jan, Jun-Aug, 1861
1561_02.03.08b (16 images) Morning Reports; August, 1861
1561_02.03.08c (15 images) Morning Reports; Sept, 1861
1561_02.03.08d (14 images) Morning Reports; Sept, 1861
1561_02.03.08e (20 images) Morning Reports; Oct., 1861
1561_02.03.08f (22 images) Morning Reports; Oct, Nov, 1861
1561_02.03.08g (20 images) Morning Reports; Nov, 1861
1561_02.03.08h (20 images) Morning Reports; Dec, 1861
1561_02.03.08i (16 images) Morning Reports; Dec, 1861
1561_02.03.08j (18 images) Morning Reports; Jan, 1862
1561_02.03.08k (20 images) Morning Reports; Feb, Mar, Apr, 1862
1561_02.03.08l (18 images) Morning Reports; Apr-Sept, 1862
1561_02.03.08m (19 images) Morning Reports; Nov, Dec, 1862; Jan, April, June, Aug, Sept, 1863
1561_02.03.08n (14 images) Morning Reports and Morning Reports; Nov, Dec, 1863
1561_02.03.08o (16 images) Morning Reports; Dec, 1863; Jan, 1864
1561_02.03.08p (19 images) Morning Reports; Jan, Feb, Mar, 1864 (others with no date)
1561_02.03.08q (10 images) Morning Reports; Jan, 1864 (others with no date)
1561_02.03.09a (12 images) Muster Rolls (includes mostly officers); 1863-64
1561_02.03.09b (16 images) Muster Rolls (includes mostly officers); 1861-64; no date
1561_02.03.10 (7 images) Misc. (includes 8 items: Muster Roll, Captain's Monthly Returns, and Morning Reports; 1861-62.