Tracking down the grave of the Canadian hero of Little Bighorn
text and pictures by custerwest.org member Gary Neidert, from Canada
Started with joining custerwest.org after a trip to the Little Bighorn Battlefield. I became friends with the creator David Cornut who made me aware of Custer's adjudant who had been killed at the Little Bighorn. Being Canadian I would have never guessed that a fellow Canadian had even been in the US Cavalry! I decided to find out more about this man (other Canadian heroes of Little Bighorn include Lieutenant Donald McIntosh, from Montreal, newspaperman Mark Kellog, from Brighton and several soldiers).
This man was Col. William Winer Cooke who served during the American Civil War and eventually under Lt. Col. (bvt Maj. Gen.) George Armstrong Custer of the famous 7th Cavalry and whose body was found close by the General two days after the Battle. He is also known to have written the last command given to the traitor Capt. Frederick Benteen, "Benteen. Come On. Big village. Be quick. Bring packs. WW Cooke. P.S. Bring Packs". We of course know that these orders were never followed!
I read how his Family wanted his remains brought back to Canada to be buried in the Family plot in Hamilton, Ontario. I checked further and found out that he had been buried in the Hamilton Cemetery.
At this point my curiosity came to an end. I had been to Hamilton, Ontario before and knew that I would never be back.
However as fate may have it one year later my job required that I return to Oakville, Ontario which is a very short distance from Hamilton. I then decided that I must "hunt"
down the exact location of WW Cooke and take photographs to share.
I went online to find out where the Hamilton Cemetery was located and low and behold the information supplied me with a map and that one of the famous people buried there was WW Cooke. The Cemetery is located at 777 York Boulevard and the information included the Section that he was buried in.
Upon arriving at the Cemetery I found a map showing sections within the cemetery that directed me to the section that WW Cooke was buried. I walked around for a short while before finding his plot and marker.
There he was along with Winer Family members including his Mother. As you noticed from the photograph her marker states she is the Mother of Col. WW Cooke.
His marker is unique that it is not like the others. It appears that it should belong on the Battlefield. Notice the American flag in the picture. Obviously there are others that have "hunted" him down to honor this man.
I stayed a while thinking what this man may have been like and about the Battle that ended his life and that of GA Custer and what may have transpired if the traitor Benteen had shown up as ordered.
The monument of the Winer family.