Cook Family Skits / Reader’s Theater

1829-1840 – Youth

  1. Goodbye to Grandfather

    3 Characters: 2 men and 1 boy

    Ten-year-old Phineas Wolcott Cook is caught up in the family economic crisis and has to quit school. His father has taken another job, and reminds the boy he knows the farm well enough and can do half a man's work. As he takes responsibility for the family farm, young Phineas learns of his Grandfather Jonathan Churchill's love of the Lord and about the ancient history of America at the death of Jesus Christ.

  2. Beginning Anew

    4 Characters: 2 males, 1 female, 1 female reader

    By the summer of 1837 the Cook family has given up hope of saving the family farm, which had been in the family five generations. Phineas Senior went to Michigan, leaving enough money with his family to get along until they can come too. But hard times are ahead for all of them. Phineas Junior took a job in Norfolk to earn money for the trip and learned his mother and sisters had been evicted. When his employer can't pay him, he has to borrow money from his mother, who promises to be a good bill collector when they all arrive in Michigan.

  3. Ague in Adrian

    4 Characters: 2 males, Train Operator and Narrator

    At age 17, Phineas has traveled with his brother Daniel from Connecticut to Michigan on the Erie Canal and the Lake Erie Steamboat. On the little train in eastern Michigan, he suffers ague and is too sick to walk. Nevertheless, he prepares to walk 100 miles to Richland where his father is living.

  4. Thirty-six Dollars and a Wife

    5 or 6 Characters: 4 males, 1 female, Narrator

    Phineas Wolcott Cook came to Richland, Michigan in 1837 and has helped his father all summer to make a farm. However, he owes his mother $36 and she will be there from Connecticut in the spring. Knowing she will want her money, young Phineas hires on with Henry Howland at Ross; then falls in love with Henry's daughter. Henry isn't impressed with this young man of 18 who asks to marry a 15-year old and then nearly chops off his own leg. Phineas returns home too injured to help his father on the farm, but determined not to forget Ann Eliza Howland.

  5. Would I Serve The Lord

    6 Characters: 4 males, 1 female, angel

    Phineas W. Cook has been in Michigan one year, and has the ague and fever so bad he has been unconscious for days. The doctor and the priest are called, but the doctor ejects the priest and advises Phineas to be ready to die. After everyone leaves, an angel comes into the room and asks Phineas a question. His answer determines his focus and commitment to the end of his life.

  6. Bitters for Uncle Phin

    3 Characters: 2 men and 1 woman

    Phineas W. Cook and his sister Mary Ann are troubled because the doctor has no time during an outbreak of the fever to come to their house. Their father suffers from the fever, but refuses to take medicine unless the doctor recommends it. Young Phineas is also recovering from the fever and needs his father to help on the farm. He and Mary Ann hatch a plan to trick their father into thinking the doctor has come.

  7. A Bear Among the Pigs

    9 Characters: 6 males, 2 females and a bear

    A bear comes into the neighborhood in Richland, Michigan, and all the men assemble to overcome it. In the words of Phineas W. Cook's journal, the action takes place with the Cooks, the neighbors, the bear, and Irene standing guard at the door of their house with a broom.

1840-1845 - Marriage and Family

  1. Finding Religion

    4 Characters: 2 males, 1 female, 1 angel

    Phineas W. Cook has not forgotten the promise he made when an angel asked, "Would you like to serve the Lord if you knew the right way?" In 1840 he hears about revival meetings at Gull Corners, and makes up his mind to go. At the meetings many pray for him as a true seeker of faith and religion, but he is unable to feel the Spirit and testify of the truth as they are preaching it. Finally, honoring his promise to the angel, he joins the Methodists when the preacher promises that "all churches are on the way to heaven."

  2. A Liberal Salvation for Man

    3 Characters: 2 males and 1 female

    Phineas W. Cook is puzzled by the disappearance of his chickens from the coop. When the Methodist preacher comes to chastise him for creating conflict in meetings, Phineas maintains he can never believe there are some of God's children destined to be damned to all eternity. He bears witness that God intended a more liberal salvation for the family of man, and the preacher cuts him off from the church. Phineas discovers it is easier to save chickens than to understand how to save mankind.

1845 – Conversion

  1. Give Those Mormons Jesse

    5 or 6 Characters: 3 or 4 males; 2 females

    Phineas and Irene Cook have been to the Mormon meetings, and are instantly converted. They convince their son Phineas W. to go to the next meeting, but he has heard so many preachers he is somewhat disillusioned. He finally agrees to go, but only if he can "give them Jesse" by taking paper and pencil to record and expose their lies. What happens is a surprise to everyone—including himself. In the end the missionary asks why he didn't argue, and Phineas replies: "You have told us the truth, and it is not my province to raise my voice against it."

  2. Hiding the Book of Mormon

    5 Characters: 3 males and 2 females

    Phineas W. Cook and his wife Ann Eliza have studied the Mormon Church and are convinced it is God's restored religion. However, his parents have suddenly turned against the church, and refuse to allow him to read the Book of Mormon or any other literature. Feeling certain this is the religion to help him serve the Lord, Phineas devises clever ways to read the Book of Mormon; but when he and Ann Eliza are baptized the family is upset. Phineas has plenty of opportunities to bear faithful witness to the truth.

  3. God Will Provide

    7 Characters: 4 males, 2 females, Narrator

    Irene Cook runs a boarding house in Richland, Michigan. She has enlisted her son Phineas W. to help. He works in the stable with their animals and assists in cooking breakfast. Irene loses no opportunity to harass Phineas W. about his new religion. She inspires the boarders to tell lies about the Mormons, which gives him opportunity to teach the truths of the gospel. When Phineas is called by a missionary to gather with the saints at Nauvoo, he faithfully believes that, even in his extreme poverty, somehow God will provide a way.

  4. The Toothache

    3 Characters: 2 males and 1 angel (or just a voice)

    Salmon Hall is the husband of Phineas W. Cook's sister Eliza. A member of the LDS Church himself, Salmon is determined to help Phineas "get away from Babylon" to be with the Saints. He offers a team of four oxen, which Phineas gratefully accepts. However, there is still suffering ahead because Phineas suffers from a terrible toothache. As he thinks of both his blessings and his pain, he hears a voice in the corn shed, giving him advice about how to heal his toothache.

1846-47 – Michigan to Winter Quarters

  1. Decision at Gull Corners

    6 Characters: 3 males, 2 females, narrator

    Having spent the whole winter building and outfitting a wagon so his family can gather with the Saints, Phineas W. Cook finds his parents make it almost impossible for them to leave. His food, tools and money for the trip are stolen and his brother-in-law Salmon Hall withdraws his offer to provide four oxen to pull the wagon. Phineas needs more than one miracle to follow the prophet, and the miracles are provided. One of the miracles is what happens at Gull Corners when his heart is heavy at leaving his family and home.

  2. Apostates at Walnut Creek

    6 Characters: 3 males, 1 female, friend, Narrator, (2 additional females if the dream is acted out)

    Phineas W. Cook and his family arrive at Walnut Creek, Illinois after two weeks on the trail. When they share their plans to go to Nauvoo, William Smith and his group of Apostate Mormons spent the whole week trying to discourage him from going with the Church. He becomes so concerned about the false doctrines they preach and about the doctrine of plural wives, he spends all night under a tree praying for guidance. His answer shows how Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need.

  3. Rising Water

    Characters: 2 males, 1 female and 1 Narrator

    Traveling from Michigan to be with the Saints, the Cooks are faced with almost constant rain, flooding, and his recurring malaria. River crossings are so dangerous, one of Phineas's oxen is strained and appears to be dying in spite of his doctoring. Finally he is inspired to lay his hands on the head of the ox and give it a blessing. That miracle combined with his untiring efforts to help everyone traveling with them help him realize God is with them.

  4. Fire and Indians

    5 Characters: 3 males, 2 females

    Phineas W. Cook has crossed the Missouri River, bringing his family within a few miles of the settlement at Winter Quarters, but is forced to stop because of the birth of their child Eliza. Seth Taft and a few other families camp with them, infuriating the Indians. The little band of isolated Saints endure an Indian attack and the constant threat of fires started by the Indians to frighten them away. Their faith is about all that sustains them as they prepare to move into the main settlement.

  5. A House at Winter Quarters

    Characters: 2 males, 1 female and 1 Narrator

    After a journey of more than five months, Phineas Cook is building a house at Winter Quarters for his family. His money is gone, and he finds his luck is down when he tries to carve a door casing and badly injures his foot with the axe. Waiting for the foot to heal while his family endures November snow is hard for all of them, but when he gets up to earn some money his foot won't let him finish the job. He could have become discouraged, but stated in his journal: "I resolved not to complain, come what would."

  6. The Hand of the Lord

    Characters: 3 males, 1 female

    Brigham Young has worked with Phineas Wolcott Cook all winter, and is now ready to take a few good men to the Salt Lake Valley to build Zion. But when he asks Phineas to go with them, he is disappointed. Phineas has fallen on hard times. His wife and baby are dying, and he is also weak and sick from lack of food. At the same time his friend Chauncey Webb urges him to save his family by coming with him to Missouri to work. In spite of seemingly endless opposition, Phineas remains obedient to his church leaders. He maintains in his journal that he can "see the hand of the Lord in all things."

Other Cook Family Skits

Handcarts and Indians

5-9 Characters: 4 men, narrator and other Danish saints (1-4)

Nancy Matilda Cook was third cousin to Phineas W. Cook, although they likely did not know each other. She married Oren Stoddard and they joined the church. Nancy died, but Oren came to Utah with his son Oscar Orlando Stoddard. Soon Oscar was called on a mission and on the way home helped Danish Saints in the last handcart company, which left the summer of 1860. His experiences with the Danish Saints, who were terribly afraid of Indians, will remind us of real fears and trauma, as well as humor along the pioneer trail.

If Thou Wilt Provide a Way - Johanna Pahlsson Cook

10 Characters: 5 women, 4 men, narrator

Johanna Christina Pahlsson Cook's conversion, travel to Utah, and marriage to Phineas.