Peter Cook of San Rafael, CA, has been identified as the grand-nephew of the little girl formerly known only by her nickname “Miranda Eve.” It was through DNA hair strand analysis that determined she was Edith Howard Cook who was born November 28, 1873 and died October 13, 1876. She was found still clutching a red rose when her tiny casket was unearthed May 2016 during a remodeling project in the backyard of Ericka and John Karner in San Francisco.

The Cook family tree

Peter, age 82, said that he knew there was “something special” about his family, which he said includes pioneers, sea captains, and diplomats.

What he didn’t know was that little Edith existed or that she died as a toddler at two-years-old from an illness that caused her to become malnourished.

The little girl’s parents were Horatio Nelson Cook and Edith Scooffy Cook, born 1851 into one of California’s pioneer families. He was 27 and she was 19 when they married in 1870. The couple was regularly found in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper’s society pages.

According to the U.S. Census, old newspaper clippings, and city directories, the Cooks were illustrious during the days when the affluent had horses and buggies. Horatio was even appointed San Francisco’s Greek consul.

Siblings made name for themselves

Little Edith was the couple’s second child.

Her older brother Milton, born 1871, was Peter’s grandfather. Two years following little Edith’s death, the Cooks had two more children: Ethel, born 1878, and Clifford, born 1878. A Russian nobleman called Ethel the “most beautiful woman” in America. Meanwhile, Clifford bolstered his name and reputation by sand-blasting dirt off famous Parisian buildings, such as the City Hall.

After Clifford returned to San Francisco from Paris, he joined their older brother Milton in running their father’s tannery and leather manufacturing business until 1927, which is when Clifford died of pneumonia.

Cook family cannibalism

Peter is confident that little Edith’s grandfather was in the Donner Party and was not the first in the family tree to be involved in cannibalism.

Owen Chase, he said, was an ancestor on his mother’s side. Chase was the first mate on the whaler Essex, which a sperm whale caused to sink in the Pacific in 1820. Chase was among eight survivors (out of 21) aboard lifeboats. They survived, according to Peter, by eating the others. The novel “Moby Dick” was inspired by the story.

Recognizing relative’s real identity

“Incredible” is how Peter describes finding his great-aunt 140 years after her death. Within his photo album is a picture of 19th-century glamor showing little Edith’s mother wearing white gloves and a lace gown.

When a construction crew discovered the sealed casket of little Edith, they found her, at long last, with long blonde hair and wearing a white, lace dress. Peter plans to attend his great-aunt’s memorial service, in recognition of her true identity, June 10, 2017, at Greenlawn Memorial Park, Colma, CA.