Aaron B. Cook


In 1907 after more than thirty-eight years' close identification with farming interests in Allamakee Aaron B. Cook moved into Postville where he has since lived in retirement, having earned rest and leisure by many years of earnest, honorable and well directed work in the past. A spirit of enterprise and determination has actuated him in all that he has done and his work has been of a high order, touching the influencing the trend of agricultural development in this part of the state. He was born in St. Joseph county, Michigan, September 15, 1840, and is a son of William and Ursula (Burr) Cook, natives of New York, born near Utica. The father was one of the pioneers in Michigan, going there when the present state was still a territory, and identifying himself with general farming in St. Joseph county where he remained until 1868 when he went to Mottville, where he turned his attention to the real-estate business in which he continued until his death, September 5, 1878. He was prominent in Public affairs in St. Joseph county and held various positions of trust and honor, serving for several years as county commissioner. He had long survived his wife, who passed away in 1849. In their family were eight children, of whom the subject of this review is the sixth in the order of birth. Aaron B. Cook acquired his early education in the public schools of Mottville and was later a student in White Pigeon Seminary. When he was nineteen years of age he began teaching, spending the winter months at this occupation and attending school during the summers. Afterward, however, he turned his attention to farming, buying land in Elkhart county, Indian, where he remained about two years. He followed this by two years upon his father’s farm in Michigan and then, in 1867, came to Iowa, having since continued a resident of the state. At first he rented land in Ludlow township, Allamakee county, but after two years purchased eighty acres in Post township, whereon he resided continuously for thirty-eight years, becoming, in the interval, one of the most prominent and substantial farmers in this section of the state. When he took up his residence upon this property it was wild and unimproved, but with characteristic energy he set himself to the task of clearing and developing it, steadily carrying forward the work along practical and scientific lines. From time to time he bought more land and added it to his holdings until they today comprise two hundred and eighty acres of fine farming land. In connection with the work of the farm, he not only threshed for himself and neighbors during the season-owning successively three threshing machines-but he also taught in the district schools during the county winter season, becoming, through his able and successful work, one of the leading educators of the county. He was, as may readily be seen, an indefatigable worker, possessed of the ability to divide his energies without impairing their force and he had, moreover, that knowledge of men and the power of judging their capabilities, which enable him always to hire efficient and honest employes, a great deal of his success being due to this fact alone. In addition to the activities above mentioned, he was also for some time president of the publishing company which controlled the District Post, the second paper in Postville, and known as the greenback paper of this district. Mr. Cook is at present manager of the cooperative Postville canning factory and has proven himself a reliable and far-sighted business man as well as a successful educator and a capable farmer. In 1907 he removed from his farm into Postville and is now living practically retired, giving most of his attention to the supervision of his extensive interests.

Mr. Cook married, on the 1st of April, 1860, Miss Caroline Machemer, who was born in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, June 20, 1838. She is a daughter of William and Catherine (Seeman) Machemer, natives of that section of the Keystone state. For many years the father followed farming, but in later life turned his attention to the mercantile business, operating a large store in Constine, Michigan, whether he and his wife went in 1855. There the mother died in 1878 and she was survived by her husband until 1893, his death occurring when he was eighty-seven years of age. Of their family of eleven children, Mrs. Cook is the sixth in the order of birth. She grew to womanhood in Pennsylvania and acquired her education in the public schools of that state. She and her husband became the parents of seven children. Flora, the widow of O. D. Franklin, of Postville, was born May 7, 1861. She is now a teacher in the Postville public school. James Albert was born December, 1862. He is a resident of Keller, Washington, where he is engaged in teaching. He married Myrtle Hoagland, a native of Chickasaw county, Iowa. Carrie L., who was born September 29, 1866, is the widow of Orrin M. Franklin and makes her home in Waterloo, Iowa. Myrtle M., born February 14, 1872, became the wife of Elmer McGhee, of the European Hotel, of Cedar Rapids. Perry E. was born November 25, 1874, and still resides on the home farm. He married Miss Stella Uhl. Charles B. was born October 17, 1877, and died May 21, 1908. His wife was in her maidenhood, Miss Estella Hammel. Gwendolyn, youngest child born to Mr. and Mrs. Cook, was born February 10, 1882. She is the wife of Walter Campbell, secretary of the Cooperative Creamery Company of Postville.

Mr. Cook attends the Methodist Episcopal church, although he is not a member of any religious denomination. He gives his political allegiance to the democratic party and is actively interested in public affairs, being always ready and willing to cooperate in movements for the general welfare. He has held important offices, serving with credit as justice of the peace for sixteen years, as township trustee and as secretary of the school board. In all relations of life he has proved honorable, upright, straightforward and efficient and, in the county, where he has resided for almost forty years, his name is a synonym for progressive citizenship, business ability and high standards of personal and political integrity.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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