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Benton County, IAGenWeb Project
The IAGenWeb Project

History of Benton County, Iowa
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1910; Luther B. Hill, Ed.

Pages 512-513

DR. STEPHEN M. COOK. — The practice of more than forty years enjoyed by Dr. Stephen M. Cook at Belle Plaine, Benton county, has firmly fixed him in the class of honored and beloved veterans of the western profession. He still has a lively recollection of the times when it was nothing unusual to be aroused in the middle of the night by a breathless messenger on horseback who required his services for a sick one fifteen or twenty miles away. In those days storms of rain and sleet, blizzards of snow, roads stifled in dust or hip deep with mud — all such drawbacks were ignored, or patiently accepted as necessary phases of a country practice in a new country. Dr. Cook has lived through it all — "enjoyed" it, as a whole —a nd has long been gathering his harvest of comforts, wide respect and deep affection from the host he has soothed or succored.

The Doctor is a native of Ohio, born in Mansfield, June 14, 1835, a son of Jesse and Eleanor (Cochran) Cook, both also natives of that state. He is the oldest of three sons, Luther being now a resident of Wichita, Kansas, and James of Red Oak, Iowa. The father who for some years was a cabinet maker at Mansfield, in 1845 loaded his family and household goods into a wagon and drove through to Mount Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa. There the family resided for a time, and later he purchased the farm in Henry county on which he died. On April 19, 1855, Dr. Cook married Miss Margaret J. Mitts, who became the mother of twelve children, the following six of whom are living: Eleanor N., wife of H. B. Gaskell, manager of the "Allison Hotel," Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Marquis, a resident of Alsaka; Margaret J., who married William Pedball, of Belle Plaine; Florence, wife of Frank Retzer, of St. Joe, Missouri; Luther, who is at home; and Jessie, now Mrs. Ernest B. Lathan, of Brooklyn, New York.

The Doctor commenced his primary education in his native town of Mansfield and completed it in Henry and Marshall counties, Iowa. He was then apprenticed to the plasterers' and bricklayers' trade, which he followed for three years, when he was obliged to abandon the work on account of a severe attack of rheumatism. It was at this period of his life that he commenced the study of medicine. In 1863 the young man of twenty-six enlisted in the Twenty-eighth Iowa Infantry, was detailed as a hospital steward, and after six months of service in that capacity was discharged on account of ill health. He then took two courses of medical lectures at the Keokuk (Iowa) Hospital, and celebrated July 4, 1864, by visiting Belle Plaine for the first time. At that time the North-Western Railway was building through the place, which contained only a couple of residences and presented rather a forlorn outlook for a young physician about to commence practice. Dr. Cook soon passed on to Costa, six miles east, where he resided until 1872, when he located in Belle Plaine which has since been his home. In 1877 he returned to Keokuk and completed the course at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which earned him his diploma. He then returned to Belle Plaine, which had been his residence since 1872. He has become widely known as a conscientious and skillful practitioner, and has kept abreast of the advancing times by careful reading and postgraduate work. He has served as health officer of Belle Plaine for fourteen years; has long been a member of Hope Lodge, A. F. and A. M., and his popularity has gone hand in hand with the universal respect of the community.

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