IAGenWeb Join Our Team

This page was last

updated on 11/21/2011


Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 1208~


Jay and Henry Cook


The subject of this sketch has worthily earned the proud American title of a self-made man in that he began without inheritance of wealth, present or prospective, without the assistance of influential friends, without any of the adventitious aids which tend to smooth the road to eminence; he was obliged to make his own way in the face of many obstacles and the notable success which he has achieved may well serve as an inspiration and incentive to young men who still look to the future for the maturing of their plans and for the reward of their efforts. He inherited from his ancestors a strong and healthy constitution, well balanced mental capacity and a frank and generous disposition, not at all a poor endowment with which to overcome inhospitable environment and make the most of such opportunities as he encountered during the formative period of life, when so much depends upon a proper disposition of time and circumstance. Every step in his progress has been the result of well defined purpose and his continued advancement is directly attributable to an inborn determination which no discouragement could check nor any adverse circumstance hinder. Few young men situated as he was in early life have accomplished so much in the same length of time and, as already indicated, it is with much satisfaction that the following brief outline of his career is herewith presented as an incentive to those whose capital, like his own, consists of a strong mind in a strong body with the ability and disposition to use both to the best advantage.

Henry Cook, father of the subject, was born December 5, 1805, in Hagerstown, Maryland, and traced his descent in a direct line from Francis Cook, of the sturdy Pilgrim Fathers who came to America in the Mayflower and bore an active and influential part in the planting of the first English colony in the New World. The descendants of this pioneer became quite prominent in the affairs of the Plymouth colony and later the name appears frequently in connection with the founding and subsequent growth of various other settlements of Massachusetts, one of the family, Lemuel Cook, great-grandfather of the subject, having served with a distinguished record in the Revolutionary War.

Matilda Cook, wife of Henry and mother of the subject, was a native of Franklin county, Pennsylvania, where she was born February 16, 1815; she too belonged to an old and highly esteemed family whose history in this country is very closely interwoven with the settlement and development of the county in which she first saw the light of day.

Jay Cook was born in Fayette county, Iowa, March 11, 1857, and spent his early life on a farm in Illyria township, where, amid rugged surroundings and active duties, he grew to maturity, attending in the meantime the public schools of Wadena. The training thus received was afterwards supplemented by a course in the Upper Iowa University and later he taught school and studied alternately until the spring of 1880, when he took up telegraphy and within less than a year had made sufficient advancement in the profession as to secure the position of operator and station agent on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, which branch of service he continued for a period of nine years. Having early conceived a decided preference for the legal profession, he severed his connection with the road at the expiration of the time indicated and entered the law department of the State University at Iowa City, graduating with honors in the class of 1891.

Mr. Cook immediately thereafter opened an office at Mason City, where, by diligence, tact and a deep interest in the business entrusted to him, he made substantial progress in his profession and gained worthy prestige among the rising young attorneys of the local bar. After success came there was no relaxation. He continued to be the untiring student, keeping himself in close touch with his profession, and as a result his business has continued to grow until he now ranks high at a bar long noted for the superior order of its legal talent, besides gaining considerable reputation amount the leading lawyers in other than his immediate field of practice. After three years at Mason City, he removed, in the summer of 1894, to Oelwein, where he soon won recognition as a safe and reliable counselor and successful practitioner and where he is still forging steadily to the front, his clientele at this time being quite extensive and numbering many of the wealthy and influential men of the city and the county. Aside from his chosen calling, Mr. Cook takes an active interest in all efforts to promote the social and moral advancement of the community, and as a citizen is typically representative of that large and eminently respectable class to which the public looks for leadership in all that makes for the progress and permanence of the body politic.

During his childhood and youth Mr. Cook was quite popular among the young people of his community, and as he grew to manhood rose to a prominent place in social life, which position he still holds. Those who know him best are lavish in their praise of his many estimable qualities, the confidence reposed in him, professionally and otherwise, giving him a prestige and influence such as a few exert. Fraternally, he is identified with Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Knights of the

Mac Cabees and the Mutual Benefit Association, in all of which orders he has been an active and prominent worker and to his efforts is due much of the success which the lodges enjoy. On June 10, 1885, Mr. Cook was united in marriage with Belle L. Smith, of Janesville, Wisconsin, who has borne him four children, Rollin J., Ethel B., Harold B. and Willard L., all living and affording their parents many fond hopes for the future. Like her husband, Mrs. Cook is well known in the social life of Oelwein and popular in the circles in which she moves.

~transcribed for the Fayette County IAGenWeb Project by Marsha Hymen


back to Fayette Home