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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
John R. Cook
Energy, sound judgment and persistency of effort, properly applied, will always win the goal sought in the sphere of human endeavor, no matter what the environment may be or what obstacles are met with, for they who are endowed with such characteristics make of their adversities stepping stones to higher things. These reflections are suggested by the career of John R. Cook, who has forged his way to the front ranks and stands today among the representative men of Fayette County.
Mr. Cook was born in Rock County, Wisconsin, in 1843, the son of Daniel and Elizabeth (Surran) Cook, both natives of Dayton, Ohio, of which city the paternal grandparents of John R. Cook were pioneers. Daniel Cook was born February 27, 1818, and his death occurred October 10, 1854; his wife was born December 11, 1817 and died February 28, 1895.
The father was a pioneer farmer in Wisconsin. On October 1, 1852, he came to West Union, Iowa, first locating on the Hoyer farm, which he purchased for four hundred dollars and a yoke of oxen, the place consisting of two hundred and forty acres, where he lived a few months. He erected or bought a building where the Stain building now stands. It was a one-story, rude affair. The season prior to that the ground where the court house now stands was in corn. In the above mentioned building he established a grocery business in 1853 and in the following year branched into a general merchandise business, being the first merchant in West Union, and in a short time he worked up an extensive trade, customers coming as far as one hundred miles west to patronize him, for his reputation as an honest and conscientious merchant, who handled a large stock of goods at all seasons, had spread abroad. Mr. Cook, Sr., was a Whig politically and he and his wife were the parents of the following children: Rhoda R., John R. (of this review), David and Peter L. John R. Cook was educated in the common schools of West Union and when a young man devoted his attention to farming, which he followed until August 11, 1862, when he decided to cast his lot with the Union army in the field and do what he could toward saving the national honor, so he became a member of Company F, Thirty-eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and served very gallantly as a private for a period of three years. At the siege of Vicksburg he was transferred to the First Missouri Battery. After the capitulation of that stronghold, he returned to his original company and regiment. He took part in the fight at Beakley, just outside of Mobile, Alabama, also fought at Union City, Tennessee. After the war he returned to West Union and for some time followed farming. He then formed a partnership with John Owens and they dealt in grain and livestock for a period of twenty-six years, during which time they built up a very extensive and lucrative business. Mr. Cook also did a commission business for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company.
In 1902 Mr. Cook became special excursion agent for that road in the state of Iowa and he still holds this position, giving the company entire satisfaction and a high grade service, for he seems to be well adapted for this line of work. Mr. Cook is an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and he has not missed attending a national reunion of this organization for twenty-four years.
Fraternally he is a member of the Knights of Pythias.
Mr. Cook was married to Virginia McClintock a native of Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania, where her family was long prominent. This union resulted in
the birth of one child, Belle, now the wife of E. E. Brewer, living in
Chicago. Personally, Mr. Cook is a good mixer, genial, jolly, always ready
to do some one a kindness, and therefore he is popular with all classes.
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