BIOGRAPHY - Harry D. Cook

COL. HARRY D. COOK. Among the prominent citizens of Illinois who were actively identified with the war history of the State and soldier interest subsequent to the return of peace, few, if any, are deserving of more favorable mention than the gentleman whose name heads this sketch.

Col. Cook was born in Oneida County, N. Y., in 1818, and was a son of John Cook. His father was a close friend of Garrett Smith, and was descended from an old New York family, the grandfather of the Colonel being a soldier in the Revolutionary War. H. D. Cook received a liberal education, and in his youth learned the carpenter's trade. In 1841, he was married in New York to Miss Joanna Hall, daughter of William and Sally Hall. The lady was born in New York and comes of an old family of that State.

In 1850, Col. Cook emigrated from the East to Illinois and settled in Fulton County, but after a year removed to McLean Country, locating on a farm near Bloomington. He was employed on the Illinois Central Railroad as a bridge-builder, and in 1853 removed to Woodford County. In 1860, he was elected to the Illinois Legislature on the Republican ticket, and in May of the following year entered the volunteer service for the late war as Captain of Company G, Fourth Illinois Cavalry. He participated in the active service of the war, was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and commanded his regiment. When mustered out after three years of service, he held the rank of Colonel.

On his return to the North, Col. Cook was reelected to the Legislature and after the close of the war was commissioned by Gov. Oglesby as military financial agent for Illinois and ordered to Washington to secure the payment of State claims against the general Government, growing out of the late war. So well did he discharge his duty, that he secured the payment of nearly all the claims due the State, manifesting superior business ability and tact. When the railroad and warehouse commission was organized by act of Legislature, Col. Cook was appointed by Gov. Beveridge a member of that board, and at its organization was chosen Chairman. This position he filled with honor to himself and satisfaction to the people until his death, which occurred in November, 1873, at his home in Normal, Ill.

The Colonel was an original Abolitionist and a warm friend of Owen Lovejoy. He was a man of positive views and was a popular speaker, widely and favorably known. The war afforded a field for distinction for men of nerve and strength of character, and Col. Cook's career developed the latent talent in his character for leadership, he becoming prominent and influential in State and National affairs. For several years prior to his death, he had made his home in Normal, Ill., where his wife, who survives her husband, still resides, though well advanced in years.

Seven children were born to Colonel and Mrs. Cook, of whom four are living, three having died in childhood: France L., the eldest, who married Miss Kate Anderson, is the present State Attorney of Ford County, and resides in Paxton. John W. married Lydia Spofford and is President of the State Normal University at Normal; Florence A. is the wife of Judge Alfred Sample, of Paxton, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work; and Ida is the wife of F. W. Gove, a resident of Denver, Col.

Extracted 28 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 260-261.

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