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Biography of John L. Cook

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JOHN L. COOK. In scanning the lives and careers of the citizens of Swan Township, it is pleasant to note the exercise of enterprise in every walk of life, and the achievement of success in every department of business. Thus one is enabled to discern in the career of Mr. Cook, who has for man years been a successful farmer and stockraiser of Taney County. He was born one mile from where he now lives in 1841 and is a son of James and Catherine (Steward) Cook, natives of Simpson County, Kentucky, the former born about 1805 and the latter in 1803.

The elder Cook was reared in his native county, secured a fair education for his day, and was there married to Miss Steward who accompanied him in 1838 to Taney County Missouri, the journey being made by wagon and occupying six weeks. They located in the woods on Swan Creek, when that region was sparsely settled, and improved a good farm on which he lived half a century, the wife dying about 1879 and he in 1888. They were Methodists for many years and no people were better respected in the community. Honorable and upright in every walk of life, the father’s character was above reproach. He was a Democrat in politics and was in sympathy with the South during the war, but did not take an active part. He was one of the first settlers of Taney County and assisted materially in its improvement and development. His father, James Cook, was a North Carolinian, but was an early settler of Kentucky, where he remained until 1838 and then came to Taney County; here he improved a good farm on Swan Creek, now a part of Christian County. There he lived until the Rebellion when he removed to near Ozark, where he died about 1864, when nearly one-hundred years old. He was a lifelong farmer. He was the father of nine children, five sons and four daughters, only one of whom is now living, Polly Cunningham, of Christian County. The maternal grandfather, Daniel Steward, and his wife, Mary Steward, were natives of Scotland but early settlers of Kentucky, where Mr. Steward died when about sixty years of age. His widow then moved to Taney County, Missouri, with her daughter, Mrs. Cook, and there died a number of years before the war. Mr. and Mrs. Cook became the parents of eight children, three sons and five daughters, as follows: William A., died when sixteen years of age; Mary, wife of Geo. W. Jackson, died about 1868; James D., a farmer of Taney County; Elvira, wife of William B. Sims of Taney County; Missouri C., widow of William D. Casey; John L., subject; Angeline, wife of William D. Hodges of Taney County, and Elizabeth, wife of John L. Thomas of Taney County.

Amid the rude surroundings of pioneer life our subject passed his youthful days, and as might be supposed his educational advantages were rather limited. In the year 1863 he was wedded to Miss Mary J. Clemens a native of the Buckeye State and the daughter of William and Margaret Clemens, who were born in Pennsylvania. About 1859 her parents left Ohio for Taney County, Missouri, and there Mr. Clemens died soon after. Our subject’s marriage resulted in the birth of seven sons: Calvin L., Leander H., William L., John D., Elverton C., Thomas B., and D. J., who is known as “Doc.” being the seventh son. In the year 1864 Mr. Cook joined Company F, Seventy-second Missouri Infantry, under Col. John S. Phelps, and was stationed at Springfield most of the time or until a short time before the close of the war. Afterward he resumed farming, residing for four years in Greene County, and then came to his present home on Swan Creek, eight miles above Forsyth, where he has 172 acres with about 75 acres under cultivation. In 1888 he was elected sheriff of Taney County and so well and satisfactorily did he fill that position that he was reelected in 1890. He has ever been a Democrat in his political views and is the second Democrat who has held that office in Taney County since the war. Although not a politician he is a liberal supporter of his party.


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