Category: Cook

She Was Hopeful Till the End, Part 2

To Continue:

After the divorce, life went on for both Harry H. Cook, and Martha Paine Cook. Martha immersed herself in doing good works in the Oshkosh community while living with her aging parents, and Harry continued, as he had been, traveling from New Jersey to Florida, hoping for a cure.

The official date of the 1930 Federal Census was April 1, 1930. On this date, Martha was enumerated as residing with her father in Oshkosh, her mother having passed away on December 23, 1929. She is stated as being 35 years of age, divorced, with no occupation. Living with them in the family home at 870 Algoma Blvd, is a cook, 52 year old Mary Warnke, and a maid, 20 year old Hildegard Frailing. [1]

Later that year, on December 3, 1930, Martha married Drew O. Johnston, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a mechanical engineer by trade. [2]  I am assuming that they met sometime in 1927, or shortly thereafter. Drew had for decades split his time between Pittsburgh, and wintering in Palm Beach, Florida, where the Phil H. Sawyer family also spent their winters. The Philetus (Phil) Horace Sawyer family are part of the founding families of Oshkosh, and in the late 20s a prominent family in the Oshkosh community. It is certain that the Paine and Sawyer families would have known each other, at the very least on a social level. But how would Martha have met Drew Johnston? On November 19, 1927, Drew’s daughter Elizabeth Meyers Johnston, married Phil H. Sawyer, Jr., in a small private ceremony in Oshkosh, [3]  and it is in Oshkosh that this young couple made their home, and lived out their lives. 

The Johnston marriage appears to have been a happy marriage, filled with friends and family; travel between Pittsburgh and Palm Beach, along with frequent travels abroad. Drew’s daughter, Betty and her family, and his son Drew M. Johnston and his family, were frequent visitors to Palm Beach. It must have been with great excitement and anticipation that Drew and Martha learned that they were expecting in 1935. Their daughter, who they named Ardra Paine Johnston, was born August 1, 1935 in Pittsburgh. Sadly, she would pass away in Rochester, Olmstead Co., Minnesota on January 18, 1936. [4]  For me, Rochester means just one thing, the Mayo Clinic. I have ordered her death record, so time will tell, but it must have been devastating to lose their five month old daughter. Drew and Martha would celebrate 28 years of marriage before Drew passed away in Palm Beach, at the age of 81, December 12, 1958. [5]  He was buried in the family plot in Highwood Cemetery in Pittsburgh. [6]

The enumerator of the Atlantic City 1930 Federal Census, visited Harry on April 2, 1930. He was living in the Ambassador Bungalow in Atlantic City, Atlantic Co., New Jersey, listed as being 49 years of age, Divorced, and Retired. He was paying a monthly rent of $333.00, and enumerated with him was 38 year old, Jessie Carter Duncan, a widow, who was living with him in the role of Servant/Nurse, her occupation was enumerated as a Nurse. [7

News reached Edwin Yule in Alexandria, Indiana, on January 23, 1931, that Harry’s health “had taken a turn for the worse.” Edwin and his wife immediately left for New Jersey, [8] where Harry passed away two days later on January 25th. Unfortunately, Harry’s sister Maud, and her husband, Charles, were in Paris, so his funeral arrangements were delayed, but plans were made to bring his body immediately to Neenah by train, with a stop in Chicago to change trains for the trip north. Executives of the Alexandria Paper Company, and friends of the family met the train in Chicago, and traveled to Neenah together. [9] At some point during the trip, the decision to go ahead with the funeral and burial were made, and the funeral cortege went immediately from the train station that Wednesday afternoon, January 28th, to Oak Hill Cemetery where a brief funeral service was conducted at 2:15 p.m. at the cemetery chapel, by Rev. D. C. Jones the pastor of the Presbyterian church. [10] Harry is buried in the Cook Plot, just to the front of the Cook monument, and the only other full sized grave next to his parents.

Shortly after Harry’s death, on February 3, 1931, Edwin Yule was appointed administrator of the estate. [11] Details of his will were published in the newspaper August 11, 1931, when it was admitted for probate so as to arrange payment of a $50,000 insurance policy to the estate, the insurance was to be inherited by his sister, Maud. The article states that the original will bequeathed one-third of his property to his wife, Martha; one third to his sister, Maud, and one-third to be held in trust for his son, Hosford. “On May 14, 1927, following the death of his child and the filing of a suit for divorce by his wife, the late manufacturer wrote a codicil to the will bequeathing $15,000 to Jessie C. Duncan in addition to all pay due her for services, and the residue to go to his sister. [12] On this same date Edwin W. Yule and Maud Cook Lancaster, qualified as executors of his estate, and as stated above, filed the will for probate. [13]

Maud received as part of the balance of the estate all property, including stocks and real estate. The estate holdings were published in The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune on February 25, 1933, and were said to include: “one-half interest in home property in Neenah, Wis., one-half interest in seven lots in Orono, [Hennepin Co.] Minn.; certain interests in lumber lands in Canada; 950 shares of common stock in the Alexandria Paper Company; 423 shares in the Phillips Company, of Chicago; 17 shares Anderson Banking Company stock; 13 shares in Manufacturers National Bank, Neenah, Wis., and 30 shares in the Great Northern Life Insurance Company.” [14] On March 17, 1933, the estate was finally settled, and closed. [15] What I find interesting about the above list, is that it does not include any of the physical property that was associated with the Alexandria Paper Company, just common stock shares. But that is a topic for another blog post.

After Drew’s passing, Martha continued to winter in the home that they had shared in Palm Beach. She kept her ties to Oshkosh, spending her summers residing with her niece, and serving as an “Art Center trustee” of what is now known as the Paine Art Center and Gardens, a house museum built and founded by her Uncle Nathan Paine, and his wife, Jessie Kimberly Paine. [16] Martha passed away January 16, 1993, in Palm Beach, Florida. She was 97 years old. She was “laid to rest in the Paine Family Mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery, Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Friday, January 22, 1993.” [17]

I have to admit that I am left deeply saddened by this story. The details are still not fully developed, as court records would need to be reviewed, land deeds looked at, and the total melded together to get a better picture. Over the next few blog posts I will attempt to tell the story of the company that Samuel Andrew Cook built with such pride, hope, and vision. 


  1. 1930 U.S. census, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Oshkosh City, Twelfth Ward, enumeration district (ED) 70-38, sheet 28, p. 58A, dwelling 612, family 623, Edward W. Paine household; digital images, ( : accessed 25 Mar 2003); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 2620.
  2. Johnston-Cook Wedding is Solemnized,” (Oshkosh) The Daily Northwestern, 3 Dec 1930, p. 8, col. 5. Cit. Date: 11 Aug 2004.
  3. “Sawyer-Johnston Wedding Is One of Quiet Charm,” The Daily Northwestern, 21 Nov 1927, p. 16, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  4. “Baby Passes Away,” The Oshkosh Northwestern, 20 Jan 1936, p. 4, col 2; digital images, ( : accessed 29 Jun 2016).
  5. Pittsburgh Rites Are Scheduled For Mr. Johnston,” The Palm Beach Post-Times, 14 Dec 1958, p. 10, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  6. “Deaths and Funerals. Drew Johnston,” The Palm Beach News, 17 Dec 1938, p. 24, col. 3; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  7. 1930 U. S. census, Atlantic County, New Jersey, population schedule, Atlantic City, 4th Ward, enumeration district (ED) 1-31, sheet 1, p. 81B, dwelling 29, family 23, Henry H. Cook household; digital images, ( : accessed 25 Mar 2003); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626.
  8. Harry Cook Critically Ill at Atlantic City,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 23 Jan 1931, front page, col. 3; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2016).
  9. “Harry H. Cook Died Suddenly Atlantic City,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 26 Jan 1931, front page, col. 7; digital images, ( : accessed 24 May 2016).
  10. “Harry H. Cook, Former Neenah Resident, Dies,” (Oshkosh) Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, 27 an 1931, p. 9, col. 3. Cit. Date: 26 Mar 2003.
  11. “Legal. Notice of Appointment,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 4 Feb 1931, front page, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2016).
  12. Cook’s Sister Gets Large Part of His Estate,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 11 Aug 1931, front page, col. 5; digital images, ( : accessed 19 May 2016).
  13. “LEGAL. Notice of Appointment,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 25 Aug 1931, p. 2, col. 4; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2016).
  14. “Final Report Filed In Harry Cook Estate,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 25 Feb 1933, p. 3, col. 5; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2016).
  15. “LEGAL,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 13 Mar 1933, p. 4, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 4 Jun 2016).
  16. “Paine Center Founder Donates Silver Piece,” The Appleton Post-Crescent, 27 Sep 1964, p. A12. Cit. Date: 11 Aug 2004.
  17. Funeral Notices. Martha Paine Johnston,” The Palm Beach Post, 20 Jan 1993, p. 3B, col. 2; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).

She Was Hopeful Till the End, Part 1

To continue the sad story of Harry and Martha Paine Cook, we have to focus, and to place the blame on Harry coming down with “sleeping sickness” while on a business trip to New York City.

When Harry Cook was first diagnosed with “sleeping sickness” in late January 1920, I am sure that there was a sense of panic in the Cook household. For those first days he was confined to a hospital in New York, slowly improving. By the end of February he had improved enough that he could be moved to Florida, where they hoped that the warm weather and sunshine would make all the difference.

They remained in Florida all of the winter, sending home small notices stating that he was “improving.” But the illness was still taking its toll, and he was not really making any steady improvement, just small glimmers, and hope. On April 20, 1920, The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune reported that Harry had “recovered sufficiently to be able to leave Miami” and that the couple were “now northbound and it is expected that they will arrive in Alexandria about June 1.” [1] But I am not certain that they did return. My “chair research” into the newspaper, does not share the joyous news of their return, and the month of June is well covered.

Martha Paine Cook sent the next report, which was received August 24, 1920, from her parents home in Oshkosh, Winnebago, Wisconsin. She reported that Harry was presently in the mountains of Vermont, where he was “getting along nicely.” [2] In September, Harry moved to New Jersey, where his cousin Edwin W. Yule paid him a visit in September. Edwin reported that “Mr. Cook is very thin from his long illness, but that he is now on the road to recovery although his improvement is going very slowly. Mr. Cook was very glad to see Mr. Yule and expressed himself as very eager to come home.” [3] As winter approached he made his way to Florida to spend the winter with his sister, Maud, and her husband Charles F. Lancaster. Thus starting a pattern that would go on for the next eleven years, wintering in Florida, and spending the summer living at a resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

We may never know exactly what happened, and most certainly not know the full details from my “chair research,” but I have done my best to piece together the story.

“Sleeping sickness” can not only affect the physical body, but can have adverse effect on a patient’s mental health. The months in Florida must have been trying for Martha as she worked to keep her husband’s spirits high, and help him recover physically. She also was the mother of a 1 1/2 year old, as Hosford would celebrate his second birthday on July 13th. I am sure that there was help in the home; nurses, housekeepers, possibly even a nanny for Hosford, but I would like to think that Martha was personally engaged and involved in the care of both of her “men.” In May, instead of being “northbound” to Alexandria, Martha took little Hosford, and traveled to Oshkosh, while Harry began to wander the country, looking for that elusive place that would cure him, moving from Vermont to New Jersey, to Florida.

As the months passed, Harry became more and more dependent on his sister, Maud, her husband, Charles F. Lancaster and his cousin, Edwin W. Yule for support and guidance in running the Alexandria Paper Co., of which he was president. In October 1922, Harry was well enough to return to Alexandria, accompanied by Edwin Yule, [4]  A short month later, in November, Martha filed a petition in the Madison County Circuit Court for a guardian to be appointed for her husband. She stated that “certain persons ha[d] exerted influence on her husband and have caused him to become indifferent toward her.” She went on to state that “she has been unable to communicate with him,” and wished to know why “certain persons” have worked to turn Harry against her. [5] An article published in The Indianapolis Star, states the same situation a bit more bluntly: “The application charges that Cook is under the control of certain parties, whose names are not revealed, and that being of alleged unsound mind he is influenced by them so that he refuses to have anything to do with his wife.” The article goes on to say that she had “spent several months trying to nurse her husband, and that when her health broke down she went to the home of her parents in Oshkosh, Wis. It is alleged that her husband developed a violent aversion to her in the meantime, and that she has repeatedly been denied the privilege of seeing him.”  In a later court document, Martha claimed that he “deserted them” on July 12, 1920, just days before their son’s second birthday. [6]

It would be two years before she was finally able to have a trust company named as guardian, as Harry kept sending it back to the court on appeal. It was announced in The [Oshkosh] Daily Northwestern on March 24, 1924, that she had prevailed, and secured their wealth of nearly a million dollars in assets, mostly stock in the Alexandria Paper Company. Harry had been traveling most of the year accompanied by nurses and attendants. At the time of the final court decision, he was in Florida for the winter. [7

It appears as though Martha was correct in her concerns, and her wish to have a guardian named for Harry, as less than a year later, on January 29, 1925, he was back in court, his guardian, the Citizen’s State Bank of Newcastle, filing in Federal Court, a “suit charging fraud and duress in connection with the transfer of $250,000, in the Alexandria Papar [sic] Company” against “Mrs. Maud Lancaster, her husband Charles P. [sic] Lancaster both of New York, and the Alexandria Paper Company.” “The complaint alleged that the defendants…had fraudulently induced Cook to transfer to them the 500 shares of stock. The complaint also alleges that the defendants and expended between $75,000 and $100,000 of Cook’s money each year since his illness in chartering houseboats, employing and discharging physicians, hiring servants, nurses, leasing houses and apartments and for other  expenses.” They were also “voting the shares, and receiving large amounts of money in dividends.” The article goes on to put it in perspective: “Cook is said to have received from his father 1, 750 shares of stock in the Alexandria Paper Company, a controlling interest. Cook’s sister is said to have become the owner of 950 shares of stock in the company at the death of her father” in April 1918. It goes on to state that the defendants “took charge of Cook during his illness and concealed his whereabouts from his wife and child.” [8]

Sadly, my “chair research” has not revealed any indication of how this suit was settled. More work to be done here!

In February 1927, the couple buried their son, and only child, Henry Hosford Cook. His story was told in the blog post titled: A Child Lost. I believe it is at this point that Martha gives up. She must realize that her husband is not going to get well enough to return home, and they will never again have a normal, loving married life. On April 4, 1927, she filed for divorce on the grounds of abandonment. She was asking for alimony. [9] Coming to an agreement would not be an easy task, nor a quick one. In December their attorneys met in superior court in Indianapolis, hopeful that an agreement could finally be reached, they “conferred” till 3:00 on that Friday afternoon of December 16, 1927. At that time, agreement was reached on a proposal which was to be sent to Harry in Atlantic City, for his “consideration” and “specifies that a divorce shall be granted and deals with property rights and the question of alimony.” The judge “continued the case until February 20, 1928, to give attorneys time to consult Cook. Witnesses subpoenaed for the trial and who were held in superior court all day, were instructed to return on that date.” [10

On February 17, 1928, the long wait was over. Harry had agreed to terms for the divorce, which were that Martha would be granted her request for a divorce, and receive $100,000 in alimony, a “$25,000 insurance policy on the life of Mr. Cook, subject to the unpaid premium.” And “a portion of the furnishings of the Cook home just south of the city.”  “A total of 18 attorneys were connected with the case, ten representing Mrs. Cook and eight representing the defense. The alimony award was the largest award in the Madison county courts.” [11] The terms were agreed to out of court, Martha was in the courtroom, but Harry did not return to Indiana for the hearing. [12]

To be continued…


  1. “Harry Cook Is Better,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 24 Apr 1920, front page, col 1; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2016).
  2. “Harry Cook In Vermont,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 24 Aug 1920, front page, col 3; digital image ( : accessed 27 May 2016).
  3. “Sees Harry Cook,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 14 Sep 1920, front page, col 4; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2016).
  4. “Harry Cook Arrives In City This Morning,” The Alexandria Times=Tribune, 12 Oct 1922, front page, col 2; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2016).
  5. “Seeks Appointment of Guardian for Husband,” The Indianapolis News, 13 Nov 1922, p. 17, col 1; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2016).
  6. “Mrs. Cook Asks Court For Divorce Decree,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 5 Apr 1927, front page, col 3; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  7. “Indiana Supreme Court Sustains Ruling In The Cook Guardianship Case,” The Daily Northwestern, 24 Mar 1924, front page, col 3; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE ( : 10 May 2016).
  8. “Sick Man Made Victim of Fraud,” The Elwood Cal Leader, 31 Jan 1925, p 8, col 5; digital images, ( : accessed 23 May 2016).
  9. Mrs. Cook Asks Court For Divorce Decree,” The Alexandria Times=Tribune, 5 Apr 1927, front page, col 3; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  10. “Cook Divorce Case May End By Agreement,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 17 Dec 1927, front page, col 6; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2016).
  11. “Life Insurance Policy $25,000 to Mrs. Cook,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 21 Feb 1928, front page, col 2; digital images, ( : accessed 24 May 2016).
  12. “Mrs. Cook Divorced; Gets $100,000 Alimony,” The Alexandria Daily Times=Tribune, 20 Feb 1928, p. 4, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 27 May 2016).

A Child Lost

Samuel A. Cook, who up to this point we have been calling S. A., as that is how he most often appears in print, plus over the armory, and most places we look, it is S. A. But I would have to bet that his wife, his siblings, his mother and father, didn’t call him that, they called him Samuel. Or Sam. As I continue to study him, and get to know him, I think I will call him Samuel.

Samuel’s son Harry (Henry Harold), married Martha Wheeler Paine, in a small private ceremony which took place in her family home in Oshkosh, Winnebago Co., Wisconsin, on June 30, 1917. Martha is the daughter of Edward Wheeler Paine, and Elizabeth Bonney Hosford Paine. The Paines were a prominent lumber family in Oshkosh, Edward, along with his brother, Nathan, owned and operated the Paine Lumber Company. (It is Nathan Paine and his wife, Jessie Kimberly, who built, and then donated, what we now know as the Paine Art Center and Gardens). 

After an extended honeymoon, the couple settled in Alexandria, Madison Co., Indiana, where Harry had been living and working for the past 16 years or so. He was vice president, and general manager of his father’s paper mill, the Alexandria Paper Co. Life was good for the newlyweds, and soon they were excited to let their family know that they would be expecting a baby in July 1918. Sadly, Samuel would not live to meet his grandchild, as he suffered a “stroke of paralysis” in December 1917, and never fully recovered. He passed away at his home in Neenah, Winnebago Co., Wisconsin, on April 4, 1918. 

It was with joyous hearts that Harry and Martha welcomed their son, Henry Hosford Cook, into the world at 12:50 a.m. the morning of July 13, 1918. Martha had made the decision to give birth in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois, checking into Presbyterian Hospital. [1] Later that day, Harry traveled back to Alexandria to attend to some pressing business matters, and to take a moment to share the joy with the paper mill employees. He and Martha had printed a small card announcing the birth of their son, and to which they had attached a $10 bill. The card reads: 


An employee at the time, Robert W. Gaither, when interviewed in 1970, had this to say about that day: “‘I remember so well,’ he said, ‘when Harry sat on the steps of the old office building and gave everyone who came through a ten-dollar bill.'” [2] In 1918 there were approximately 160 employees in the company, so Harry handed out $1600.00, or $25,352.16 in 2016 money! Each employee receiving approximately $158.45. [3

Over the next few years, Harry spent many days and weeks traveling on business for the mill. During his extended time away, Martha would pack up baby Hosford, and head to Oshkosh to spend time with her parents, and when Harry was scheduled to return, the couple would meet up in Chicago, and travel back to Alexandria together. 

Tragically, in late January 1920, while visiting New York on business, Harry came down with flu-like symptoms, and then was hospitalized. Doctors later diagnosed his condition as “sleeping sickness,” a form of lethargic encephalitis. An article published in The Cambridge Sentinel states that the symptoms begin with fever, which can last two to five days, followed by a period of subnormal temperature, sore throat and chest cold. “In marked cases the lethargy was accompanied by heaviness of the eyelids, pain in the eyes and blurred vision. Headache was a common symptom, and rigidness was characteristic of the early symptoms.” This is just the first stage. What follows is the patient is often “unable to make any voluntary movement on account of great muscular weakness; the face is quite expressionless and mask like, and there may be double facial paralysis. The patient is in a condition of stupor, although true sleep is often not obtained.” There was no defined treatment, and the patient was “given to understand that his convalescence will last at least six months after the beginning of the illness.” [4]  Cases of sleeping sickness were found in both New York, and Chicago in 1919, so it is only speculation where he could contracted this contagious disease. 

When Harry was well enough to leave the hospital, and New York City, the family headed together to Florida to give him time to rest and to recover. Unfortunately, as is often the case, he never was able to fully recover, and the effect the disease had on him both physically, but most importantly, mentally, caused him to never be the same person again, and thus he is said to have abandoned his family on July 22, 1920. [5]  This story deserves its own blog post, so let us move forward a few years in time. 


Hoping that her husband would recover, but knowing at this point they could not live together and that she needed to take care of her small son, Martha took Hosford, and moved permanently to Oshkosh to live with her parents. The years passed, and a routine was set between mother and son, and part of the routine was to spend a portion of the winter in Florida. In February 1927, they were enjoying the warm weather of Naples, Florida, with friends and relatives. It was a Wednesday, spent at the beach off the Gulf of Mexico, and Hosford was wading and swimming with friends, when he went out a bit too far, and was pulled into the undertow. Despite all efforts to save him, he drowned. I can only imagine the grief in which Martha sent off the telegram to her parents. And the unbelief that Edward and Elizabeth felt upon opening the door to receive the telegram telling them of their grandsons death, and when to expect the train carrying their grandson’s body, accompanied by their daughter. [6

I have not been able to find a newspaper article that states the details for his funeral. It could have been large and public, or small and private. We may never know, but if I were to bet, I would bet it was small and private. He was buried in the family plot in Riverside Cemetery, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 

As winter faded into spring, then summer, and children started to flock to the neighboring beaches to play and to swim. Hosford’s grandfather, Edward W. Paine, still wracked with grief, donated “three sets of life-saving apparatus” to the city of Oshkosh, and dedicated to his grandson. The three sets were installed at three city beaches, south side beach, Menominee Park, and Mary Jewel Park. “Each piece of apparatus consists of a large preserver to which is attached an iron ring to fasten around the arm. To the preserver is attached 400 feet of line, which winds on a large cylinder. In [case] of danger anyone may seize the preserver and carry or throw it out in the water. The stand is erected with a reel and handle, so that the preserver may be pulled in.” Edward Paine also sent a set to Sarasota, Fla. “On each of the racks is placed a bronze plate with the inscription, ‘In Memory of Henry Hosford Cook, Died Feb. 16, 1927.'” [7 ]

Hosford lived just a short 8 1/2 years, and this small, much loved little boy started his life with a gift to honor his birth, and he ended his life with a gift to remember his having lived. Both gifts were given in the hope that the gift would enrich the lives of the receiver. Make the world a better place. 

Rest in peace, Henry Hosford Cook.


  1. FamilySearch, “Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922,” database and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 Jul 2012); Henry Hosford Cook; Reference ID: 25709, GS Film Number: 1308838, Digital Folder Number: 004403113, Image Number: 01020.
  2. Sue Martson, “Old Paper Mill Will Again Have A Heart Beat,” The Alexandria Times-Tribune, 15 Apr 1970, Wednesday, p. 8; digital images, ( : accessed 19 May 2016).
  3. : accessed 8 Jun 2016.
  4. “Call New Malady Epidemic Stupor,” The Cambridge  Sentinel, 3 May 1919, p. 3, col. 1-3 : digital image, Cambridge Public Library ( : accessed 8 Jun 2016).
  5. “Mrs. cook Asks Court For Divorce Decree,” The Times=Business, 5 Apr 1927, front page, col. 3; digital images, ( : accessed 10 Jun 2016).
  6. “Boy Meets Death By Drowning At Florida Resort,” (Oshkosh) Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, 17 Feb 1927, p. 4, col. 3. Cit. Date: 26 Mar 2003.
  7. “Makes Gift to City,” (Oshkosh) The Daily Northwestern, 2 Jul 1927, p. 2, col. 7. Cit. Date: 22 Jul 2003.

A Forgotten Family


Last month I had the pleasure to connect with a Cook cousin. She had recently returned from a road trip that included a stop in Alexandria, Madison Co., Indiana, and a search for information about Samuel A. Cook, and the Alexandria Paper Company. She discovered that the information they had on file about the company, had been submitted by my mother. Not encouraging. As Alexandria is approximately a seven hour drive from my home, I set out to see what I could learn in my favorite way, in my chair. As this search will be chair driven, and not visit driven information, it is not a complete history, but an overview, and an enticement for more information. And another rabbit hole. The Cook family may not be top of mind for the city of Alexandria today in 2016, but in those early decades of the 20th Century they played a vital role in the development of this community, and had a lasting impact on their lives.

I have decided that I would like to tell this story in a series of vignettes, and as we are now just nine days from celebrating Flag Day here in the United States, I would like to share this story.

The United States officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917, and communities across the country held flag raising ceremonies to “show their patriotism and allegiance to the stars and stripes.” [1] A flag raising was held at the Children’s Home in Alexandria on April 16, 1917, and is documented here, along with an image of the event. 

S. A. Cook, 1915 ca. Sternitzky Family Archives

Samuel A. Cook, owner and president of the Alexandria Paper Company, Civil War veteran, 1915 State Commander of the G. A. R. for Wisconsin, ex-congressman; was born in 1849 in Ontario, Canada, and became a citizen of his chosen country January 10, 1891. His love of county was great, and in the wake of the unrest surrounding the United States entry into World War I, he decided to hold a Flag Raising ceremony at the factory. The date was set for April 17th at 3:00 p.m. The program was carefully planned, and the Alexandria Business Men’s Association requested that all downtown businesses close from 2:30 till 4:00 p.m., so that as many as possible would be able to attend the ceremony. The program prepared for the event would include and address by S. A. Cook. [2]  

The next day dawned “a faultless Indiana spring day, with a sun that shed his refulgent beams unstintingly and graciously over the land and a balmy breeze blowing.” Over 3000 people gathered to join in a “jubilee of patriotism” for “one country, one government, one president, ONE FLAG.” All of Alexandria’s schools had been dismissed for the afternoon so that the students could attend, and the mood was patriotic and cheerful, a local band set the tone as the crowds gathered. 

S. A. Cook, 49th Annual G. A. R. Encampment, Wausau, Marathon Co., Wisconsin. June 14-16, 1915. Sternitzky Family Archives

To start the ceremony, an eloquent invocation was given by Rev. Dunn, a man whose “stentorian voice penetrated the most remote edges of the assemblage so that all could hear.” The invocation was followed by the crowd joining in singing “America” which “helped stir the emotions” and set the stage for S. A., who is reported to have been “in an amiable frame of mind,” entering “heartily into the spirit of the occasion.” His voice was “strong enough to be heard by all and he received the closest attention, even the young boys and girls…were still while the speaker appealed to them in the name of our great country to remember its traditions.” 

“Mr. Cook’s address was not a set speech, but every word of it was the silver and gold of pure patriotism.” S. A. was a great orator, a great lover of words, and who had an eloquent command of the english language. His goal this day was to inspire the community to stand united with the United States, reminding them that “we cannot be citizens of two countries at one and the same time. We cannot serve two national masters. You must say, ‘this is my country, my flag, and none other will I recognize.’ Divided allegiance would bring ruin to the strongest government on earth and no country could long exist as an independent nation whose people were not united under one flag.”

At the conclusion of his address, which included “humorous allusions,” and “witty remarks,” the crowd accompanied by the band, joined in singing the “Star Spangled Banner.” As the crowd sang, the flag was “hoisted” by the chief engineer of the plant, and as it was raised, a thirteen gun salute was fired. The closing benediction was delivered by Rev. Roadarmel, in a “clear resonant voice.” The mayor then led the crowd in three cheers for the flag now waving proudly over the paper mill, and the ceremony was over. [3]  

To commemorate the event, a “moving picture ‘shootist’ snapped every detail of the patriotic meeting. Mr. Cook is shown in the picture delivering a patriotic address at the mill.” The movie was then shared with the people of Alexandria at the New Gossard theatre, on April 24, 1917. [4] Oh to find this piece of film. That would be amazing.

The April 18, 1917 Times-Tribune article begins with what they state is the “climax and peroration: of S. A.’s address, a tribute to our flag, and it is with this tribute, I will end my post.

“Old Glory is the emblem of peace and purity, protecting all our citizens in their religious beliefs, political affiliations and legitimate industries. Men and women, guard it in the fulness of meaning. It is not a painted rug, it is the constitution, it is the government. Forget not what it means and be true to our country’s Flag. Let us twine each thread of our country about our heart strings and catch the spirit that breathes upon us from the battlements of our fathers. Let us resolve, come weal or woe, that we will in life, now and forever, stand by the Stars and Stripes. They have been unfurled from the snows of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, in the halls of Congress and in the solitude of every sea as the symbol of resistless power. It has led the wave to victory and glory. It has floated over our cradles. Let it be our prayer and our struggle that it may float over our graves. May God bless you all and your every earnest effort.”


  1. “Old Glory Will Float Tomorrow,” The Times=Tribune, 19 May 1917, p. front page, col. 7; digital images, ( : accessed 18 May 2016).
  2. “Flag Raising at the Paper Mill,” The Times=Tribune, 16 Apr 1917, p. front page, col. 2; digital images, ( : accessed 18 May 2016).
  3. “Raising of Flag is a Success,” The Times=Tribune, 18 Apr 1917, p. front page, col. 1-2; digital images, ( : accessed 5 Jun 2016).
  4. “Head of Paper Co. Seen in the Movies,” The Times=Tribune, 24 Apr 1917, p. frontage, col. 6; digital images, ( : accessed 19 May 2016).

My Cook Family Layers. Like an Onion.

Or to paraphrase Donkey: Cake! Cake has layers. Everybody likes cake!

Cook Reunion, June 12, 1977
Cook Reunion, June 12, 1977

Growing up I really only thought of the Cooks as my paternal grandmother’s family. This meant attending the Cook Family Reunion in the summer, it meant that I was included in the Cook Book, the genealogical story of the family. It was grandma pointing to the Cook monument in Oak Hill Cemetery as we drove past. Funny, I can vividly recall being able to spot the stone from the road, but do not recall ever entering the cemetery to actually look at it. And of course, it meant that we thought it was kind of cool to have the family name on the S. A. Cook Armory in Neenah, Winnebago County. And of course it was the story of the Lady Elgin tragedy and the loss of the matriarch, Jane McGarvy Cook and her eldest daughter, Elizabeth, but the survival of son, Jacob Harrison. 

As I grew older, and my father delved into the life of Samuel Andrew Cook, S. A. for short, I realized that the Cook family was more than this. Much more. Layers upon layers of “more.”

As dad studied S. A., I took a look at the Civil War pension papers that my mother had ordered, and received. I became fascinated by S. A.’s older brother, Jacob Harrison. His passionate plea asking for leaves of absence to head back to Stockbridge, Calumet County, to check on his younger brother’s and sister (one of the brothers being my great-great grandfather), made me want to know more about him. This beginning study was chronicled in my 2006 self published snapshot. A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook .

What I have learned since finishing this snapshot, is that the Cooks are pushy people. They jump into my research as I work on other projects. They won’t be ignored. Case in point are the two items that I will lay out below – but need to finish other things before delving back into what this means.

Jacob H. Cook moved to Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin in May 1883. As he had in all of the communities he had lived in previously, he jumped right in and became more than just the newest pharmacist in town. Among other things he served for many years as a Justice of the Peace, his name appearing on many marriage licenses. Maybe this explains the two land “stories” I will share below. I still have to noodle through the legalese and meaning.

Telling the tale in reverse order of discovery, is a piece of land now known as 932 North Richmond Street.

According to the city of Appleton, the house that sits on this lot dates to 1900. The deeds that I am looking at, are dated six years prior to 1900, so I am assuming that they refer to the land only. 

On September 15, 1892, Herman and Julia A. Erb, sold a parcel of land located in the 5th Ward to J. H. Cook. This piece of property is known as Lot 13, in Block Two of the Hyde & Harriman Addition, [1]  and the property description remains the same today in 2016, and you can see the location of the land on the above Google Map.

What I find fascinating about this purchase, is that the deed for this property is a Quit Claim Deed, and goes on to state: “…he being the assignee of a certain land contract dated Feby 12′ 1886 between Welcome Hyde and Alfred K. Brainerd Jr.” Meaning that Hyde and Brainerd had relinquished their rights to a piece of property, giving all rights to Jacob. The sum of the purchase was $147.00.

Just shy of two years later, on August 3, 1894, Jacob sold the land BACK to a Brainerd, in this case, A. K. Brainerd Sr., for $400.00. “Part of the above consideration is $160 to A. J. Reid on his mortgage, and $100 to Nancy Mason.”[2]  So what was this all about?

The next find is even more puzzling, and is really more about the people than the land. This was the first land record that Jacob pushed into my face. As I worked to satisfy my curiosity about the Fassbender property on State Street, which I talked about in the post A Closer Look at the Map, I was scanning the index in the letter “C,” and the phrase “J. H. Cook, guardian” popped out at me. Curious, I opened the volume and looked at the record, which was dated May 1, 1888, I read: “To all to whom these Presents shall Come, I Jacob H. Cook of Appleton in the County of Outagamie State of Wisconsin Guardian of Maria Brown Insane…” [3]

1907 ATWAsylum
County Asylum for the Insane

Who was this woman, and why would Jacob have been appointed her guardian? I did a quick search, and learned that her husband had been in the Civil War, and was a charter member of the local GAR Post along with Jacob. He passed away from paralysis in the Veteran’s Home in Waupaca, Waupaca County, in 1893. The couple had grown children living here in Appleton at the time, yet in 1888 poor Maria had already been declared insane, and Jacob her guardian. The census confirms that Maria spent the remaining years of her life first in the Appleton Insane Asylum, and later in the Outagamie County Asylum. She passed away in 1904, cause, old age.

Layers. Whether we are talking about onions or cake, there is always another layer, another unexpected facet of the Cook family to learn about and to explore.

Next stop. The Outagamie County Courthouse to see if I can learn more about guardianship for the insane in the late 1880s, and why would Jacob have been an assignee for the property on Richmond Street. But first, sorry Jacob, I have another project to finish.


  1. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1890-1893, vol. 72; image 556 of 666; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  2. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 April 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1894-1895, vol. 86; image 200 of 646; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  3. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 April 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1882-1913, vol. 59; image 34 of 485; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.

Memorials – Cook Park

We have attended two funerals this month, both for men gone too soon. Reading through the obituary at the end is the usual statement: “A memorial has been established in his name.” We all want our loved ones to be remembered. As a genealogist, remembering is what I do, and I am working to write about the lives of these family members gone, but not forgotten.

When my father, Robert (Bob) Sternitzky, passed away in 2005, my mother wanted to do something in his memory. “A memorial has been established in his name.” The memorial. I realized that as part of my Library of Artifacts page, I should include these memorials. I will start with my dad.

As I have stated before, Samuel Andrew Cook was the Cook that fascinated my father. He spent years researching him, and documenting his story. One of my father’s “pet” projects was to support Cook Park, a park on Doty Island, located near where S. A.’s home once stood. William E. Dunwiddle wrote about how Cook Park came to be a park, in his book: The Parks of Neenah: An Historical Interpretation.

In 1997 it was determined that Cook Park needed to update its playground equipment. The park became one of four parks participating in the “Buy a Brick. Build a Dream” program sponsored by the Kimberly-Clark Community Playground Project. Each brick cost $30.00, and was engraved with your name, or the name of someone you wanted to honor. My father took on, as his mission, the task of filling Cook Park with the names of Cook relatives. He brought the program to the Cook Reunion that year, and worked to spread the word. At the end of the campaign, Cook Park had new playground equipment, and 161 engraved bricks were set in place. 61 of these bricks honored Cook family members. Dad commemorated this accomplishment by photographing the bricks while standing on a ladder overlooking the bricks; and the park, from the open window of a friend’s Cessna 172, flying at 1300 feet and 75 mph. 

In 1996, the year before the brick project, a planter had been created in Cook Park, and the front of the box facing the street was formed by the giant “S. A. Cook” concrete piece that once graced the top peak of the S. A. Cook Armory. The armory had been torn down in the late 1980s, and thankfully this piece had been saved, and is now preserved in the park named for him.

DCF 1.0
Cook Park, 23 Jul 2007

When my dad passed away in 2005, mom wanted to create a memorial that would be placed in Cook Park to honor both my dad and his great granduncle, Samuel Andrew Cook. She worked closely with the Neenah Parks and Recreation department to decide how best to do this, one idea was to place a bench in the park with a plaque bearing dad’s name. One thing that was missing from this park, was information telling the visitor WHO S. A. Cook was, and why would a park be named for him. And in that question came the answer.

A large rock was placed in the garden bed, and attached to this rock is a brass plaque telling the story of S. A., and a smaller plaque honoring my father. My mother wrote the history with input by me, and edited by my brother.

cook park plaque page
DCF 1.0
The plaques in place
DCF 1.0

This story is fully commemorated in my dad’s “Report” created for the Cook family members who supported the brick project. It was privately published in December 2005 as “The Bricks of Cook Park. A Modern History.” The introduction written by my father reads:

“This is not the story of S. A. Cook who was a U. S. postmaster, a mayor, a state assemblyman, a U. S. congressman, a successful businessman. This is the story of the park named for him and the combined efforts of family and friends to fund a patio of bricks engraved with the names of his grandfather, his parents, his siblings, his two wives, his three children and his grandson–plus people I call mother, uncle, aunt, child, grandchild and cousin–many cousins!”

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