Last week while doing some research on an old home, I turned to the 1884-5 Appleton city directory, which is online at Ancestry.com. As I was formatting the source for the entry that I had found, I turned to the title page and introductory pages. I expected to learn a little about the city in these early years, I did not expect to find that this city directory for Appleton, also included a city directory for Neenah! “We have pleasure in presenting to the citizens of Appleton our initial Directory of their City, including a City Directory of Neenah, which will be found in the rear portion of the work.”  Writes the publisher, Wright & Hogg of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I would love to understand the reason they included Neenah in the Appleton directory. They are in two different counties, Appleton in Outagamie, and Neenah in Winnebago, although (according to Google Maps) they are only about 6 1/2 miles apart, Neenah is usually associated with Oshkosh, which is the county seat.
Knowing that S. A. Cook was living in Neenah in 1884, I quickly looked in the back of the book. And added to my research to-do list. According to other sources that I have come across over the years, S. A. had moved to Neenah in 1881, and at that time purchased home on Commercial Street. But the directory lists him residing on the “n. e. cor. 1st and Forest av.” which is a block away from Commercial. Guess it is time to add a trip to the courthouse land records to my list.
One other mystery resides between the covers of this directory. Listed as living with the Cook’s is “Cook, Christie Miss.” My best guess at this moment is that this entry is for Margaret Christie, the sister-in-law of S. A. Margaret (Maggie) was living with S. A. and his family when the 1880 census was enumerated,  and her obituary states that she “came to Neenah with Mr. and Mrs. Cook and lived with them for many years.”  I am wondering if it was stated, when asked if there were other adults living in the home, “Yes, Miss Christie.” And so it was written down as Miss Christie Cook.
S. A. has popped into my research a lot lately, it is almost as if he is prodding me – Hey! Pay attention! The time has come to finish your dad’s project!
Wright & Hogg, Appleton City Directory 1884-5, preface; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Dec 2015).
1880 U.S. census, Marathon County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Town of Brighton, JH Cook Enumerator, enumeration district (ED) 83, p. 6 (penned), 302 (stamped), dwelling 15, family 16-17, Samuel A. Cook household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 Sep 2001); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 1433.
“Resident of Neenah for Many Years Dies at Hotel in Florida,” (Oshkosh) Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, 28 Feb 1938, p. 9. Cit. Date: 12 Aug 2004.
As I continue to document my ancestors lives, I am amazed at how many were ready and willing to get involved in politics, and how many were appointed Postmasters.
This short post is about the Cooks, as they are the most recent discovery. Samuel Andrew Cook, or S. A. as he was known, was the first of the Cook family to move to Unity, Wisconsin, choosing to live in Brighton Township, Marathon County. From all accounts, it appears as though he moved some time in 1873. Settled in Unity, he set up shop as a Merchant of general goods and merchandise. A newspaper description of Unity published in June 1874 states: “Mr. S. A. Cook, formerly of Fond du Lac, has a large Grocery & Dry Good Store, and gets a good trade from settlers who are flocking here very fast…” 
At the time that S. A. moved to Unity, the post office was located on the Clark County side of the village of Unity. Amazingly this small village of 633 acres, is located in both Clark County and Marathon County. The decision to move the office to the Marathon County side (where it remains to this day) was made sometime in 1874, and the move coincided with twenty-five-year-old S. A. being appointed Postmaster, on April 20, 1874. S. A. was Postmaster until September 27, 1881, when his brother Jacob took over the position, and S. A. moved with his family to Neenah, Winnebago Co., Wisconsin. Jacob was forty-years-old when he was appointed postmaster, and he remained in the position until May 21, 1883, when he moved his family to Appleton, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin. Jacob was not the last Cook to be Postmaster for this small community, as his younger brother, Alfred, who was then thirty-eight, was appointed April 22, 1889, and held the post until September 12, 1892. 
My great-grandfather, Lewis Herman/Louis Herman Cook, the son of Alfred, was very involved in village politics, serving as County Supervisor. and he was editor and publisher of the village newspaper the Marathon County Register, but he was never appointed Postmaster for Unity. In 1910, Lewis moved his family to Wausau, Marathon County, Wisconsin, where he was the Supervisor of Assessments, Marathon County Clerk, a real estate agent, and finally appointed as Postmaster of Wausau. He served Wausau as postmaster from June 30, 1923, until his death on September 4, 1934.
Four men of the Cook family were appointed by presidents, approved by the senate, and served their communities as postmaster. Pretty incredible.
“‘Up the Line:’ A Few Brief Sketches from Our Reporter’s Note Book,” The Stevens Point Journal, 27 Jun 1874, col. 3; digital images, NewspaperARCHIVE (www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 30 Jul 2006).
“U.S., Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971,” database and images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Dec 2015); Marathon County, Wis., Unity, vol 57, p. 778-779; NARA microfilm publication, M841, Records of the Post Office Department Record Group Number 28. Washington, D.C.: National Archives.
This weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, we find ourselves giving thanks for family and friends. Thinking of being thankful brought this story to mind.
In the spring of 1906, Samuel Andrew Cook starting planning a reunion. A reunion to bring his brothers and sisters together for the first time in 50 years. There had been trips made by many members up to Canada over the years, but they had not all been together in one place, and especially not at the old homestead in Stockbridge. This excerpt is taken from A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook: 
“He [S.A. Cook] set the weekend of August 2-4th as the date weekend for the festivities. Coming from all over the North American continent, the whole family gathered at his home in Neenah.
Present in birth order were: Kate Healy, and her husband, Conner Healy, Unity, Wisconsin; Watson H. Cook, Washington, DC; Loretta Elliott, Toronto, Canada; Jacob H. Cook, and his wife, Anna Cook, Appleton, Wisconsin; Sarah Drake and her husband, Isaac P. Drake, Stanley, Barron County, Wisconsin; James M. Cook and his wife, Helen Cook, Baker City, Baker County, Oregon; S. A. Cook, Host, Neenah, Wisconsin; Alfred Cook and his wife, Amanda Cook, Unity Wisconsin; and Albert Cook, Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho.
This was the first time that they would all be together since the early years when the family first settled in Stockbridge, and the last time. Loretta had not been back to Wisconsin for over fifty years, and as Louis Cook, son of Alfred, remarks in his paper the Marathon County Register, the Calumet County of 1906, ‘will present a striking contrast to the wilderness to which they removed from Canada over fifty years ago.’ 
Saturday, August 4th, ‘S. A. Cook with his touring car and three other like machines that he had chartered left Neenah with the party for a trip around Lake Winnebago, arriving at their old home in the town of Stockbridge during the afternoon where they received warm welcome from many old neighbors and friends. Dinner was served at the Stockbridge Hotel, and the party was regaled [sic] with good things furnished by Mr. and Mrs. P. F. Gillespie. The trip was enjoyed by all and they were greatly impressed with the wonderful transformation in the old home they loved so well during their younger days. — Chilton Times.’  It must have been quite a sight to see these three cars, each carrying five people, heading around Lake Winnebago and into Stockbridge.
Such a large group could not all stay with S. A. at his home on Commercial Street, although some of them may have stayed with him.
Alfred and Amanda stayed at the Kasson Hotel in Downtown Neenah, and a letter written to Louis Cook by his father, gives a wonderful first-hand view of the boisterous time that they were having.
Alfred writes from the Kasson Hotel:
Neenah, Wis. Aug 6th, 1906 Louis Cook Unity Wis
My Dear Son will Drop you a few lines this is Monday morning and we are all a live and that is saying a good Deal after them acting as they have. We have all had a good time
We will Be home to morrow noon, the most of them will not go to Unity for a nother week. Tell Mabel and the Rest of them that their Mother has acted offel and if she Continues to Eat as much after getting home it is going to cost us a good dealt to keep her and they must be shure to have some Potatoes Corn-Meal and sawdust on the table when we get home. Your Father A. Cook. 
From other newspaper accounts, we know that the family extended their time together beyond this fun weekend in Neenah and Stockbridge. They traveled first to visit the Drakes’s in Stanley, and then back to Unity to visit with the rest of the family before returning to their homes. A good time was had by all!
Susan C. Fassbender, A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook, (Appleton: Self Published, 2006): 14-15.
‘Family Reunion,’ Marathon County Register, (Unity, WI), August 3, 1906, front page.
‘From the Chilton Times,’ Marathon County Register, (Unity, WI), August 17, 1906.
Alfred Cook to Louis Cook, August 6, 1906, Neenah, Wisconsin. Original letter, transcribed as written. Robert D. Sternitzky Family Archives.
Cheesemaking at the end of the 19th Century was very different from what we know today. Wisconsin cheese factories did not operate year round; they closed in December and didn’t open again until April. It wasn’t until farmers were introduced to silage, and began housing their herds in barns during the winter months, that they started to milk year round.
As the number of cheese plants and creameries grew within the state, the need for regulation became apparent. To serve this need, the Wisconsin Dairymen’s Association was formed in 1872 to aid in the improvement of dairy products, and to promote safe lines of the dairy industry.  By 1876 the Wisconsin Dairymen’s Association listed five dairies in Outagamie County, and by 1891 there were six creameries and 63 cheese factories listed in Outagamie County alone.  As the number of factories in the state grew, it became apparent that if the owners wanted any control over the manufacture and marketing of a “prime product” they would be required to form an association apart from the Dairymen’s Association, and so they formed the Wisconsin Cheese Maker’s Association, which was formally incorporated in 1899. Although many of the cheesemakers were members of the Wisconsin Dairymen’s Association, they felt that “the special problems cheese makers faced required a separate association.”  This new organization was formed to educate the farmers in the “improved techniques of milk handling and, more generally, in the ways of business society.”  They encouraged members of the Wisconsin Dairymen’s Association to meet the following criteria to join: “Any person who is a practical cheese maker, and such other persons as are directly or indirectly interested in the manufacture and sale ofunadulterated cheese may become members of the corporation by paying one dollar annually in advance of signing the roll of membership.” 
The Association ensured a quality cheese product, but much work was now needed to educate the farmer in how to deliver clean milk, as “farmers were reluctant to adopt procedures ‘dictated’ by factory men.” Farmers were paid for their milk by weight, the richer the milk, the more it would weigh. In order to increase weight, some farmers were adding water to their milk, or mixing the milk of the more productive Holstein cows with the richer milk of the Jersey or Guernsey cow to create a heavier load. This created such inconsistencies in the quality of the milk brought to the factories that in some counties “the cheese makers were obliged to set up ‘protective associations’ in order to compel the adoption of the Babcock test as the official basis for milk payments. 
The Babcock Test, developed in 1890 by a professor at the University of Wisconsin named Stephen M. Babcock, allowed cheese makers to easily and inexpensively determine the amount of butterfat in their milk. His invention, which he never patented, ensured that farmers were paid fairly for the milk they were selling, and that dairies were able to manufacture and market the “prime product” they desired.
The need for a protective union was soon seen in Outagamie County, and so on December 27, 1894, a protective association which they called the Cheese Makers’ Protective Union was organized with G. Lightheart, president; J. L. Murphy, secretary, and P. Fassbender, treasurer. The object of the union was to “protect cheese makers against cutting of prices; to prevent the violation of contracts, and to fight filled cheese.” The association was to “remedy the abuses in the way of contract breaking, unfair competition and dishonest cheese-making which have begun to be felt in the trade here.”  Filled cheese was cheese that was made from skim milk, and then had lard or stale butter added to make up for the lack of butterfat. Filled cheese when fresh was hard to distinguish from whole-milk cheese, but aged poorly, losing its flavor with time.
During the years 1894-1895 the Cheese Makers’ and Dairymen’s associations were “absorbed” in the lobbying for the anti-filled cheese bills at both the state and federal level. In 1895 the “Wisconsin legislature outlawed the manufacture and sale of cheese from skimmed milk.” The following year in 1896, a federal statute was adopted taxing and branding all filled cheese.  One of the men who proposed this bill to fight filled cheese was Samuel Andrew (S.A.) Cook a U.S. Representative from Neenah, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and the bill that he introduced “became a law by his efforts against great opposition.” 
With the regulations provided by the protective associations insuring a quality product, and farmers now milking year round, the cheese industry in Wisconsin was growing. Production reached 60 million pounds in 1900 and by 1915 the state was producing nearly 235 pounds annually. How did this compare to the rest of the country? in 1899, Wisconsin produced 26.6% of the nation’s cheese, in 1909 it was 46.6%, and by 1919 the state was producing 63.1%. Wisconsin cheese production was so high that it overtook New York as the leading cheese producing state in 1910. 
Over the next 60 years technology would dramatically change the way that cheese was produced. In 1913 pasteurization of milk began on a commercial basis, by 1916 all Wisconsin cheesemakers were required to have a cheesemaker’s license, and in 1921 Wisconsin became the first state to institute mandatory grading for all major cheese varieties. Rural America was rapidly changing as trucks and cars replaced horses, tractors began pulling plows, and most importantly, electricity became available to provide light, power equipment, and to run refrigeration. All of this new technology made life easier, yet it was to change the way cheese was manufactured to such a degree that it was to affect the life and the business practices of both the cheesemaker and the farmer.