Tag: Jacob H. Cook

Maps. Another Layer to the Story

Yesterday I presented virtually at the 13th Annual Minnesota Northstar Genealogy Conference. What a difference it is to present to an audience you cannot see, but know are there because the number of attendees is listed on the Go To Meeting dashboard.It was a great conference, and I am glad that I have my first virtual presentation under my belt. I look forward to doing it again, and I am hopeful that we will soon be meeting in person.

While tweaking my Maps presentation for this conference, I found a map that I feel adds, well, “another layer to the story” of the Lady Elgin. This 1857 Map of the Milwaukee & Superior Rail Road and its Connections. [1]

Trying to imagine what happened that day when the news of the disaster reached the Cook household, my mind goes in two directions. William might have been waiting at home on the farm in Stockbridge, Calumet County, with Sarah, James, Samuel, Alfred, Albert, and Henrietta. Or just as likely the family had traveled to Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County, where both Mary Catherine and Watson were living. Kate had married Conner W. Healy in Fond du Lac on 14 Dec 1858, and Watson married Judith Louisa Drake in Stockbridge on 12 Oct 1859.

If I were planning this return welcome, I would choose the latter, as Jane, Elizabeth Ann, and Jacob would have been exhausted from their long journey home. First boarding the propeller The Sun in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, traveling through the Great Lakes to Milwaukee. Once arriving in Milwaukee they would have caught the Milwaukee and Superior Railroad line to Cedarburg. In Cedarburg, they would have transferred to the Fond Du Lac Air Line to Fond du Lac. If you look at Calumet County lined in pink, you can see that the Manitowoc & Mississippi Rail Road was already entering the county, but was still a considerable distance from their home in Stockbridge. Arriving in Fond du Lac they would have been met with the whole family and been able to celebrate their return while taking a much-needed rest from their travels. 

What prompts me to write this post is not this anticipated happy welcome home, but the trip that William, Watson, and Jacob would make. The route they would have taken both going to Chicago, and the sad return trip home. 

As I see it in my mind’s eye, the news reached Fond du Lac, and it was from there that William and Watson boarded the Fond du Lac Air Line, riding the line to Cedarburg where they transferred to the Milwaukee & Superior line. Reaching Milwaukee, they boarded the Milwaukee and Chicago Railroad and headed south to meet Watson. Was he waiting for them in Racine, Racine County which is where he had been rescued? Or had he traveled to Milwaukee to wait. I would guess that after so many hours in the water being battered and thrown around by the waves, he was waiting for them in Racine. One can just imagine the hugs, the tears, and the joy of seeing Jacob. But also the tears and fears of what still was ahead of them when they reached Chicago. 

This brings to mind another question. In his own words, Jacob states: “It was about 2 o’clock in the night when the boat went down and about 5 the next afternoon I drifted in near enough to the shore to reach the end of a pole held out to me by a man suspended by a rope in the hands of several others from the top of that high clay bank south of Racine.” [2] Did the family stay at home till they heard from Jacob, or did they immediately prepare to leave for Chicago? 

I would guess that plans were made for the younger children to remain with Kate and Judith. Watson and Judith had a newborn son. Arthur Watson Cook was born 11 Jul 1860, and Kate and Conner’s little boy, Henry George Healy, would be celebrating his first birthday on October 4th. Two little nephews to keep entertained would help pass the time. 

The Lady Elgin was struck around 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning near Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois, then drifted south towards Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois where “it began to go to pieces.” [3] The high winds and waves sent Jacob north towards Racine, while other passengers went south towards Chicago. 

Just look at how the railway line hugs the shore of Lake Michigan! Joining Jacob in Racine, most likely on Sunday, September 9th, the three men traveled the rails to Chicago. I can just imagine Jacob looking out the window of the train noting landmarks that he could just see above the waves as he clung to “a piece of plank about eighteen inches wides by six feet in length.” [4] All three looking desperately for any sign of Jane and Elizabeth out on the water. Would Jacob have recognized the spot where the Lady Elgin was hit by the Augusta? Or was it too dark for him to recognize an exact location? 

Elizabeth Ann’s body was recovered on Tuesday, September 11th and brought with the 14 other bodies recovered that day to the Chicago Courthouse, to be laid out for identification. As Watson described it in a letter to his sister, they did not recognize her the first day, but upon returning the next morning after she had been “washed” and put in a coffin, they found her. [5]

We do not know how long William and his sons stayed in Chicago, watching, waiting, praying that they would see the face of Jane. But at some point, they would have arranged for Elizabeth Ann’s coffin to travel north to Stockbridge. Most likely she was sent home as soon as she was recognized – you couldn’t just take a coffin back to the boarding house, and park it. 

And then the long, sad trip home. Riding the Milwaukee and Chicago Railroad north, past the spot at Winnetka where the Lady Elgin broke into pieces, past the spot near Waukegan where the Lady Elgin was struck, and following the bobbing path of Jacob to Racine as he clung on for dear life, hoping to be rescued. 

Sources:

  1.  Nesbitt & Company, and Milwaukee And Superior Railroad Company. Map of the Milwaukee & Superior Rail Road and its connections. New York, 1857. Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/98688717/.
  2.  “An Appleton Man’s Escape. His Mother and Sister Were Both Lost—The Former’s Body Never Recovered,” Milwaukee Sentinel, 4 Sep 1892.
  3.  “Graves of Lady Elgin Dead Desecrated,” The Chicago Sunday Tribune, 26 May 1899, Sunday, p. 1, part 4; Editorial Sheet; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 4 Jul 2018).
  4. Ibid.
  5.  Watson Henry Cook (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) to Loretta Elliott, Letter, 10 Mar 1861; privately held by CaroleAnne Prentice Chepurny. Also: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/memories/KC97-CQL

Still Troubles Him

I am a compulsive searcher when it comes to newspapers, I just love them. The fact that new pages are continually added, and best of all, pages are re-scanned which sometimes will produce a better image, I can’t get enough. A recent search for “Jacob Cook” in the Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin newspapers told, in his own words, how he was injured during the Civil War while fighting in the Battle of Cold Harbor. For this post, I am including the story of his Civil War years that I published in my book A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook,[1] along with links to actual images from the battlefield, and then adding another layer to the story by including his words published 28 Sep 1899, in the Appleton Weekly Post.[2]

“…Just seven months after the Lady Elgin disaster, April 12, 1861, Civil War broke out between the states. On April 27, 1861, Jacob headed to Taycheedah, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin to enlist for a term of three years into Company I, 5th Wisconsin Infantry. He was mustered in as a Sergeant July 12, 1861, at Camp Randall, in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin.[3]

Jacob may have mustered in as a Sergeant, but he did not remain a sergeant for long. In November 1861 he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, and then on December 24, 1861, while in the field of Virginia, he was commissioned to 1st Lieutenant…”[4]

“…Jacob continued to prove himself a brave and capable soldier as on May 12, 1863, he was commissioned Captain of Co. I, 5th Wisconsin Infantry, mustering out as Captain J. H. Cook on September 26, 1864, from Annapolis Maryland.”

“His biography included in the Soldiers’ and Citizens’ Album of Biographical Record, tells the tale best in the flowery voice of 1888: ‘Mr. Cook’s first engagement was at Williamsburg and he was one of the detail that made the famous bayonet charge on Fort Magruder, the first in the war. The capture of the battle flag of the 5th North Carolina by the 5th Wisconsin in that action, was one of the first instance in the war when a regimental flag was taken.’ ‘Mr. Cook was in all actions known to history as the Seven Days Battles, being constantly on duty throughout, with the exception of a few hours on Friday, June 27th. He continued unhurt until the last terrific action. At White Oak Swamp, June 30, he was severely injured in his back and sustained a rupture on the left side. [In the act of changing the regiments position ‘on Double quick,’ Jacob ‘sliped on the Root of a Tree and Fell a cross a hedge Hurting his Back and Left Groin.’[5]] [https://civilwarphotos.net/files/images/779.jpg] He was under treatment at Washington Naval Hospital two months and through the winter following he served on court martial duty; he rejoined his regiment near Alexandria in time to participate in the movements at Fredericksburg, where the Wisconsin 5th was deployed to act as reserve. Early in 1863, the ‘Light Division’ was formed, and the regiment incorporated therein, having a well established reputation for reliability in action and emergencies, and the regiments composing that body were, from that day placed where danger was most certain. May 3rd [1863], Mr. Cook participated in the charge on Marye’s Heights, regarded as a hopeless attempt, but which the spirit of the soldiers made successful, and he was again in reserve at Gettysburg. [https://civilwarphotos.net/files/images/381.jpg] In July the regiment was sent to New York to aid in the enforcement of the draft and was stationed on Governor’s Island several months, where the command had artillery drill which served them well in their subsequent experience in action. At Rappahanock Station [Virginia, November 7, 1863] the 5th led the advance and suffered terrific loss. The fight at Spottsylvania [sic] was commenced May 10, 1864, and, on that day Mr. Cook received a blow in the right eye from some unknown missile, which caused great suffering at the time and has resulted in the almost total loss of vision in that eye. He did not leave his post of duty and, two days after, with four others, during the daring movement made by General Hancock re-took and operated a gun which the squad had discovered to be abandoned. They sighted the gun and, afterwards learned that their first fire swept away 42 men in the line of battle. They fired their first six-pounder until all shot in the caisson were exhausted, and three of their number had joined the ‘great majority,’ Captain Cook and Adelbert Norton only remained to relate the incident. In the battle of Cold Harbor in June [1st, 1864], [https://civilwarphotos.net/files/images/329.jpg] Captain Cook was severely wounded, a bullet passing through his right thigh, which still ‘holds fort.’ He passed three days in an army wagon before arriving at White House Landing, and three days after at Alexandria, VA., he first received medical care, six days after being shot. He was in hospital two months, and went home to furlough, returning to Annapolis to be discharged [September 27, 1864].’[6]

The wound that Jacob received in the battle of Cold Harbor took a long time to heal. His hospital record dated July 7, 1864[7] states that there is still much inflammation in the limb, and he was still experiencing fever; he was given a leave of absence of 30 days. As stated above, he ‘went home to furlough.’ On August 2, 1864, his physician in Fond du Lac, Dr. Edmund Delany wrote a letter certifying that Capt. J. H. Cook had been under his ‘care and attendance since July 12, 1864 – that he is still entirely unable for duty; and that he is not yet able to travel without serious inconvenience, and probable injury.’ Dr. Delany did not think it was ‘proper’ for him to travel for at least another 30 days.[8] On August 30, 1864, he was in Madison at Camp Randall for a checkup with Dr. C. B. Pierson, surgeon for the 28th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. Dr. Pierson found that he was ‘still entirely unfit for duty, and also, in my judgement, he is at present unable to travel without serious inconvenience, and probable injury,’[9] he recommended that his leave to be extended an additional 20 days. As previously noted, Jacob never did return to active duty, but traveled to Annapolis to the army hospital to be examined, and on September 27th he was discharged from duty.

During the two months that Jacob was in Wisconsin on furlough, he rekindled his friendship and romance with Anna Eliza Halsted, and on August 26, 1864, they were wed by Justice of the Peace, W. C. Kellogg, in the Town of Friendship, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. They were wed in the home, and in the presence of Conner and Kate Healy, brother-in-law and sister of Jacob.

Notice the bandage on his right leg, all the way down to his foot.

Following his discharge from Co. I, 5th Wisconsin Infantry, Jacob returned to Wisconsin settling in Stockbridge, Calumet County, Wisconsin. Shortly after returning home he filed for an invalid pension, filling out the Declaration for an Invalid Pension form on November 12, 1864, he was just 23 years old. His sisters, Kate Healy and Sarah J. Drake witnessed the document, attesting to the fact that his sole occupation since returning home had been ‘taking care of his leg…”[10][11]

Many years later in September 1899, now 58 years old, Jacob was an elected justice of the peace in Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin, and the Appleton Weekly Post wrote a piece about him, and the bullet that was never removed from his leg, which now “occasionally confines him to the house for several days at a time” due to rheumatism. 

Jacob H. Cook August 1906, Neenah, Wisconsin

“…In response to questions as to how he was wounded, the Captain said that his company, which was supporting a battery, was ordered down a slope about forty rods in front of the guns, who were in hiding in the words. The men were in a kneeling position and had been in that position only a few minutes when the Captain fell forwards on his face. Upon regaining his balance he looked at the men on either side and they in turn looked at him, all realizing that some one had been hit, as they had heard the ‘spat’ of a bullet. It was not until the Captain endeavored to regain his feet that he realized he had been wounded. He felt no pain at the time, and did not for several minutes. The bullet struck his limb about half way between the knee and thigh, and passed at an angle from one side nearly through to the other. He was placed in an army wagon with three others, and on account of being surrounded by rebels was three days in reaching Whitehouse Landing where he was placed on a boat that required three days to reach Alexandria. Here he was placed in a hospital where he received his first medical attention. During the six days his limb had swollen to such an extent that the physicians found it very difficult to remove his clothing. An effort was made to remove the bullet but did not prove successful.”

“Ever since he was wounded he has been compelled to carry a cane, and expects to as long as he lives.”[12]


[1] Fassbender, Susan C., A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook (Appleton, Wisconsin, Self-published, 2006), 4-6.

[2] “Still Troubles Him,” The Appleton Weekly Post, 28 Sep 1899, Thursday, p. 1, col. 4; digital images, Newspapers.com(www.newspapers.com : accessed 11 Oct 2019).

[3] Company Muster-in Roll Card, Jacob H. Cook, Book mark: 9334-D-86. Veteran Record of Jacob H. Cook, National Archives and Records Administration, Veteran Records, Washington DC.

[4] Fassbender, A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook, 4.

[5] General Affidavit for Any Purpose, State of Wisconsin. Jacob H. Cook, Invalid Pension, Sworn testimony of William Billings, Wild Rose, Waushara County, Wisconsin, 9 Mar 1886.

[6] Grand Army Publishing Company, Soldiers’ And Citizens’ Album of Biographical Record, (Chicago, Illinois. Grand Army Publishing Company, 1888), 288-289.

[7] Hospital Patient Record Number 6493, 7 Jul 1864. Veteran Record of Jacob H. Cook, National Archives and Records Administration, Veteran Records, Washington DC.

[8] Edmund Delany, Physician & Surgeon to Whom it may concern, 2 Aug 1864. Veteran Record of Jacob H. Cook, National Archives and Records Administration, Veteran Records, Washington DC.

[9] C. B. Pierson, Surgeon, 38th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, 30 Aug 1864. Veteran Record of Jacob H. Cook, National Archives and Records Administration, Veteran Records, Washington DC.

[10] Fassbender, A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook, 5-6.

[11] Declaration for Invalid Pension, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington DC, 12 Nov 1864. Invalid Pension Record for Jacob H. Cook, National Archives and Records Administration, Invalid Pension Records, Washington DC, Application no. 55279, certificate no: 37916, 19 Nov 1864.

[12] “Still Troubles Him.”

September 8, 1860

The sinking of the Lady Elgin changed the Cook family forever.  Both family-wise with the loss of Jane and her daughter, Elizabeth Ann, and financially. The long awaited money from the sale of property in Canada was lost. There are many versions to be found both in print and online of what happened that night. So for this post I am going to let Jacob tell the story in his own words. As the anniversary approached in 1892, the Milwaukee Sentinel interviewed some of the remaining survivors, and sent an artist to capture their likeness to be published along with their memories. The article was published 4 Sep 1892.

Jacob was 51 years old the day he was interviewed on September 2nd, his story titled “An Appleton Man’s Escape. His Mother and Sister Were Both Lost–The Former’s Body Never Recovered.” reads:

“During the summer of 1860, while returning from an Eastern trip, my mother, my sister Libbie and I, together with twelve others, took passage on a propeller from Collingwood, Ont., to Milwaukee. We arrived near Milwaukee in the night, and it was so cloudy and dark that the captain thought it would not be safe to attempt to land so we continued on to Chicago, where we transferred to the first boat leaving for Milwaukee. That was the fated Lady Elgin, just about to return with more than 400 Milwaukee excursionists. Of the fifteen transferred only two reached Milwaukee. There was music and dancing on the boat, and it was about 1 o’clock in the morning when our party exchanged ‘good night’ and prepared to retire. Before I reached my room, the schooner and steamer collided with such force as to throw me off my feet. The schooner was bound for Chicago with a heavy cargo of lumber from further north, and it is the cause for much wonder among those acquainted with the circumstance, why it did not try to save the passengers of the Lady Elgin by at least throwing over some of the lumber. As it was, however, as soon as they could clear away from the wreck, they pushed on, with all possible speed, to Chicago, thinking, as the captain said they themselves had sustained serious injury. Be that as it may, my first impression, when the crash came, and we could see the bright lights and heavy jib-boom of the schooner looming up over us, was that the boat must have been struck by lightening.

We soon heard calls to throw down bedding and mattresses to stop the leak but it was found that they could do no good. The boat filled with water and settled rapidly. Heavy waves stuck us with terrific force, smashing the lamps, leaving us in total darkness. Calls for life-preservers were heard on all sides, and the few wooden ones that were thrown in were seized by many frantic hands. Mother and sister were each provided with one. Furniture tumbled about, people fell over and trampled upon each other, some prayed, some cried; some crazed with agony, called for their friends on shore to help them, while others, in despair, moaned that we were all lost. The creaking and grating of broken timers, the solemn sound of the bell calling for help, the sound of distress from the whistle, which continued as long as there was enough steam to make a noise; all added to the horror of the situation. Above this noise and confusion, was heard the voice of Capt. Wilson, telling us to get the women up on the hurricane deck. The deck was soon crowded. A few moments later a monster wave struck the boat, breaking the iron rods that sustained one of the heavy smoke stacks. A flash of lightning followed, lighting the scene for an instant, and we saw the smoke stack fall across the deck, crushing, and burying several women beneath it.

While mother and sister were sitting on the edge of the hurricane deck, strapped in their wooden preservers and waiting for the end, mother said that probably the boat was so near shore that it might not sink below the surface. Those were the last words I ever heard her speak for at that instant the boat went down, taking me with it. When I came up my hands touched something, which proved to be apiece of plank about eighteen inches wide by six feet in length. It was about 2 o’clock in the night when the boat went down and about 5 the next afternoon I drifted in near enough to the shore to reach the end of a pole held out to me by a man suspended by a rope in the hands of several others from the top of that high clay bank south of Racine. The sixth day after the Lady Elgin went down we found, but could not identify by a scar only, the body of my sister, but my mother we never saw again.”

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.

Sources:

  1. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-22094-70?cc=1463639 : 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 (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-33742-85?cc=1463639 : 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 (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-8461-98?cc=1463639 : accessed 6 April 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1882-1913, vol. 59; image 34 of 485; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.

A Closer Look at the Map

Cook_Jacob_1872_Drew-St_Lawrence
1872 John Stephens Map of Appleton. Block 35, Lot 5

Writing two posts in a row that referenced the John Stephens 1872 Map of the City of Appleton, I found myself surprised at how different the city looked over the span of the few blocks between the addresses that I was studying. Looking at the map of the first address, the Jacob Harrison Cook home on Drew Street, the neighborhood looks much as it does today, recognizable at least. And this would make sense as it was located close to Lawrence University, which was founded in 1847, just as the city was being settled. Appleton would not incorporate as a village until 1853, and as a city until 1857. The biggest change that would occur near Jacob’s home  in Block 35, Lot 5, is that the University Grounds would be broken up, streets would run through it, and City Park would be established in 1882. But this neighborhood 144 years later, is recognizable. A few blocks to the west, the view of the city is very different, still wild, and not heavily inhabited. Lot 14 in Section 26 of the John Stephens 1872 map changed greatly over the years. And I find it fascinating, and frustrating. I realized that in order to truly understand the property as it changed from 1872 till 1901, I needed to start with the basics, the plat map showing the Township and Range, in this case the SW 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Township 21 and Range 17, Section 26. See the map below with all my red markings.

EPSON MFP image
Section 26, showing Lot 14

On September 25, 1882, a Sheriff’s Certificate was filed in Outagamie County, for the sale of the above named land to Gustave Zuehlke. I have been unable to locate the actual deed in the records online at FamilySearch.org, but it is referenced in the Quit Claim Deed filed December 9, 1882, when he sold the land to Christina Gross for $128.00. [1] A Quit Claim Deed is usually filed between family members, yet a quick search on Ancestry.com for Christina Gross, only told me that she was 53 years old in 1880, and lived on Packard Street, which is the street that runs below Lot 14. I am not sure if she is related to Gustave Zuehlke.

Fassbender_Peter_1872_Lot-14_John_Stephens_Map_edited-1
1872 John Stephens Map including Lot 14

Continuing my search for the next sale, I was surprised to discover a Warranty Deed for Lot 14 with an earlier date, March 13, 1882. [2]  In this sale, Christina, along with her husband Mathias sold to Lewis Albrecht the North 246 feet of the lot, for $600.00. With this sale, the large lot that measured 162 feet fronting Packard, and 495 feet along State Street, was starting to be divided and developed.

Map_Appleton_1889_Foote
Crop of an 1889 Map of Appleton

Two years later, State Street had continued north along the edge of Lot 14, and so the lot was reduced by approximately 38 feet, leaving a depth of 123.19 feet. It was at this time that Lewis, his wife Christine, Christina Gross and her husband Mathias, sold the North 60 feet of the South 180 feet of the lot. The purchaser, J. W. Corter, paid $350.00 for this small piece of land. The description of the sale makes me feel that I have missed a sale somewhere, as the numbers don’t add up, but this cropped image from an 1889 map, clearly shows the land that the Albrecht’s owned, and the smaller parcel that belonged to Corter. Time to get confused again, as on May 29, 1893, Mathias and his wife Christina Gross sold ALL of Lot 14 excepting the South 240 feet, and the parcel dedicated to State Street to B. W. Robeling for $500.00. [3]  Robeling in turn sold the North 60 feet of the South 300 feet to Peter Miller on September 18, 1893 for $475.00. [4] He in turn sold this exact land description, including a house to Peter Fassbinder [sic] on April 17, 1901, for $1,600.00. [5]  The block would continue to change in appearance over the next few years, but has now become recognizable as we see it in 2016. These two maps, Assessor Maps, one from 1900 and the other dated 1907 show the final changes. By 1907 Peter’s lot was known as Number 5, and the current description of this lot today reads: “FIFTH WARD PLAT 5WD N7FT OF LOT 4 AND ALL OF LOT 5 BLK 17” Peter’s grandson, Arthur Ellenbecker, and owner of his grandfather’s home until his death in 2003,

NW-1907 Assessor Plat
1907 Assessor Map
NW-CHG-1900
1900 Assessor Map

explained that his aunt, Anna Fassbender, had purchased the home on Lot 4 to use for her dressmaking business. When Peter decided to build a garage, he took this small parcel so as to make a proper driveway, and a better placement for the freestanding garage. Appleton.org produces nice maps of neighborhoods, and includes interesting facts about the homes here in Appleton. This is how the block looks today, in 2016. On this map it is very easy to see how the garage sits right on the property line. According to this site, the home has once again been converted back into a single family home, from the duplex that it was in 1999 when I took this picture, and when I first visited with Arthur.

1999 StateStreet2
SCFassbender Photo ~ August 1999
Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 3.06.04 PM
Appleton.org, accessed 14 Mar 2016

I am still amazed at how complicated buying and selling city property was in the late 1800s. I know that I am missing some of the buying and selling of Lot 14. The numbers just don’t add up. So in reality a stop at the courthouse is in order. But I don’t regret the exercise that I tasked myself with, of using the un-indexed records found on FamilySearch.org to learn more about the land and home that would shelter Fassbenders for over 100 years, from 1901 until 2003.

SOURCES :

  1. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-5633-20?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1882-1886, vol. 56; image 56 of 644; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  2. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,”images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-4015-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1881-1882, vol. 53; image 277 of 646; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  3. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-30335-60?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1893, vol. 83; image 280 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  4. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22094-31835-88?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1893, vol. 83; image 587 of 645; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.
  5. “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records, 1825-1980,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22094-50055-67?cc=1463639 : accessed 24 March 2016), Land and Property; Deed record, 1900-1901, vol. 103; image 586 of 663; Outagamie County Courthouse, Appleton.

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The Drew Street House

Jacob H. Cook August 1906, Neenah, Wisconsin
Jacob H. Cook August 1906, Neenah, Wisconsin

I will be speaking to the Northern Waters Genealogical Society on May 3rd, giving my talk “Putting Down Roots in the Land Records. A Beginning Look at Land Records.” Since it has been a couple of years since I last revised this presentation, I felt I needed to freshen it up a bit. I had no idea what I was in for when I began this process. We are amazingly lucky here in Outagamie County, that the early land records are browseable on FamilySearch, in the “Wisconsin, Outagamie County Records 1825-1980.” While these records are not yet indexed, the collection does include a limited number of county index books for both Grantees (buyers) and Grantors (sellers), but the whole online collection is available to browsing.

The rabbit hole that I fell down into will be the topic of the next few blog posts, but I wanted to start with this story. My ancestor Jacob H. Cook moved his pharmacy business from Unity, Marathon County, Wisconsin, to Appleton, Outagamie County, in 1883. The Unity fire of December 18, 1882 being the final straw in prompting a move, as his drug store was entirely destroyed by the fire. [1] He must not have had the energy to rebuild yet again, as in March 1879, the building that was both his home, and his place of business, burned to the ground. And now to have this new, “much handsomer store” entirely destroyed. The final straw, they were moving to the “city.”

The family lived in several houses in Appleton before purchasing their final home, which was located at 675 Drew Street. This  home was located on the corner of Drew and Fisk, (now known as E. Franklin Street). Kitty-corner from City Park. This neighborhood must have been a beautiful one, as City Park was just across the street, Lawrence University just to the south, and the life of downtown just two blocks away.

1872_John_Stephens_Map-Appleton_Crop
1872 Map of Appleton by John Stephens

Jacob purchased the home from James E and Ellen McKinny, who were residents of Lancaster, Grant County at the time of the sale. He purchased the house situated on Lots 4 and 5 of Section 35, for $2,100.00, on April 9, 1895. The frontage on Drew Street was 60 feet, and the lot extended 112 feet along Fisk Street. I love how many of these old land records include the sentence: “…according to John Stephens map of the City of Appleton, published in 1872…) This map is available for viewing online at the Outagamie County, Wisconsin website. Take a look. The family lived in this home till sometime in late 1909-early 1910 (the online grantor records at FamilySearch only go to 1901, a stop at the courthouse is in order), when they moved to New Orleans to be closer to their children.

First Methodist Church, 1925 ca

“The house at 675 Drew Street is no longer standing – at least on Drew Street. In May 1923 the First Methodist congregation was looking for property to build a modern, Gothic style church, which was to be designed by Childs and Smith, noted Chicago architects. The congregation purchased five properties at the intersection of Drew Street and Franklin Street, Jacob’s former house at 675 Drew Street being the corner lot. ‘Possession of the property will be obtained on Aug 1 and removal of the buildings will be undertaken as soon thereafter as possible. The buildings will be sod and moved to other lots before the end of the summer.’ H. A. Schmalz lived in the house at this time, and the article states that the lot at 675 Drew measured 60 feet on Drew Street, and 112 feet on Franklin Street. [2] They broke ground Sunday, July 16, 1924, and the dedication service was held on Sunday, October 25, 1925. The First Methodist church was estimated to cost $250,000, but is reported to have actually cost $350,000. [3] ‘The new edifice is one of the largest and most beautiful in the country. With one exception, it as the largest pipe organ in the middle west. The organ cost between $30,000 and $35,000.” [4]

Jacob was a well respected citizen of Appleton, holding the position of Steward for the Northern Wisconsin Hospital for the Insane in Oshkosh, Winnebago County,  he was the first Commander, and a charter member of George D. Eggleston G.A.R. Post 133, and for many years served as a Justice of the Peace, listing his pharmacy as his place of business. The pharmacy building still stands on the corner of Oneida street, and Market Street (now known as Soldiers Square). The Appleton Public library holds this linked image taken some time after Jacob sold his business to Montgomery, and I took the following images in 2006. Included in the gallery is a postcard of Oneida Street taken from College Avenue. Jacob’s building is located on the opposite side of the street, across from the library building just visible down Oneida Street.

Jacob lived a full and active life here in Appleton. There is more to tell about his story.

SOURCES:

  1. “State News,” Oshkosh Northwestern, (Oshkosh, WI), December 22, 1882: p.1.
  2. “Methodists to Build Church Opposite Park, Five Properties On Drew and Franklin-sts Purchased For Building Site,” Appleton Post-Crescent, (Appleton, WI), May 10, 1923: front page.
  3. Susan C. Fassbender, A Snapshot: Jacob Harrison Cook, (Appleton: self published, 2006): 16-17.
  4. “Dedicate $350,000 M. E. Church Here Tomorrow,” Appleton Post-Crescent, (Appleton, WI), October 24, 1925: 11.

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