On a warm Monday, July 14, 1924, shortly before noon, my great-grandfather, Postmaster Lewis H. Cook was “bowling along” Highway 10 near the town of Maine, heading towards Wausau, when he “ran into a swarm of bees which made a veritable cloud in the highway.”
Sorry to leave you at this exciting moment, but I have been stuck on this direct quote from the article: “he was returning to the city through the town of Maine. Near the Burg farm on state highway No. 10…” The Town (now Village) of Maine is north of Wausau, and state highway 10 is south of Wausau. I can find no Burg listed on the 1930 Plat Map for Maine. Where was Lewis when he ran into the bees? All I know is that he was on his way to Wausau.
The story was published in the Wausau Daily Record-Herald the same day, and reads: “In an instant the auto was full of bees, several dozens were smashed against the windshield which was covered with honey from the crushed bodies.” The article goes on to report that “two of the insects crawled over his neck to his hair, but he hung grimly to the wheel” hoping by continuing to move forward he would “lose the unwelcome visitors.”
“One adventuresome bee started an investigation about his ankle and this one used its stinger when an attempt was made to dislodge it.”
When he arrived at the post office, “more than forty bees were stuck in the ventilator and others were in almost all parts of the car, while the windshield was so mussed up that an immediate cleaning was necessary.”
When interviewed about the occurrence, Lewis calmly speculated as to what would have happened if he had “a car full of passengers instead of being alone.”1
“Auto Runs into Swarm of Bees,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 14 July 1924, Monday, p. 1, col. 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 7 January 2022).
My great-great-grandfather had one of those names that could be spelled several different ways, depending on the time of day, the person putting his name down onto paper, or the weather. His name was Lewis Herman Cook or Louis Herman Cook. The name sounds the same when spoken, no matter how you spell it.
The question is, how did my great-great-grandfather spell it? What was his preferred form? Below is a list of ways that his name is spelled, minus Wausau newspaper spellings which almost always used the form, Louis.
His maternal grandfather’s name was Lewis Phelps Blood
1880 United States Census – Lewis H. Cook
6 Aug 1906 Letter written to him by his father, Alfred – Louis Cook
1912 Wausau City Directory, p. 90 – Louis H. Cook
12 Sep 1918 WWI Draft Registration Card – Lewis Herman Cook, signed as Lewis Herman Cook
1918 Wausau City Directory, p. 137 – Louis H. Cook (125)
15 Nov 1918 Marathon County Resolution – Louis H. Cook
1919 Army Transport Service, Neal returning home – Louis H. Cook (125)
1920 Wausau City Directory, p. 178 – Louis H. Cook (125)
20 Dec 1920 Evangelical Lutheran Church marriage record for Neal Jasin Cook and Clarice Ovedia Weik – Louis Cook
30 Jun 1923 Appointment of U.S. Postmasters – Lewis H. Cook
1925 Wausau City Directory, p. 223 – Louis H. Cook (325)
1928 Farmer’s Directory, p. 673 – L. H. Cook
27 Apr 1928 – Margaret’s Marriage Announcement – Lewis H. Cook
10 Jan 1928 Re-Appointment of U.S. Postmasters – Lewis H. Cook
1929 Wausau City Directory, p. 141 – Lewis H. Cook (325)
1931 Wausau City Directory, p. 127 – Lewis H. Cook (325)
28 Jun 1932 – Anola’s Marriage Announcement – Lewis H. Cook
1933 Wausau City Directory, p. 108 – Lewis H. Cook (125)
1934 Gravestone – Lewis H. Cook
His maternal grandfather spelled the name Lewis, his WWI Draft Registration Card, his Postmaster appointments, Marriage announcements, and his Gravestone all using the form “Lewis” suggest to me that this is the spelling given to him at birth. The preferred spelling.
This past week a photo was posted to the Appleton Historical Society’s Facebook page. I love old photographs and so I took a close look at this large group image. As I scanned the image a familiar face appeared, my great-grandfather, Lewis H. Cook. In my excitement, I read the verbiage associated with the post, then the comments below, and quickly responded that my great-grandfather was in the third row, first person from the right.
The thread was all speculation as to the reason for the group photograph – they were all wearing medals of some sort – and where the photo was taken. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that it must have been a postmaster’s convention, as that would explain the number of ladies included. I will say it again, I immediately jumped to a conclusion.
Why is it we sometimes do not use the basic rules and steps for sound genealogical research, but jump to conclusions with a passion? And stick to that conclusion no matter what?
I stuck to the idea that this was a postmaster’s convention even as others made sound research discoveries, such as identifying the building that stood in the background. The building is the Grand View Hotel in the Chain O’Lakes, Waupaca, Waupaca, Wisconsin. Thank you to the Waupaca Historical Society for the greatimage that helped in the identification.
Through my stubbornness, I kept searching through newspapers finding “proof.” See! Here is evidence! There was a postmaster’s convention in Waupaca, never mind there is no mention of the Grand View Hotel.
Finally, I came to my senses. Looking back at the original post I read: “My great uncle in the middle row second from the right. He was county clerk, William Wolf…” Image of me smacking my head with the palm of my hand. I had to stop being thick-headed and behave as the genealogist that I am. LOOK at the clues before me. Once I did that, it took me just a few seconds to discover the answer.
The 10th annual meeting of the Wisconsin County Clerks Association was held June 22-23, 1915 at the Grand View Hotel. The Appleton Evening Crescent reported that “County Clerk William Wolf will attend…” The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported “The state convention of county clerks closed on Wednesday at Chain-o-Lakes…There was a humorous talk on marriage laws and their administration by L. H. Cook, Wausau…” And finally, the Wausau Daily Record-Herald had this to report: “County Clerk Louis H. Cook arrived home this morning from Waupaca, where he attended the annual meeting of the Wisconsin County Clerks’ association. He was appointed a member of the executive committee and of the committee which will prepare the program for the next annual convention…”
I foolhardily was barking of the wrong tree. The good news is that I came to my senses, and I now know the significance of the great photo, and another fabulous image to showcase the many Cook stories.
“County Clerks to Meet at Chain O’ Lakes Next Week,” Appleton Evening Crescent, 18 Jun 1915, p. 8, col. 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 8 Jan 2022).
“County Clerks Will Meet Next Year at City of Superior,” The Green Bay Press-Gazette, 25 Jun 1915, p. 4, col. 2; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 8 Jan 2022).
Lewis/Louis. Note to all – Never give your child a name that has variations. Just because you prefer one spelling does not mean that this is understood by all.
I have always loved Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book The Secret Garden. I love the book, I loved the broadway play, (and was lucky enough to have seen the original broadway cast), and I also love the movie that was released in 1993. There is a dream scene in the movie, where a young child is walking through huge fronds of greenery. I have to admit this is not a favorite part of the movie for me, I can just feel the sadness that this child feels as it searches for its mother.
My great-grandfather was a major gardener, the gardens on his property in Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin were massive. I just wish that there had been color photos back in the early 1900s, so that I could really seen them in all of their splendor. As a side note, he also raised prize winning chickens, had sheep and other animals on his little “farm” in the city. But that is for another post.
As I was adding a few photos to my Legacy Family Tree database this morning, I came across this image of my grandmother, Anola Josephine Cook, age 15 months. She was photographed in September 1911 walking through massive fronds of greenery in her father’s garden. I couldn’t help but be taken to the scene in The Secret Garden. I can be pretty confident though that she was walking straight towards her father who was holding camera. Knowing he would be right there to pick her up if she fell down.
As I continue to go through files, I continue to be surprised by what I am finding hiding inside of them. Interesting things, printed in the early days of information being uploaded to the internet. My recent find was a printout stating that my great-grandfather had, at the age of 40, enlisted in the newly formed Wisconsin State Guard on August 23, 1917.
After a little bit of internet and newspaper searching, I learned that on July 9, 1917, an announcement was made in Madison, that a state guard would be formed to take the place of the Wisconsin National Guard which would leave the state in August of 1917. This new guard would be comprised of men too old or too young for the WWI Draft. It did not exempt the men from the draft once they became of age, or the draft reached out to men age 31 to 45, which it did with the third draft registration, on September 12, 1918.  Lewis H. Cook, County Clerk of Marathon County appeared that day at the local draft board in the 1st Ward of the city of Wausau, to register for the draft. He was noted to be of Medium height, Medium build, with blue eyes and light hair.
The new organization was to serve as a Home Guard Unit, and would be called upon in emergencies such as floods, large conflagrations, riots, etc. or whenever the police force of the community needed to keep order, or to meet a situation.
By this time Wausau had already organized. Following the declaration of war with Germany on April 6, 1917, the men of Wausau came together and organized as the Citizens’ Training camp of Wausau. The purpose was to drill “young men who might be eligible as soldiers of the U.S. army, to foster patriotism and to do police duty if any emergency demanded.” A petition was created and circulated on April 9th, just three days after the declaration of war. It was “quietly signed in two days.” The following Sunday they met, elected a board of governors, and the Citzens’ Training Camp “soon came into being.” “We were a motley array of citizens that met for the first drills, and we knew little about drill work. But all were fired with a zeal to be of service in any small way, that might help our country to bring to a successful issue the mighty tragedy into which we had all been thrown.” “Out of the 293 that have entered the ranks, eighty-one enlisted in the regular army.” Many immediately being “taken from the ranks to become corporals and sergeants as soon as it was learned that they had had military training.” The men of the Citizens’ Training Camp ranged in age from nineteen to fifty-five years of age, and they drilled nights and Sundays.
On August 23, 1917, when Colonel H. M. Seaman, inspector general of the Wisconsin State Guard, arrived in Wausau, enough men from this original training camp enlisted in the new guard to form Company C, 10th Infantry. The Wausau company was the 5th in the state following Milwaukee, Green Bay, Stevens Point and North Milwaukee. Fifty-two men signed the role that night, and formed a line to respond to roll call. The roll call for forty-six of the fifty-two men were listed in the Wausau Daily Record-Herald published August 24, 1917, but unfortunately my great-grandfather’s name was not one of the forty-six. The full roster was published by the coordinator of the Marathon County Rootsweb site, but as of today, Rootsweb is down so I cannot access the information that I printed September 13, 2006. The names included on the webpage were compiled from the actual service records for the 10th Separate Company, Company C, 10th Wisconsin State Guard. These papers (at least at that time) were located at the Marathon County Historical Society. The entry for my great-grandfather states:
Name: Cook, Lewis H. ~ Born: Gravesville, Calumet County, WI, ~ Age at enlistment: 40y 9m ~ Date of Enlistment: 8/23/17 ~ Married ~ Occupation: County Clerk.
Unlike any other state guard, the companies of Wisconsin were trained, and equipped by the state, rather than rely on the War Department for the donation of surplus equipment. The companies were paid an allowance for Armory rent, and an allowance for the upkeep of clothing and for general expense. They were issued uniforms that were different in appearance than those worn by the Wisconsin National Guard and the United States Army. The men were armed with arms issued to the State by the War Department, specifically for this purpose.
It was determined that all guards attend a week long training camp the summer of 1918. The Wisconsin State Guards met at Camp Douglas, Juneau County, for week long camps during the weeks between July 6 to August 2, 1918. It was a strenuous week of exercises for the infantry field camp. The Wausau guard, part of the Tenth Regiment, with headquarters in Eau Claire, and which included the guards of Wausau, Superior, Menomonie, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Ladysmith, Neillsville, Mauston and LaCrosse, attended camp during the week of July 27. The schedule for each day kept the guard busy from 6:00 a.m. with First Call, till Taps at 10:30 p.m. Each regiment was required to do guard duty, and spend one morning on the rifle range. The members of Company C, First Battalion, and the Tenth Infantry band arrived home in Wausau on August 2, 1918, riding the 4:45 p.m. Northwestern train. They then marched to their quarters at the Y.M.C.A. where they disbanded. The band went on to their headquarters at the Armory, where they also disbanded.
The Wausau guard was honored with a historic guard mount that reads: “Special orders, No. 6, General King, Wisconsin’s foremost soldier, has been pleased to make the following memorandum in a note to the commanding officer, which is published for the information of all concerned: Company C at guard mounting eight a.m. scored next to perfect. It was the finest performance clear through to the posting of the first relief I have ever seen on these grounds. So far as I can recollect and I can recollect pretty well My yearly book will show. The words of commendation from the general are the highest compliment a company can receive. The splendid exhibition was made possible by the earnest hard work done by Captain Becker and C company at the home station and in this camp. No further comment is necessary. By order of Col. Cousins.” Governor E. L. Phillip had this to say about the men of the Wisconsin State Guard at the conclusion of the camps: “These men are not toy soldiers. They come from the rank of the busy men and come here for military training and have made good use of every minute during their stay. There probably is no better training ground than Camp Douglas, dry and healthful, splendid water, in fact just the place to give men real pep.”
A second camp was held the following year, again in July. Company C maintained its position as one of the leading companies of the regiment during this second week of hard work, and hard play.
The Wisconsin State Guard as a whole was called out 3 times. The first was September 16-18, 1918 in Clark County to assist in the search for draft dodgers. The second time was August 20-24, 1919 as guards during the Cudahy riots. The final time they were called was September 9-12, 1919 when troops were assembled in the armory at Manitowoc as strike riots at Two Rivers started to escalate, but they were not used.
On July 11, 1919, it was reported that Governor E. L. Philipp had ordered for the reorganization of the Wisconsin National Guard. Included in the order was the offer to “Every officer of Wisconsin state guard who passes the examination required by the national defense act and will take the oath of service prescribed by the act, will, on approval by the war department, be also commissioned in Wisconsin National guard reserve.”
In March 1920 the order was given for Company C, Wisconsin State Guard to be mustered out of service. The company commanders were directed to issue honorable discharges to all men of their commands. The order stated: “The state military authorities desire to express appreciation of the loyal, patriotic and efficient service rendered by the officers and enlisted men of the Wisconsin State Guard during the period of emergency.”
On the night of April 19, 1920, the men of the Citizens’ Training Camp, and later the Wisconsin State Guard, gathered for a celebratory dinner, to reminisce, and to honor the work that they had done. Following the suggestion to meet occasionally, it was decided to meet annually as the Company C Club. A. P. Woodson stated that “he had formed many friendships as a member of the unit that he would not have made otherwise.”
Henry C. Smith, made the closing remarks: “The life of Company C draws on to its close. If we have helped in any little way and in a workmanlike manner the duties that have been assigned us, we have been fully recompensed. Let us cherish the memories of these three years we have had together, and resolve to profit by the discipline we have received during these dark days of the world’s most tragic period.”
“At the close of the singing of ‘America’ the party ended and the members of the company departed.”
“Wisconsin’s Military History,” database, Wisconsin State Guard (www.b-1-105-us/history/wsg/htm\#tables : accessed 10 Feb 2018).
“Wisconsin Guard Is Formed Here,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 24 Aug 1917, Friday Evening, p. 1, col. 3, digital images, Newspapers.com(www.newspapers.com : accessed 10 Feb 2018)
“Company C Club To Meet Yearly,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 20 Apr 1920, Tuesday, p. 1, col. 7, digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 14 Feb 2018).
“Wisconsin Guard is Formed Here.”
“Short News Items,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 27 Aug 1917, Friday Evening, p. 1, col. 3, digital images, Newspapers.com(www.newspapers.com : accessed 10 Feb 2018).
Wisconsin. Adjutant General’s Office, Biennial Report of the Adjutant General, State of Wisconsin (University of Minnesota, 1910, digital images, Google Books (www.books.google.com, digitized 29 Mar 2011 : accessed 13 Feb 2018).
“Solid Week of Military Life,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 25 Jun 1918, Tuesday Evening, p. 1, col. 5, digital images, Newspapers.com(www.newspapers.com : accessed 12 Feb 2018).
“Band and Guards Come Home Today.” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 2 Aug 1918, Friday Evening, p. 1, col. 7, digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 13 Feb 2018).
“Issues Orders for Re-Organization,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 11 Jul 1919, Friday Evening, p. 1, col. 1, digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 13 Feb 2018).
“Company C to be Mustered Out,” Wausau Daily Record-Herald, 10 Mar 1920, Wednesday, p. 1, col. 6, digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 14 Feb 2018).
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.