John J. Cook

Pages 672-674
John J. Cook is also a prominent planter and stockman of Perry County, and was born in Perry County on February 13, 1839, being the son of Robert Cook and Betsy Hogan, the latter of whom was a native of Arkansas and a daughter of one of the pioneer settlers of that State, who represented his county in the State legislature at an early period. He was a soldier in the Revolution, as was also his father. Robert Cook, upon first coming to Arkansas, settled in Perry County, where he was married and resided until his death. His son, John J., one of seven children born to the parents, was reared to farm life and received his education in Perry County. The father died when John was only twelve years old, an he has practically made his own way through life since that time. After the death of both parents the support and care of the remainder of the family devolved upon him and his eldest brother, Henry N. They provided for them in the best way possible under the circumstances, and took charge of the inheritance that had been left them. Misfourtune seemed to follow fast after the loss of their parents, for some time later their houses were burned down by an incendiary, who, it is supposed, had a grudge against the father. The names of the family are as follows: Lucinda (born in 1830, married to Mr. George Smyers, who died during the Rebellion as did also his wife, leaving three children:, Fannie (born in 1833 and residing in Texas, widow of William Bannett), Ellen (who married Mr. Gray, both deceased), John J., Jedediah (who died in the Confederate service), Robert (who died at the age of seven) and Edmond (who died in his second year). Henry N., as before mentioned, was the oldest, and was married to Miss Eliza Price, by whom he had four children. He died in the military prison at Alton Ill during the Civil War. John J. was united in marriage on January 8, 1857, to Miss Elizabeth (Taylor) Wilson, by whom he has had three children. He erected a comfortable house on the land inherited from his father's estate, and resided there with his bride for one year, then moving to Johnson County Ark, and settling near Clarksville, where he remained until 1862. Being conscripted in the Confederate service, he served off and on for about two years, deserting whenever opportunity offered, as he was opposed to the principles of this side. After the capture of Dardanelle by the Federal troops Mr. Cook succeeded in escaping and entering the Union lines, and shortly afterward a troop of Confederate soldiers started out in pursuit. They appeared at Mr. Cook's house, near Clarksville, and attempted to force his wife to reveal his place of concealment, by threatening to dash out the brains of her one week old babe, which whe was nursing in bed at the time. The heroic Woman, who was almost too weak to sit up, defied them to the tooth, and when one of the soldiers dragged the little child from its mother's arms, it was only then that her courage have way and she begged them to spare its life and take her own, thanking Providence at the same time that her husband was safe. Mr. Cook reached the Union lines and was given an escort to Little Rock, where he remained for ten days and then returned to Dardanelle and engaged in boat-building for two months. He then started home with the intention of taking his family to Little Rock, and on his arrival found that their child had died during his absence. He then gathered up his household effects and portable property and brought his wife to Spadra Bluff, a landing on the Arkansas River, intending to go by boat to Little Rock, but during the night a portion of his property was burned by bushwhackers, and the balance only saved upon the representation of two orphan girls, who had lived with Mr. Cook two years, by claiming that it was their own. They then changed their intention of going to Little Rock and went to Fort Smith instead, and while there were pursuaded by a troop of Kansas soldiers to go to that State for refuge. However, he remained at Fort Smith a month and then went by boat to Little Rock, at which place he left his wife and returned to Spadra Bluff and found the two girls and the property they had saved. He brought them to Little Rock, where they remained until the latter part of November 1864, and then moved to Randolph County Ill where he took charge of a farm belonging to Mr. George Thomason, also renting a small farm of his own. In the fall of 1865 he returned to Arkansas, bringing with him his wife, a few household goods (including a cooking stove, which was the only one in the county) and a faithful dog. Upon his arrival he homesteaded eighty acres of land adjoining the old homestead, which he improved and resided upon until 1888, when he purchased from his brother's heirs the old homestead, consisting of 160 acres. He now owns altogether 280 acres and has placed 100 of this under cultivation. Mr. Cook has three children living and four deceased: Samuel L. (born February 1, 1867, died June 14, 1881), Emeline (born February 8, 1871), Betsy Jane (born May 11, 1873), Nancy Ann (born February 5, 1876), Mary Jane (born July 12, 1857, died in 1863), John J. (born March 1, 1862, died same year) and Henry N. (born April 12, 1860, died October 6, 1860). The parents are members of the Missionary Baptist Church at Perryville, and Mr. Cook is greatly interested in religious and educational matters. He was elected to the legislature on the Labor ticket, in 1887, and served to the satisfaction of his constituents and with distinction for himself. He was the author of the bill to repeal the game laws, which, however, was defeated. Mr. Cook is a member of Perryville Lodge No. 238, A.F. & A.M., having been initiated in 1887. He is a progressive citizen and very popular, and is held in the highest esteem by every one with whom he associates.