Jesse P. Cook was a son of William and Sarah (Cass) Cook, who formerly lived on a farm in Vernon township, two and one-half miles southeast of Fortville. Here Jesse P. Cook was born on August 13, 1853. His paternal grandparents were Jesse and Nancy (Peyton) Cook, who came to Hancock county in the early history of the county. Their educational advantages were limited to one day in school in North Carolina, of which state they were both natives. Jesse, the grandsire, however, had some ability as a singer and taught a singing school in his North Carolina neighborhood. He also acquired a sufficient education to qualify him for justice of the peace and served in that capacity in Vernon township, Hancock county, Indiana. He followed the vocation of farming during his active years. James Cass, grandfather of Jesse P. Cook, on the maternal side, also came to Hancock county from North Carolina, and settled north of Milner's Corner in the early day. He was engaged in farming.
William Cook, the father of our subject, was educated in the common schools and his life vocation was that of a farmer. He had a farm of one hundred and twenty acres in Vernon township, Hancock county, on which he was living at the time of his death, at the age of fifty0-five. His widow is still living and retains ownership in this farm, but resides in Fortville. Three sons and three daughters are living; one daughter is dead.
Jesse P. Cook was educated in the public schools of Vernon township, Hancock county, and worked on his father's farm during the years of his minority. Later he bought a farm of two hundred acres near his father's farm in Vernon township, which he still owns and operates through renters. In 1890, he and his brother, James M. Cook, together with J. H. Haskell, formed a partnership and engaged in the hardware business in Fortvile, under the firm name of Haskell & Cook Brothers. J. H. Haskell, the senior member of the firm, died in 1907, when the other partners assumed his interest in the store and continued the business under the firm name of Cook Brothers. When Cook Brothers became sole proprietors of this store, the goods carried in stock invoiced only about two thousand dollars; they now carry a stock of about fourteen thousand dollars and are doing an extensive business in all lines of the hardware and building material trade.
The year after Cook Brothers became sole proprietors of this store, they suffered the loss of the building and contents by fire, but they immediately rebuilt a larger and more modern structure-the one the firm at present occupies. They also own the State Bank building in Fortville, and were mainly instrumental in the organization and establishment of this bank. When the panic of 1893 affected the business of this bank, as it did many others in the state, the Cook Brothers took charge of the bank and enabled the institution to pull safely through the financial difficulties. This institution is now called the Fortville State Bank, and Jesse P. Cook is one of the principal stockholders and vice-president of the bank. In addition to their other business interests, Cook Brothers were extensively engaged, from 1886 to 1906, in the buying and shipment of live stock from this point. Mr. Cook also owns the garage building and was one of the original stockholders of the Fortville canning factory, and still holds an interest in this establishment.
Jesse P. Cook was married, October, 1876, to Elnora Rains, who died in 1900. He married again, in 1902, to Elnora Bills, and to this union the following children were born: Sarah, Jesse W. Daymon and Chester. Mr. Cook is a member of the Christian church.
Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 1065-1066.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 8, 2001.
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