Biography of Nelson W. Cook
Rutland County, Vt. Biographies





COOK, NELSON W., was born in Mount Holly, Vt., August 23, 1832. He is the seventh in descent from Gregory Cooke, his Puritan ancestor, who, with his three brothers, George, Joseph and Stephen, came early to New England from Stannawav, county of Essex, England, and settled in Cambridge, Mass. They at once assumed very prominent positions in the community, both in civil and military affairs, and were among the most distinguished citizens in the colony. George Cooke was selectman of Cambridge three years, deputy or representative fiver years, and Speaker of the House in 1645. In 1645 he was elected one of the Reserve Commissioners of the United Colonies. He was appointed in 1637 captain of the Cambridge militia; became a member of the artillery company in 1638, and its captain in 1643, and when a similar company was incorporated in Middlesex on May 14, 1645, he was placed at the head of it. He was one of the commissioners and commander in chief of the military expedition sent to Rhode Island in 1643. He returned to England in 1646, became a colonel in Cromwell's army and was "reported slain in the wars of Ireland in the year 1652." President Dunster, of Harvard College, and Joseph Cooke were administrators of his estate. Joseph Cooke was selectman of Cambridge ten years, from 1635 to 1645; town clerk six years, from 1635 to 1641; local magistrate from 1648 to 1657; and representative six years, from 1636 to 1641; he was also an officer in the militia and when George embarked for England he was his successor in command. Stephen Cooke was selectman in Mendon in 1674. '8o, and 'Si. He was a commissioner of highways for the same years, and one of a committee to settle the first minister in that town. He removed to Watertown and in the church records of that town Rev. John Bailey says: " I did in the name of the church admit Deacon Stephen Cooke to full communion, he being a member of the church in Mendon He was one of the original members and a deacon of the second, or Rev. Samuel Angers' church of Watertown.

Gregory Cooke, of Cambridge, Mass., in 1665, bought of Abraham Williams his mansion house and about six acres of land, and in 1672 Jeremiah Bummer, of Boston, conveyed to him one hundred and twelve acres more; this place was the home of some of his descendants to about the time of the Revolution. It was probably occupied by his son Stephen, and Colonel Phineas Cook was the last of the name who possessed it. Gregory Cook was, in 1667, selectman and constable of Cambridge. He had a grant of land in Mendon, and was selectman of that town in 1668-69. He was a commissioner for laying out highways the same years also one of a committee for settling' the first minister in that town. He returned to Cambridge and was again elected selectman in 1678-79 and '81; in 1674 he was grand juror.

Samuel Cook, son of Thaddeus, was born in Preston, Conn., on May 18, 1765. He married, January 1, 1791, Sally Chamberlain, of Wethersfield, Vt., a daughter of Oliver Chamberlain. She was born in Windsor, Conn., December 19, 1766, and died May 24, 1861, aged ninety five years. He died September 25, 1852. For his biographical sketch, see history of the Quakers of Mount Holly. Chauncey Cook was the fourth son of Samuel. He was born in Mounts Holly, Vt., on April 22, 1804. He married in Mount Holly on September 26, 1826, Ruby Wheeler, who was born in Newport, N. H., on February 2, 1804. In addition to the work of cultivating a large farm, he bought butter, cheese and cattle for market, going to Boston ten or twelve times a year. He was engaged in the business for fifteen years. While on one journey to Boston (about 1846) he exhibited, in an affray with highway robbers at Tewksbury, Mass., a natural shrewdness and coolness, which it is not too much to say have been inherited by his descendants in Mount Holly. About ten o'clock in the evening of which we speak, and while he was yet a mile from his destination for the night, two men sprang from the woods, through which he was traveling, one seizing the horses' heads, while the other mounted the wagon and with presented pistol demanded the victim's money. The latter jumped down and ran in the direction of the tavern which was his destination for the night, but was so rapidly pursued by the robbers, who also fired several shots at him, that he gave himself up. Among the things which they rifled from his pockets was a letter, which he requested to be left with him, as well as a memorandum book. They complied with his request and fled into the woods with the pocket book. The letter contained five hundred dollars which Mr. Cook was conveying for a neighbor in Mount Holly to a Boston merchant. The robbers, Thomas Burns and John Gagger, were arrested, examined and held for trial, being confined in jail at Lowell several months. At the trial they were successfully defended by a young lawyer who has now a national reputation, General Benjaman F. Butler.

When the Rutland and Burlington Railroad was completed, Mr. Cook was the first station agent at Mount Holly, and was succeeded by his son Aaron, the present incumbent. These two have held the office thirty six years. Mr. Cook was assessor in 1829 and selectman in 1832, '33, '34 and '37; was appointed by the governor justice of the peace in 1836. He was elected representative in 1838-39. He was grand juror several years, also auditor, and in later years was elected justice of the peace, but never qualified by taking the oath of office. He had five children which lived, and seven which died in infancy. The names of those which lived to maturity are as follows: Carlos, born May 19, 1829; died in Boston, Mass., July 14, 1884. Rosana, born March 20, 1830; married Austin Constantine, November 1, 1860, and died in East Wallingford, January 22, 1865. Chauncey Langdon, born August 23, 1832. Nelson Wyatt, born August 23, 1832. and Aaron Wheeler, born August I I, 1837. Chauncey Cook died March 31, 1865.

Nelson Wyatt Cook is the third son of Chauncey. His boyhood days were spent in working upon his father's farm summers and attending the district school at Mechanicsville winters until he wads nineteen years of age, when he went to Massachusetts and worked eight months on a farm in Waltham. He returned home and went to school the following winter. The next spring (1852) he went to Boston, Mass., and entered Corner's Commercial College. After completing his business education he engaged himself as clerk in the produce and fruit store of John Sanderson, in whose employ he continued several years. He then established himself as commission merchant for the sale of produce and was also interested in real estate, and a trader in notes, stocks and bonds. While residing in Boston he was a member of the following societies: The Mercantile Library Association, The Young Men's Christian Union, and the Parker Fraternity. He soon became a subscriber for Mr. Garrison's Liberator and a constant reader of the numerous tracts and other literature issued from that Gibraltar of liberty on Cornhill - the reading of which had its influence upon his mind. He early joined the New England Anti Slavery Society, and continued one of its active members until the war of the Rebellion freed the slaves. At the rendition of the fugitive slave Anthony Burns, from Boston, Mr. Cook was one of those who made the attempt to rescue him from the authorities. An indignation meeting was held at Fanuiel Hall and Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker were the principal speakers. Mr. Parker, in his speech, used the following language: "Americans have been called cowards, and the sons of cowards, Sons of cowards we are not, cowards we are if one poor, helpless, defenseless black man leaves the soil of Massachusetts as an unprotected, unrescued victim of oppression." After these words had been spoken the rescuers rushed from the hall and were soon at the entrance of the courthouse where Burns was confined; the crack of pistols were heard and the booming of a timber against the door, which gives way; and there on the portal is a dead man. At the sight the rescuers hesitate and the opportunity for rescue is lost. During the exciting times in the winter previous to the firing by the rebels on Fort Sumter, the mayor of Boston, Joseph M. Wightman, and other city officials, attempted to break up an anti slavery convention in Tremont Temple. Mr. Cook was one of those who held "the fort" until after the evening session, and was among those who accompanied Wendell Phillips home - protecting him from the violence of the mob until he was safe in his house on Essex street. He was a member of one of the first Republican clubs organized in Massachusetts, and was present at the meeting in Fanueil Hall when the Republican party in Massachusetts was organized and named. In 1872 Mr. Cook retired from active business and the following year, June to, 1873, he sailed in the steamship Malta from Boston for Europe, spending the summer months in London and Paris and returning in the autumn. In April, 1874, he again went abroad, visiting nearly all the capitals in Europe and many places and objects of interest. He sailed the third time for Europe in February, 1875, and he spent every succeeding summer in traveling abroad and returning in every autumn until 1879. He was married to Mary Alma Kinersley, daughter of Dr. Edward Baker, of London, England, on July 8, 1879, by the Rev. John M. Lester at St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square, London. Mrs. Cook was born in New York city, February 21, 1854, and lived there until she was three years of age, when she returned with her parents to England. Dr. Baker commenced practice as a surgeon in the English navy, and a great portion of the time he was with the fleet stationed at the West Indies and North America, and when he arrived at New York he decided to establish himself in practice there. Dr. Baker, after practicing at his profession about four years in New York city, returned to London, England, where he now resides.

Mr. and Mrs. Cook came to America in August, 1879, and returned to England again in March, 1881; living in London the following summer. In 1882 Mr. Cook erected an elegant residence in Mount Holly, where he has since resided. He has a young family of three children: George Chauncey, born April 14, 188o; Emma May, born September 21, 1881, and Rosana Alma, born April 13, 1884

From:
History of Rutland County, Vermont
Edited by: H. P. Smith and W. S. Rann
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, N. Y. 1886


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