Biography - Ephraim H. Cook

Ephraim H. Cook pages EPHRAIM H. COOK, of Shelbyville, is one of the most popular, keen and wide-awake of the men whose liberal, progressive and far-sighted methods have been potent in the making of this county. He has in various ways borne a part in its upbuilding and in the extension of its industrial interests for more than thirty years, and today is widely known as one who has been influential in the introduction and breeding of fine horses in this section of the state.
In Washington County, Md., is the birthplace of our subject, two miles from Hagerstown, and he first opened his eyes to the familiar scenes of his boyhood October 2, 1834. His father, John Cook, was a native of Franklin County, Pa. He was married at Greencastle, his native State, to Miss Hannah Hoffman, who was born in Baltimore County, Md., and died in Funkstown, the same State, in 1848, leaving five children — John, George, Ephraim H., Eliza and William. The father was a blacksmith, and removing from Greencastle to Funkstown, he followed his trade there for a time and then opened a hotel. He resided there until his death in 1857, and his community was thus deprived of one of its most substantial citizens who was greatly respected.
He of whom this brief life-record is written was educated in his native town, and at the age of seventeen the energetic, self-reliant youth began an apprenticeship at Hagerstown to learn the trade of a carpenter and joiner, he served two years, and having gained an accurate knowledge of his calling he worked at it on his own account at Greencastle, Pa., one season, and at Baltimore, Md., for the same length of time. With characteristic foresight and business acumen he judged that the more newly settled regions of the great Prairie state offered a wider field to men in his line than the older portions of the country that had long been inhabited, and he resolved to take advantage of such opportunities as he might seize here to build up his fortunes, and in 1855 we find him located at Mt. Morris, in Ogle County. He was actively employed at his trade there until 1859, and in that year took an important step in life in then making this county his future residence, which has accrued to his benefit as well as to that of the community at large. He has ever since made Shelbyville his home. He carried on the business of contractor and builder for some years, was instrumental in introducing a style of architecture useful as well as ornamental, and some of the best buildings here, including the Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches are monuments to his skill. He is a man of large enterprise and by no means confined his attention wholly to his work as a contractor, but branched out in other directions, and at the same time was interested in a flouring mill at Windsor and in a saw-mill ten miles south of the city, also engaged in the lumber business and farming, and for a time was interested in the foundry.
Soon after coming here Mr. Cook bought his farm, which is a valuable and well improved property, advantageously located three miles east of the city. It is admirably adapted to stock-raising purposes, and Mr. Cook devotes it principally to the business of breeding horses, and with such success that he is the owner of some of the finest thorough-breds, draft and trotting horses in the country. At the present time he has four stallions, one of them an imported English draft horse and one an imported Clydesdale. He is the owner of the celebrated “Hazel N.," of the Hambletonian and Membrino stock, registered number 11,600. He is a handsome bay with black points, and is considered one of the finest horses in the State. "Cuyahoga Chief", another of his fine horses, is a handsome black, of the Blackhawk, Morgan and Membrino Chief strains.
Mr. Cook was married in 1858 to Ellen Virginia Fouke, a native of Shepherdstown, Va., and a daughter of James and Angelina (Byers) Fouke. They are very pleasantly situated in one of the well-appointed residences of Shelbyville, whose furnishings and surroundings are luxurious, and the cordiality and good will exercised by its generous host and hostess and others of the household toward all who enter therein is something to be remembered with pleasure. Mr. and Mrs. Cook have seven children, namely: Wilbur; Eva, wife of Charles E. Haydon; John H., Nellie, Harry, Walter and Charles.
Our subject has not stooped to query whether or no "life is worth living", but has made it so by sheer force of an active spirit and an indomitable will, guided by sound sense and high principles and seconded by a judgment in business matters that is unerring and by a masterly ability to accomplish whatever he sets his hand to. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is liberal in his contributions for its support, and exercises true public spirit in all things that will in any way enhance the well-being of the community. He is a Republican in politics and is devoted to his party.

Extracted 07 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 218-219.

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