(And a little info about Mercyville)

Comments or Suggestions?


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Elmer’s First Published Author

Elder J. W. Cook of Elmer has recently published a book of peculiar interest, entitled “Forty-five Years a Minister.”  This work was reviewed by a writer for the New York Sun and the Post-Dispatch because of the curious incidents related.  The author does not pretend to be a man of great learning, but in his forty-five years of clerical labor, he has seen much of life, and he tells it just as he saw it.  While engaged in his chosen profession Elder Cook earned his livelihood by plowing, chopping wood and hauling.   Sometimes he would hire out to a neighbor as a common laborer for fifty cents a day.  During his long services as a circuit rider, or country pastor, Elder Cook says that his yearly income for all his pastoral duties combined didn’t average $20 a year.  Sometimes he would travel long distances through snow and ice and his only compensation would be his meals.  At other times he would be given a pair of gloves or some socks.  Had anybody presented him with a $5 bill he would have been wonderfully surprised.  The elder kept a record of his work, which he presented in his book as follows:

Sermons preached, 5,784; miles traveled, 35,840; weddings performed, 780; miles traveled to officiate at weddings, 15,600-all on horseback or on foot; funerals preached, 936; miles traveled for funerals, 18,720.

(Reprinted from History of Macon County, 1910)

Author's note: Elder Cook's book is available on Amazon.com for $125. 


The following note was written by Patsy Knotts, Elmer, Missouri

Yes, Reverend James W. Cook was my great grandfather. He preached all over this part of Missouri and even into the Ozarks. If the book Johnnie’s referring to is the one I have, the two little girls he mentions are my great Aunts Bertha and Della (Hughes).

I have one book left and I gave one each to my daughters.

My Grandmother, Fannie Harbalt Cook Wilhite lived in Elmer as you probably recall. Her first husband was James Wade (I think) Cook, but one of the James (maybe Uncle Leonard) was a Winfield. I think I’d better look up some of the information I have to be sure.

I just went and got the book I have entitled Forty Five Years a Minister, by Rev. J. W. Cook, published at Comet Office in South Gifford, Missouri. Introduction is by J. S. Gashwiler.

First page is a tintype of Rev. J. W. Cook when he first entered the ministry. The next page is from a photograph of Rev. J. W. Cook when his day’s work was almost done.

It is certainly a true chronicle of the times. Another ancestor of mine was a doctor who served where he was needed and died trying to cross a raging river to serve a patient. His horse drowned too.