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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
William D. Cook
(Reprinted from the History of Macon County, 1910)
This prominent and progressive farmer, dairyman and stockraiser of Callao township, who occupies a leading position in the industries with which he is connected and is generally esteemed as one of the forceful and influential citizens of his locality, was born March 22, 1862, at Elmer, Macon county which his grandfather helped to found and where his father grew to manhood and passed the remainder of his days at Callao. The grandparents and the parents were all natives of Kentucky, and the paternal grandfather moved his family to this county in 1838 and located on a tract of wild land on a part of which the town of Elmer now stands. There he redeemed his land from the wilderness and made it over into a good farm, helping to start the influx of population and the spirit of improvement that have resulted in the present high grade of development of the region.
The parents of William D. Cook were James Wade and Mary Ellen (Truitt) Cook, natives, as has been stated, of Kentucky, the former born in Barren county and the latter at Bowling Green in Pike county, of Missouri. They have seven children four of whom are living. They are: Victoria, the wife of Robert L. Wilkin, of San Juan, New Mexico: Ida, the wife of James Smith, of Ethel, Missouri; William D. and Phineas G., of Callao. The father died in 1902. He was a prosperous farmer and a well esteemed citizen. The mother is still living and has her home in Elmer. She is advanced in years but enjoys good health and is hale and vigorous. Her experience has been highly interesting, although it has been repeated many, many times in American history. She came, to this county when it was very sparsely populated and the greater part of it was still under the dominion of its savage denizens of forest and plain, man and beast, and yet bore on its surface the wild appearance it has worn for ages. The soil was virgin to the plow, the forests were unbroken, the whole region, except in spots, was an unpeopled waste, untouched by civilizing influences and with all its powers and possibilities still slumbering as they had been from the time when the land emerged above the surface of the great deep. She has lived to see it a veritable garden in productiveness, the home of a progressive, enterprising and all-conquering people and rich in all the achievements of modern times. And she and her kindred have helped to accomplish all the improvements.
Her son, William D. Cook, attended the district schools in the neighborhood of his home and completed his scholastic training at St. James Academy in Macon. After leaving that institution he taught school for a number of years and had the benefit of the self-knowledge and knowledge of others which that instructive occupation gives its wide awake and observant pupil. He had aspirations, however, for a broader if not a higher field of effort, and with the savings he had accumulated he bought a farm and started a dairying business on a small scale. He has continued both his farming and his dairying ever since, steadily expanding both and also increasing his enterprise in raising stock for the markets, until now all are of magnitude and highly important in a commercial way. He owns 209 acres of good land improved with good buildings and fully equipped for advanced farming, and he cultivates it with spirit and intelligence. His stock interests are extensive and profitable, and his dairy work not only adds considerable to his revenues but also aids largely in supplying many wants of the community.
Mr. Cook has given full attention to the development and advancement of the region and the enduring warfare of its people. He is a stockholder and director of the Callao Fair Association and also a stockholder in the Macon Creamery. He has served ten years or longer as a member of the school board, and in many other ways has ministered to the welfare of the township and its inhabitants. Fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America and the Knights of Pythias, and takes an active part in the meetings and proceedings of his lodge in each. He is a member of the Christian church in religious affiliation and earnest in promoting the activity and usefulness of the congregation to which he belongs. In his church membership he has departed from the example of his father, who was a Primitive Baptist, and was also zealous in the service of his church. On December 31, 1884, Mr. Cook was united in marriage with Miss Laura D. Gentle, a native of Callao but of Kentucky parentage. They have two children, their son Herbert V. and their daughter Pauline.