JOHN W. COOK, A. M., incumbent of the Chair of Mathematics, Illinois State Normal University, was born in Oneida County, N. Y., April 20, 1844, being the son of Harry D. and Joanna (Hall) Cook. In 1851 the family removed to Illinois, and settled in McLean County, where the father became prominent both as a business man and a politician, not only in that vicinity but throughout the State; his death occurred in 1873. The mother is still living, and resides at Normal.
The subject of this sketch completed his education in the Illinois State Normal University, whence he graduated in 1865. He then taught one year in the schools of Brimfield, Peoria County, at the end of which time he was placed in charge of one of the departments of the Model School, a position which he occupied for two years. During the seven years following he had charge of reading and elocution in the Illinois State Normal University, and since 1876 has been Professor of Mathematics.
Prof. Cook is a very active, energetic man, and besides giving due attention to his duties as teacher has found time to assist in many worthy enterprises. For twenty-six months, associated with Dr. E. C. Hewitt, he edited and published the Illinois School Master, and for three and one-half years the Illinois School Journal, being for two years assisted by Rudolph R. Reeder. He has, for fifteen years, given from four to ten weeks of his slimmer vacation to conducting institutes in different counties of the State. He has a genuine love for learning, which he has evinced by his numerous sacrifices of ease and profit.
The degree of A. M. was conferred upon Prof. Cook by Knox College in 1884. When Dr. Richard Edwards, former President of the Illinois State Normal University, was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, he at once tendered Prof. Cook the position of Chief Clerk in his office, and in fact not a year passes that the latter is not offered some important and enviable position. But he has thus far refused to accept any of them, preferring to remain and labor for the institution which gave him his education.
Our subject is the author of "Cook's Methods of Written Arithmetic," which has passed through several editions. Like his father before him he takes great interest in political matters. Religiously he is connected with the Unitarian Church, and has been leader of the choir for some time.
Prof. John W. Cook was united in marriage with Miss Lydia F. Spofford, of North Andover, Mass., on the 26th of August, 1867. Mrs. Cook is the daughter of Farnham and Lydia Spofford, and was born in North Andover, Mass., in 1846, and by her union with our subject has become the mother of two children Agnes S. and John L. Our subject and his family occupy a beautiful and tasteful home, and number among their warmest friends and associates the cultivated people of Normal.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 130-1. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards