RUFUS E. COOK. As a man whose entire business career of nearly a quarter of a century has been spent in Mulkeytown, and whose activities have served as a stimulus to the city's commercial growth and development, Rufus E. Cook commands the respect and esteem of his associates, and as a public official has demonstrated his efficiency in promoting movements for the good of the community. He was born near Mulkeytown, Franklin county, June 1, 1857, and is a son of William H. and Margaret (Davis) Cook.
William H. Cook was born in Kentucky, and there received a good education, fitting himself to practice medicine. In 1848, at the start of his medical career, he migrated to Illinois, and during the years that followed he became widely and favorably known, traveling on horseback all over Franklin and the adjoining counties. As a pioneer of his profession in this section, and a man of worth in every way, Dr. Cook won and held the friendship of a wide circle of friends, and at his death, in 1872, he was sincerely mourned. Politically he was an ardent Republican but he was active rather as a director of his party's activities than as an office holder. Dr. Cook was married to Miss Margaret Davis, who was born in Tennessee, daughter of Chissim Davis, who brought his family to Illinois in 1850 and became a leading agriculturist in Franklin county, where his death occurred in 1860. Mrs. Cook was a consistent member of the Christian church, and she and her husband had a family of three children, Rufus E., W. D. and R. T. Cook.
Rufus E. Cook was educated in the common schools, and when his father died, in 1872, he was compelled to start to make his own way in the world. Securing employment as a clerk in a general store, he worked at various places and with a number of different employers, in the meantime gaining a tborough knowledge of the business which he had decided upon as his life work. Carefully hoarding his wages, in 1888 he with his brother, R. T. Cook, was able by borrowing $300, to engage in business on their own account, and started with a stock worth $1,200. He met with the usual difficulties and discouragements that beset the young merchant trying to establish himself in business, and at times it seemed that his venture would prove a disastrous one, but his persistent and untiring
efforts, his strong determination to succeed, and the experience gained through long years of clerking, finally enabled him to pass the stage of uncertainty and, gaining confidence, he began to branch out and enlarge his enterprise as rapidly as he possibly could. The progressive ideas which he introduced into the business, the strict integrity which characterized every transaction, and the confidence felt by the buying public that every article handled by him was exactly what it was represented to be, soon gave Mr. Cook a prestige among the merchants here, and the business flourished to such an extent that he now does the largest business in Mulkeytown, has trade extending all over the county, and carries a stock valued at $26,000. He was also interested in a general store business at Christopher, in partnership with D. W. Davis, until October 1, 1911, at which time he disposed of his interests there. He is now a stockholder in the First National Bank of Benton and a large land owner, conducting a productive farm in Franklin county.
In 1893 Mr. Cook was married to Miss Orben Means, daughter of Thomas K. Means, now a farmer near Mulkeytown, who is past eighty years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Cook have a family of six children: Frank, who is working for his father in the store; Ray, Neal, Ruby and Charley, who are attending school in Mulkeytown; and Kenneth, the baby. The family belong to the Christian church. Mr. Cook's business enterprises have kept him extremely busy, but he has found time to serve his community in public office. In 1894 he was the Republican candidate for sheriff of Franklin county, was elected by a comfortable majority and served until 1898, and he has also acted as postmaster of Mulkeytown for two terms. It would be hard indeed to find a citizen whose activities have been of more benefit to bis community, or one who could name a greater number of warm, personal friends.