I. H. Cook, editor of the Putnam Record, published at Hennepin, was born in Madison county, Indiana, January 20, 1836. His parents were Francis and Lucy (Tillson) Cook, both natives of Vermont. The father died when the subject of this review was only two years of age and the mother was twice married after that. She died several years ago in Huntsville, Indiana.
The boyhood days of I. H. Cook were largely passed in the state of his nativity and after he had attained the age of six years he lived most of the time in Huntsville. He early became familiar with farm labor and in his youth attended the common schools, acquiring a fair English education. When twenty years of age he visited an older brother in Anderson, Indiana, who was conducting a printing office and publishing a little paper. This was Mr. Cook's initiation into the printing business and he decided to make it his life occupation. He entered his brother's employ, working with him for about a year, after which he became a partner and continued in the office for three or four years. On the expiration of that period they disposed of the little journal and started for southwestern Missouri, a party of six driving across the country with teams, being thirty-one days on the road. Their wives and families came by railroad and were met at the terminus of the road, about one hundred and fifty miles from where they located. In the meantime Mr. Cook had learned the trade of shoemaking and followed that business in connection with the sale of shoes. He continued to live in Missouri until January, 1861, when, anticipating the trouble between the north and the south, he left that district, which was already the scene of considerable hostility, and went back to Indiana, and in 1823 moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, where he engaged in various enterprises, working in a printing office and also at shoemaking.
In 1865 he came to Hennepin, where for a time he worked at painting and paper-hanging. There was no paper nor press of any kind in Hennepin, all the work being done at Henry or in Princeton, and, believing this was an advantageous opening, Mr. Cook went to Peoria and purchased a little army press. He then began doing job printing in the city hall building and after the establishment of that business his fellow townsmen solicited him to publish a paper. On the 25th of June, 1868, the first number of the Putnam County Record appeared, a little leaflet nine by twelve inches, which he printed for one year. He still has every copy of that first volume on file. After a year he enlarged the paper to a six column folio, and in 1877 he made it a seven-column folio, then in 1882 it was enlarged to its present size a five column quarto, and took the name of the Putnam Record. He has a Prouty power press with all attachments for power, but has never put in an engine, all of the work being done by hand power. The paper is neutral in politics and is a clean, newsy sheet. Mr. Cook and his son are experts at printing and few, if any, typographical errors appear in their paper, which is published each Wednesday and has a wide circulation.
Mr. Cook was married April 4, 1857, in Anderson, Indiana, to Miss Sophia Hengstler, who was born in Pennsylvania, and with her parents removed to the vicinity of Cincinnati, Ohio, in her early girlhood. When sixteen years of age she went with an uncle to Indiana and worked in Anderson. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Cook have been born four children, of whom two are living. Mary B. is now the wife of John P. Towle, a resident of Hennepin. Edwin F. died at the age of four years. Charles W., who is in the office with his father, has grown up in the printing business and with the exception of a few years spent in Michigan has been continuously connected with his father in the printing trade. Arthur, deceased, completed the family.
At general elections Mr. Cook votes the democratic ticket, but in local matters is independent. He has been identified with the Odd Fellows since 1875 and is heartily in sympathy with the teachings of the organization and its beneficent purposes. He has resided continuously in Hennepin for a period of forty years or more and the interests of the village are greatly promoted through his efforts and enterprise.
Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 453.