Biography of Wylie White Cook

Wylie White Cook. During a period of more than thirty years, Hon. Wylie White Cook has been almost constantly before the people of Kansas as the incumbent of public positions, and that he still retains in marked degree the confidence and respect of Kansans is evidence of his worth, fidelity and integrity, for the duties of the various offices which he has held have in nearly every case directly affected the welfare of the community. In Mr. Cook’s case it has almost invariably been a case of the office seeking the man, for with but one exception in his long career his election or appointment has come to him without solicitation on his part, a fact which makes his record all the more remarkable. Mr. Cook, who has been a resident of Kansas since July 1, 1881, and is now living at Topeka, was one of three children of Levi and Margaret (White) Cook, and was born at Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana, July 1, 1859.

The family of which Mr. Cook is a member originated in Scotland, from which country the progenitors came to America in 1640. On the journey to this country, the father died and was buried at sea, and the mother, with several children, established the family in the East, from whence it scattered to Pennsylvania and North Carolina. It is from the latter branch that Wylie W. Cook is descended. His grandfather, Isaac Cook, was born, reared and married in North Carolina, and although of good old Quaker stock and a disbeliever in war was a member of a patrol regiment in the American army during the War of 1812. In 1826, Isaac Cook struck out for the untamed West, his children riding in the wagon, while he and his wife walked the entire distance to Indiana. Long before they had reached the Western Reserve they found the country sparsely settled, and as they came further and further toward the setting sun they were more and more frequently harassed by Indians and endangered by wild beasts. However, they eventually reached their new home in Henry County, Indiana, where they built a rude log cabin in the wilderness, cleared a farm after years of hard labor, and rounded out lives of usefulness which were characterized by honest labor and helpfulness to their neighbors that won them the respect and esteem of their community.

Levi Cook, father of Wylie W. Cook, was born in 1832, in Henry County, Indiana, six years after his parents’ arrival. Although other settlers had commenced to arrive, the country was still wild and unpromising, and his boyhood was passed in helping his father to put the land in readiness for planting. His education was limited to attendance at the district schools, the primitive ones of his day, but in after years he became a man of broad general information, and of prominence in his community. For a number of years he served as county commissioner by popular vote of the people, was county assessor for a long period, and also acted as justice of the peace for many years. His home was at Noblesville, the county seat of Hamilton County, and there his death occurred. Mr. Cook was highly respected in his community as a man of sterling qualities and strength of character, a devout Christian, and an active worker in the movements founded by the Methodist Church.

Wylie White Cook received his education in the district schools of Hamilton County, Indiana, which he attended for three months each winter, the greater part of the remainder of the year being given to assisting his father in the cultivation of the home farm. He was thus engaged until he was sixteen years of age, when he received his teacher’s certificate, and took charge of the school which he had himself attended. After two years spent as an educator, he turned his attention to mercantile lines, becoming a clerk in a dry goods store at Noblesville, and while there was married February 19, 1879, to Miss Mary L. Sanders, a native of Indiana. They became the parents of five children, of whom four are living: Minnie, who is the wife of R. S. Holding, of Cuba; Alberta L., of Honduras, auditor of the United Fruit Company; Lois M., wife of F. N. Moseley, connected with the United Fruit Company, at Port Antonio, Jamaica; and Edith, the wife of George L. Maltby, of Trenton, Missouri.

In July, 1881, Mr. and Mrs. Cook moved to Kansas and located in Labette County on a farm, where they remained until 1884, in which year Mr. Cook was appointed by the county commissioners to the office of assistant county clerk. In the following year he was elected county clerk by vote of the people and held that office for two years, following which he was again nominated but met with defeat at the hands of the Farmers Alliance Party. During this time he was located at Oswego, and at the expiration of his term of office he became outside representative for the Deming Investment Company, a capacity in which he acted for two years. From that time forward until 1895 he acted either as deputy county clerk or deputy county treasurer, and in January of the year mentioned was appointed by the late Hon. George E. Cole to the post of assistant state auditor, with headquarters at Topeka. After two years in this capacity he returned to his Labette County farm (which he still owns), and remained there until his reappointment to the office just mentioned, January 1, 1899, by Mr. Cole. He remained in that office until 1901, when he became interested in the purchase and sale of bonds, and in 1902 helped to organize and was elected treasurer of the Banking Trust Company, of Kansas City, Missouri, one of his associates being John W. Breidenthal. Mr. Cook was treasurer of this, the pioneer trust company of the state, until 1907, when he retired to become a special accountant, being engaged in this work until he was appointed, in 1909, to the post of chief of police of Kansas City, Kansas, by Mayor Guyer, under whose administration he served. Two years after retiring from that post, he was appointed commissioner of elections for Kansas City, by Governor Stubbs, and held this office until January 1, 1913, when he resigned to accept the position of assistant state treasurer under Earl Akers. He is now state treasurer. Mr. Cook is pardonably proud of the fact that aside from the office of county treasurer in Labette County, his various official positions have been tendered him, and he has never on any occasion with this exception sought office. His services in his various positions have been singularly free from criticism, even by members of opposing parties, and his record will bear the closest inspection.

Mr. Cook is a member of the Blue Lodge, Chapter and Commandery of the Masonic order; of the Modern Woodmen of America and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, of Oswego; of the Loyal Order of Moose, of Topeka; and of the Improved Order of Red Men, of Kansas City. He has always been a loyal adherent of republican principles. He belongs to the First Methodist Church, as does Mrs. Cook, who takes an active and prominent part in religious and charitable work.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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