Biography of Dr. Robert George Cook

Dr. Robert George Cook, who has devoted his life to the noble profession of medicine, is now (1910) crowned with some of its choicest rewards. He has followed with inflexible and unfaltering courage and ardent and unremitting toil in the pathway trodden with such eminent success by his famous father.

Dr. George Cook was born in Cayuga, New York, November 20, 1824, and died June 12, 1876. In 1847 he entered the service of the Utica State Hospital, then under the supervision of Dr. Brigham, and was actively engaged there in the discharge of his medical duties for a period of six years. His next step was a sojourn for one year in Fngland, Scotland and France, where he made a thorough study of the methods in vogue in public and private insane asylums. Upon his return to this country in the fall of 1854, Dr. Cook was again connected with the Utica State Hospital. During the summer of the following year, Dr. Cook, together with his brother Robert, made a tour of several villages in western New York in order to select a suitable site for the location of a hospital in which proper care and treatment could be given to the insane of the private class. At that time there had never been adequate legal measures taken to provide for the care of the insane, and a measure to this effect was drawn by the Hon. John C. Spencer, at one time a resident of Canandaigua. This measure became the basis of later lunacy legislation in the state. After conferences with the board of managers of the State Lunatic Asylum and their legal advisers, Dr. Cook, Robert D. Cook and William G. Wayne purchased the site on which the administration building now (1910) stands, and thus founded what is now (1910) the famous and widely known Brigham Hall, the first patient being received October 3, 1855, a fact which distinctly proves the rapidity and energy with which the plan was put into execution. From October, 1855, until May, 1860, the medical service and administration was entirely performed by Dr. Cook. These duties were shared with Dr. Chapin until October, 1869, when the latter took charge of the Willard Asylum, and from that time until his death in 1876 Dr. Cook was again in sole charge of this institution. Dr. Cook was elected president of the village board of trustees in 1860, and it was owing to his vigorous measures that a number of laws were enforced that tended greatly to the improvement of the village conditions. He served as supervisor of the county, was a member of the state legislature, and president of the First National Bank. In all these varied offices his intelligence and executive ability were the means of furthering the objects for which he had interested himself.

Dr. Cook married Caroline Bull, who was a noble and fitting helpmeet for him. During the civil war the news was received of the death of a private soldier who had been a resident of the village, and Mrs. Cook, in discussing this incident, said that a duty had been laid upon the women of Canandaigua to see that fitting provision was made for the widows and orphans of the soldiers and sailors who lost their lives in the sad struggle. As a result of her efforts in this direction an organization was formed, the Greenleaf property secured, and an institution for this purpose stands at the present day at the head of Main street.

Dr. Robert George Cook, son of Dr. George and Caroline (Bull) Cook, was born in Canandaigua, Ontario county, New York, August 4, 1864. His preparatory education was acquired in the Canandaigua Academy, and in the Adams Academy, Quincy, Massachusetts. He then matriculated at Harvard University, from which he was graduated in 1886 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and took up his studies in the Medical School of Columbia University, from which he was graduated in 1889 with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. His medical career up to the present time (1911) is as follows: Interne at Roosevelt Hospital, New York City, 1889-90; assistant physician at St. Lawrence State Hospital, Ogdensburg, New York. 1891-95: general practice in Rochester, New York, 1895-1908; neurologist at St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester; consulting neurologist at Rochester State Hospital; neurologist for the out-patient department of the Rochester City Hospital; May 1, 1908, appointed resident physician at Brigham Hall, an office he is filling at the present time. His political affiliations are with the Republican party, and he and his family are members of the Congregational church. He is a member of the following organizations: American Medical Association; American Medico-Psychological Association; Medical Society, State of New York; Rochester Academy of Medicine; Rochester Pathological Society; Hospital Medical Society of Rochester; Roosevelt Hospital Alumni Association; Society of Physicians of Canandaigua; University Club of Rochester.

Dr. Cook was married in Rochester, 1892, to Mary Belle, who was born in Haverhill. Massachusetts, daughter of Rev. Augustus H. Strong, a Baptist minister, who has for many years been president of the Rochester Theological Seminary. Children: Robert Strong, born February 11, 1895; Alan Augustus. August 17, 1896; George Elmendorf, March 10, 1898.



Ontario County NY,

Milliken, Charles F. The History of Ontario County, New York, and Its People Lewis Historical Publishing Co., New York. 1911.

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