THOMAS M. COOK, retired, now living with his children at Harrisburg, Illinois, is one of the venerable citizens of Saline county, of which he is a native. He was born March 25, 1828, one mile south of Harrisburg, in a pioneer home, the son of early settlers of this locality, Thomas and Mary (Hampton) Cook, who were natives of adjoining counties, the former in North Carolina and the latter in South Carolina. Thomas Cook had resided in Tennessee for some time and had studied medicine there, and soon after coming to Illinois to establish himself in medical practice he met and married Mary Hampton. Smith Hampton, Mary Hampton's father, had moved here from South Carolina about 1820, and it was about 1823 that they were married. Dr. Cook soon built up a large practice, which he continued up to the time of his death, in 1855, at the age of fifty-six years. While he lived on a farm the greater part of this time and supervised its cultivation, his attention was given chiefly to his practice - the old fashioned "saddle-bag" practice, and he was known in the remote parts of the county as well as in the immediate vicinity of his home, and by all who knew him he was held in high esteem. During the Black Hawk war he enlisted for service, but his brother-in-law, David -Hampton, whom he had reared, asked to go in his place and was allowed the privilege. Politically he was a Democrat and his religious faith was that of the Missionary Baptist church, he and his wife being original members of Liberty church of that denomination, which was near his home. She survived him about twelve years. Of their eight children, Sarah, who married Jackson Dodds, a farmer of Saline county, died in middle life; Patience died in Macoupin county, Illinois, where she moved with her husband, Absalom Duncan; Elizabeth married Ethelbert Shaw, one of the nephews of John W. Shaw; Benjamin, who lived on the home farm with his mother, died in the prime of life, leaving a widow and four children; Martha, deceased, was the wife of Jesse Parks, of Williamson county, Illinois; Elmira, wife of James C. Ozment, is deceased.
Dr. Cook had a brother, Turner Cook, who preceded him to Illinois and was living here when the Doctor came. He afterward returned to the South, but a few years later came back to Saline county and took up his residence at Texas City, where he died at the age of eighty-four years.
Thomas M. Cook, the third born in his father's family, was reared on the farm, and spent his life as a farmer until four years ago, when he retired and has since made his home with his children.
At the age of twenty be married Miss Margaret Hamilton, a native of Jefferson county, Illinois, about his own age and a daughter of Thomas and Mary Hamilton, with whom he traveled life's pathway for nearly sixty years, until her death in 1907. Their children are: Mary Ann, wife of Richard Oliver, a retired farmer of Harrisburg; Thomas, engaged in the dairy business; Joel, a Saline county farmer who died in April, 1911; Jackson, of Harrisburg; and Wilson, also of Harrisburg, the last named being a traveling man.
Like his worthy parents, Thomas M. Cook has long been identified with the Missionary Baptist church, he having been ordained a deacon in the Bankston Fork church, five miles west of Harrisburg, in 1852. And he has so conducted his life, according to the principles and ideals he has tried to follow, that he is justly entitled to the high respect and esteem in which he is held by those among whom he has lived and who know him well.