Life History of John Howard Cook Sr.
John Howard Cook Sr. was born on April 3, 1891, in South Weber, Weber Co., Utah, a son of Andrew Beverage Cook and Mary Amanda Pingree. He was born upstairs in a small frame home (a lean-to was built later to the west side). The home was situated on an L shaped piece of land with a creek running to the rear. A corral was built to the top of the L, so that the animals could obtain water from the creek. The family had planted a small orchard as well as a garden and raised some alfalfa, even though there was little room for the planting of crops. Howard was the second of eight children born to this couple. His brothers and sisters, including himself were:
1. Andrew--born Dec. 11. 1889 in South Weber.
2. John Howard Sr.--born April 3, 1891, in South Weber.
3. Mary Jennett (called Jenny)--born Apr. 9, 1892, in West Kaysville.
4. David Laverda (called Vird)--born Dec. 4, 1894, in Layton.
5. Ida Eudora (called Dora)--born May 22, 1896, in Layton.
6. Louis Pingree--born Jan. 21, 1898, in Layton.
7. Claude Hunter--born Sept. 12, 1899, in Layton.
8. Myrtle Amanda--born June 23, 1901, in Layton.
Andrew Beverage Cook, Howard's father, was born on the southeast corner of the temple block in Salt Lake. His parents, David Simpson Cook and Janet Hunter Cook, were at that time assigned to help quarry the granite to build the Salt Lake Temple. Later the family moved to South Weber and settled. Andrew Beverage met and married his sweetheart, Amanda, while living in South Weber. They were married in the Logan Temple on Sept. 12, 1888. Andrew Beverage taught school in the Kaysville and Layton area, and after sometime, it was decided to settle there. Andrew and John Howard were born in the family's first home in South Weber, prior to the family moving into a frame home in West Kaysville. This home stood on the northeast corner of Crazy Corner and Angel street. It was here that Mary Jennett was born.
Later, Andrew Beverage built the family a home on West Gentile Street in Layton, and it was here that the rest of the children were born. Howard's father was an industrious man, and he bought the family eighteen acres of land directly across the street in front of the home. As well as teaching school and working in the flour mill in Kaysville, he farmed this land. Years later, Howard's mother bought one acre of land on Flint Street on which the family grew corn. Andrew Beverage died on Sept. 25, 1903, during a typhoid epidemic that was raging in the area. On Oct. 2l, 1903, Howard's brother, Claude, (at 4 years of age) also died of typhoid.
Howard's mother, Mary Amanda Pingree, was born on March 26, 1867, of Mary Morgan and Job Pingree on 26th Street and Wall Ave., in Ogden, Utah. She was the fourth child of seven, born to this couple. Her father, Job Pingree, was a very prominent banker and businessman in Ogden. At the time Mary Amanda was born, Job Pingree was a polygamist, being married also to Ester Hooper. Both families were living in the Pingree home. Later, the family of Mary Morgan moved to a small home next to their large rock home. While visiting a sister, Adella Pingree Kendall, in South Weber she met Andrew Beverage Cook, her future husband, and they were married. Mary Amanda was an industrious, fine woman, who when left with her large family and doctor bills at the age of 36, went forward and succeeded to the blessing of her children. At the death of her husband, she decided to stay in their family home and farm the land. She was just a "city girl," but with the help of a neighbor, she was able to help teach the boys to be industrious, hard workers. She was a good neighbor and was highly respected by all those in the area.
Howard was twelve years of age when his father died, and being the second oldest son in the family, was responsible to help his mother help support the family. He learned at an early age the meaning of hard work and having little means.
The family would arise each morning at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., have a small breakfast, and then go into the field to work--Mary Amanda working along with the boys, and Mary Jennett staying at home to cook the lunch, clean the house, and attend to the smaller children.
They raised beets, potatoes, grain, and hay, and when the one acre on Flint Street was purchased, they planted corn. The land was good and produced well. In the evening, Howard and his brother, Andrew, would do the chores with the animals, fix the barn or woodshed, etc., and their brother, Vird, would hoe and weed the garden and trim the hedge in front of their home. Years later, Howard still enjoyed getting out and working in the fields. He found it a source of relaxation.
Mary Amanda was an immaculate house keeper, as well as doing a great deal of handiwork (crocheting and braiding rugs) in the evenings. Her hands were never idle. She was an excellent cook and especially enjoyed baking. The children frequently had friends in the home, and it was a frequent occurrence for the neighborhood children to stop by for a piece of hot bread. Howard's mother was affectionately called "Ma," or "Ma Cook," by many.
With Mary Amanda working with her sons in the fields, they grew to be very close, and thus she had little or no discipline problems. The boys, even in their older years, would call frequently or go see their mother. They were most concerned with her welfare and honored her highly. Howard's brother, Vird, said of his mother, "If ever there was a perfect woman, it was Ma."
Ma was a hard worker, honest and thrifty and felt a great responsibility to her family. Through her good management, she provided the necessities for her family. She never remmarried after the death of Andrew Beverage. She stated, in her later life, that she did not want to marry because she did not want her sons and daughters subjected to a man's criticism of whom she could not be sure. She was most careful that they had the influence of only the people who lived in accordance with gospel principles. She would not hire the vagrant workers traveling through Layton at various times, because she did not want them to be taught swearing or other things contrary to the gospel.
Ma Cook loved animals and the family always had a pet lamb, cats, or chickens at the home site. It was probable that Howard learned from his mother her concern and consideration for those around her. He, like his mother, was very generous and thoughtful.
Ma went out little socially, but encouraged her children as they grew up to associate with their friends. The family did attend their church meetings and had many associations with the saints. One of the ways she influenced her children was to always talk highly of them. In a recording taken in 1954, when she was 80 years of age, she was asked about her son, Howard, and she said, "He was always a good boy, highly considerate. If his children turn out as good as their father, they will be truly fine people."
Howard's brother, Andrew, was partially deaf from a bout with scarlet fever in his youth. Ma wanted to live to care for him and would forgo many activities to stay home with him. Because of his deafness, he would not join the social activities.
The family home at the time of Howard's father's death, consisted of five rooms. After his death, Sam Banford, Ma's uncle, built on a large kitchen and back porch. This kitchen was a gathering place for the family. Later on, a porch on the southeast was built, and last of all the boys finished off a storage cellar underneath the bedroom on the south. The story is told by Vird of how they had to pour the floor twice to keep water from seeping in the cellar. The first time they poured a floor, it buckled, and a foot of water was in the basement. The second time, a foot and a half of cement was used. The cellar was so a six foot man could stand straight up, and it was cold at all times.
There was a barn and corral to the back of the house in which their large work horses were kept. In front and to the west of the barn was a pigpen and to the east between the barn and the house was a large wood and equipment shed.
When the children were young, the family attended the West Layton ward. Before Howard was married, he was active in the MIA as one of the counselors and learned much of his strength in the gospel at an early age in his home. Howard was baptized on July 9, 1899, by Charles W. Robbins, and confirmed the same date by John W. Thornley. He was ordained a deacon on Feb. 26, 1905, by William W. Nalder. He was never ordained a teacher, but was ordained a priest on Jan. 7, 1907, by George Vickers Stevenson. He was ordained an elder on Nov. 28, 1910, by Charles A. Layton, and received his Patriarchal Blessing on September 23, 1920, by Hyrum G. Smith.
Howard attended elementary school in Layton and then traveled to Ogden to attend Ogden High School. He graduated from Ogden High School May 28, 1910, having excelled in math, bookkeeping, business practice, and typing. He was a member of the Ogden High School basketball team which won their regional tournament.
Under the influence of their grandfather, Job Pingree, all of Ma's boys, except Andrew, went into some form of banking. Howard was extremely good with math and bookkeeping, and most of his mature life, he kept one to three sets of additional books which were separate from his banking job. Many evenings he could be found working on his bookkeeping.
Howard, as a boy, was very active, and as was common at that time in rural towns, participated in some of the local pranks, such as the tormenting of the older boys who were trying to impress the girls with their nice clothes and uppity airs. J. Golden Kimball was one who was irritated by the boys. He was courting a girl from Layton and would come from Salt Lake to take her to church. One night, the boys rolled his buggy whip in manure so that he soiled his immaculate white gloves. At other times, they would raid the pies at a wedding or take a watermelon from the neighbor's patch and have a party. On a Halloween, an unfriendly farmer's wagon would be taken apart and reassembled on his barn's roof with the aid of ponies and a hay derrick.
The boys, including Howard, would go fishing on the Weber River in the summer or were frequently found in their rare moments of spare time playing ball at the baseball diamonds which were located just west of the railroad station in Layton.
As he grew to be a teenager, he was very popular with the girls and dated a great deal. Annie, Vird's wife, said he was one of the best looking boys in town and was much sought after.
During World War I, Howard went to Seattle and worked in the shipyards. After this time, he went to Magrath, Canada, and worked in the sugar factory. In 1913, he returned to Layton, and worked for sometime in the Amalgamated Sugar Factory. At a latter date, he was employed in banking in Salt lake City. He would travel back and forth to Salt Lake on the old Bamburger that ran between Salt Lake and Ogden. He met his life long sweetheart, Pearl Viola Watkins on the Bamburger one Saturday night while traveling to Lagoon (a popular resort in Farmington, Utah) to a dance.
One of Howard's friends who was with him knew Pearl's sister, Mabel, and their group was introduced to his. Howard danced the first part of the night with one of Pearl's friends and then became better acquainted with Pearl at intermission time. The rest of the evening they danced together. It seems from that time on, he was a frequent visitor at the Watkins' home in Ogden, on 27th Street. It was such a ritual for him to return home on the last Bamburger each Sunday night, that the conductor of the train would slow down or wait for Howard at 27th Street and save him the walk to the station. Their courtship lasted for almost 6 years and during this time, developed into a close and beautiful relationship. Howard was well liked by Pearl's parents, who welcomed him readily into their family. On April 9, 1924, Pearl and Howard were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Howard had been most desirous of going on a mission, but because of family obligations, he had been unable to go. It was discussed between the couple and decided that they should marry and Pearl would wait at home. They felt it would be a great addition to their lives as well as an opportunity to serve the Lord. Howard was called to the British Mission and had his farewell from the Layton Ward on the evening of April 8, 1924 the night before he was married. On April 9, 1924 he met Pearl who came from Ogden to Layton, and they went to the preliminary meeting and then the 9:00 a.m. session in the Salt Lake Temple, where Howard and Pearl received their endowments. They were married at 3:23 p.m. by George F. Richards with witnesses being John Hagman and John P. Robinson. Their first night together was spent in the New House Hotel in Salt Lake, and the next day they returned to Ogden for a dinner at Pearl's parents' home. On Sunday, April 13, Howard spoke in the Sunday School in Layton, then on the 15th, Ma Cook gave the couple a shower with 85 people attending. On Wed., April 16, the Layton Ward MIA, of which Howard was counselor gave the couple a party at Ma Cook's home. They gave him an Articles of Faith by Talmage. On April 17, he was set apart, with Rollo, Pearl's brother, in the church office building and at that time, received his tickets and instructions. There was no mission home at the time to attend prior to leaving on a mission. On the evening of April 18, at 9:15 PM, Howard left for the British Isles by train. He was accompanied to Britain by Rollo Watkins, Pearl's brother, who had also been called on a mission to the British Isles. Pearl returned to the family home in Ogden to work and await his return. Howard and Rollo traveled to New York where they boarded a boat and started for England.
After arriving in England, Howard was assigned to the Sheffield district to work. He worked there some time and was subsequently assigned to the mission home as secretary to the mission under Pres. David O. McKay. Later Pres. McKay was released, and Howard continued as secretary to the mission under Pres. James E. Talmage. Howard was most desirous of getting out in the field to work, but was so talented in book keeping and records that it was felt he should remain with the president to travel to the various districts. Toward the later part of his mission, Howard had Rollo accompany him to Ireland for a conference. On their return, Rollo became extremely ill of pneumonia and nearly died. During his illness, Howard was allowed to travel to Rollo's area of labor to administer to him and after, he slowly returned to his health. At the end of their mission, Howard and Rollo met in Paris, France. Rollo continued to travel about Europe while Howard returned to the United States and met Pearl in Buffalo, New York. They spent some time traveling in the East and to New York City and then returned to Ogden, Utah. The mission was a blessing to both Howard and Pearl in their married life, even though at that time it must have been most difficult to leave each other, being so newly married.
After returning, Howard and Pearl obtained an apartment just west of her family home on 27th Street. Shortly thereafter, Howard found employment as a teller at the Walker Bank and Trust Company in Salt Lake City, and it was eventually decided to move their residence to Salt Lake. They began hunting for a home in 1927 and bought a small purple brick home at 508 6th Avenue. They remained in this home for the remainder of their married lives. This brick home was situated on a small piece of property with a small backyard and a driveway parallel to the west side of the home leading to a garage in the southwest corner of the lot.
On May 2, 1928, Howard and Pearl had their 1st son, whom they named after Howard (John Howard Cook Jr.). They called him John. Pearl had many complications after John's birth, and another child was not born until July 21, 1933, when Robert Watkins Cook was born. In the ensuing years between Robert's birth and their daughter Elaine's birth, Howard was ill, so that their last child, Mary Elaine Cook, wasn't born until Oct. 27, 1938.
Howard and Pearl were most desirous of remaining active in the church and soon became active in the 20th ward, Ensign Stake of Zion. On Feb. 27, 1929, Howard was ordained a Seventy by J. Golden Kimball. Howard was called at this time to be a clerk to Bishop Clarence C. Neslon. Howard continued as clerk to Bishop Edwin Q. Cannon and later as first counselor in the bishopric to Edwin Q. Cannon. He was ordained during this time to be a High Priest on March 14, 1937, by Arthur Winter.(When the 20th ward was split to the North 20th and South 20th wards, Howard and Pearl were in the North 20th ward, and Howard served with Eldred G. Smith as second counselor in the bishopric.) On June 14, 1944, Howard was set apart by Joseph F. Merrill as Bishop of the North 20th ward. In this capacity, he was most instrumental in favorably touching the lives of many. He was released Aug. 3, 1950. On Aug. 13, 1950, he was called to the Ensign Stake High Council and remained in that position for twelve years. During part of this time, he was chairman of the North 20th Ward Scout Committee.
He wrote of his scouting activities as follows:
"My experience in scouting covered a period of some twelve years. I have always been interested in the scout movement, for I think it is one of the greatest things one can be connected with. Particularly one can get close to boys and can be a great guide to the young of the nations, one of the greatest helps in keeping boys out of the delinquent ring. If more fathers took an interest in the Marvelous work, I think we would have a kinder, more helpful world. Even though I did not become actively engaged in scouting until late in life, in fact I started in the scout movement when John Jr. became a scout. I then went through all the requirements except Bird Study and Life Saving. This went on for some 12 years and Robert was getting his Eagle Badge. Thanks to Boyd Hatch, scoutmaster who put three of us fathers on the spot and gave us only a limited time to pass Life Saving. Brother Adrian Van Tussenbrook, whom we give credit to, worked with us on swimming and made it possible for us to pass. At the next scout Court of Honor, nine of our member's troop (180), received the Eagle Badge (two fathers and their sons--Fritz Haertel and his son Alvin, myself and my son, Robert Watkins Cook, Boyd Hatch, scoutmaster, WH (Bill) Olsen, Elmer Neuren, L. M. Tanner, and Spencer Greer all received Eagle Badges, together with 45 other scouts who received merit badges. A great deal of my scout work was done while I was first counselor to Bishop Eldred G. Smith and while I was Bishop of the North 20th ward. I enjoyed my connections with scouting very much. I started with John and received my Eagle Badge when Robert received his honor, some twelve years later."
During Howard's chairmanship of the Scout Committee, he was influential in helping many young men.
For seven years after his release from the Ensign Stake High Council and his retirement from Walker Bank, Howard was a set apart temple worker in the Salt Lake Temple and was very active in genealogy. He was also ward genealogical committee chairman. Howard's work in the church, covered many years of service. After his mission, he was eighteen years as clerk, ten years as 1st counselor in the Bishopric, six years as Bishop, twelve years in the High Council, seven years as a set apart temple worker and for many years was a member of the church regional welfare council.
After returning from his mission until his retirement, Howard was employed at the Walker Bank and Trust Company, this being a period of around thirty years. He was first employed as a teller and then moved to the trust department where he was placed in charge of the real estate. He at this time was active and participated in the A I B (American Institute of Banking) and took some extension classes at the U of U.
He was 5 feet 11 inches tall with medium dark brown hair that in his 40's, started to become gray and was snowy white in his 60's. He tended to be heavy in his latter years until his illness prior to his death. He had a fun sense of humor with a twinkle in his eye and he loved to tease.
He was most generous and kind to his children and to persons in trouble and would frequently be found helping someone in need with his belongings or his time. He was simple and kind in his advise. He sympathized easily with others and was described by many as a truly Christian gentleman. He was respected and loved as the Bishop of the North 20th Ward and was instrumental in helping. At the time that he was Bishop, the Bishops were solely responsible to do the tithing records and bookkeeping of the ward, and he spent many hours working on these books in addition to his other responsibilities.
He bought much stock during his lifetime and lost much of this during the depression years. He bought two pieces of property (one ten acres at 1600 West 4th North in Salt Lake and a 20 acre tract in Roy, Utah). The property in Roy had a large orchard as well as two homes on it. (The second frame home was built years later.)
Most Saturdays Howard would spend on his land in Roy, working in the orchard, fixing the homes, cultivating the land, irrigating, or pruning the trees. Each Saturday, going to and from the Roy property, he would stop and talk and visit with his mother in Layton. This seemed to be a great enjoyment over the years to Howard, and a financial asset to him in his later life. The land was most helpful to the family in supporting them with fruits and vegetables, especially during the depression years. A junior high school and LDS chapel were built on part of this land during his lifetime, and the remainder including the homes, he passed on as an inheritance to his children. Along with the job Howard held with Walker Bank and his farming in Roy, he held down two or three jobs keeping books for various companies in the evenings in his home. He was extremely industrious and hardworking, making sure his children were able to go on missions and attend college. He seemed to have a hard time letting down from his working to enjoy social activities while his family was young, but in the later years of his life, he grew more at ease and enjoyed many social situations with his friends. He would frequently take friends to dinner or go to their home.
Howard and Pearl enjoyed many enjoyable times with friends in various study groups, taking their family on picnics (especially to the canyons around Salt Lake for dinner after work), or to the beach, Lagoon, family reunions, etc. The family went each Christmas Eve to Ogden in their early years to spend the evening, night, and day with Pearl's mother and family. This continued until Grandmother Watkins' death, then the family would make an excursion to Ogden (usually on Christmas Eve) to distribute their gifts to the various relatives.
Each January 1st (New Year's Day) was spent with Ma Cook. This tradition was kept until her death in 1957.
While Howard never formally attended college, he was very proud that all his children had graduated, and that his son, John, had completed medical school. He was instrumental in not only helping to support them in their college days, but to send all three of the children on missions. It was a source of great satisfaction for him to be able to do this.
From after his marriage, Howard had a slight limp from osteomyelitis, that was barely noticeable, except when he was very tired.
In his adult years, he had a cough just as his mother had had in her later life. Howard's cough also worsened in his later life. After seeing a doctor in 1962, it was found that he had a disease which resulted in the progressively scaring of his lungs (chronic bronchitis).
In 1951, Howard's beloved wife, Pearl, had radical surgery for cancer and after much concern, loving care, faith and prayers as well as suffering, she passed away on October l, 1953. Howard was most kind to her during this time and spent many long hours supporting her before she quietly slipped into a coma and passed away in their family home. At the time, Robert, Howard's second son, was on a Great lakes mission, and his daughter, Elaine was fourteen years old. His son John was in Medical School. This was a great financial as well as an emotional time for Howard. Being both mother and father to the children, he attempted to grow very close to them, which had been hard in his earlier years because of his church responsibilities. He spent many hours of council and interest in the children.
Howard never remarried after Pearl's death, but revered her memory. He remained active and faithful in the church. After his retirement from banking, Howard had the opportunity to do some traveling and went to the dedication of the London Temple and the dedication of the New Zealand temple. These trips were a source of great enjoyment and memories. He was most interested in his grandchildren as his children married later in life. He saw only five grandchildren before his death in 1964.
On March 30, 1963, Howard had an aorta aneurysm, which ruptured and he was rushed to surgery at the LDS hospital in Salt Lake. After hours of surgery, 32 pints of blood in one night, great skill and prayer, fasting and prayer, he was able to return to his son John's home to recuperate. His daughter, Elaine, was at this time on a mission to Japan. Howard, from this time until his death, never completely recovered his strength. His weight wasted away and he was extremely thin at his death. His lung condition slowly worsened in conjunction with his major surgery and he had the great sorrow of the death of his son, Robert, on June 10, 1963, in a tragic accident in Southern Utah. These all contributed to his decline.
He remained in the hospitality of his son John's and daughter-in-law Barbara's home during the ensuing months. On Elaine's return from her mission, she remained at their home to try and help with his care. On May 12, 1964, after a family birthday, Howard attempted to walk in the backyard of his son John's home and fell, striking his ribs against a cement retaining wall. He quietly slipped into his eternal reward four days later, on May 16, 1964, at 9:30 p.m. in the LDS hospital.
Howard was greatly loved and respected by many for his devotion to the Lord and his service to his family and friends and the members of the church. He had a humble greatness in his love of his fellow men. He was truly a Christian gentleman.
Written by Mary Elaine Cook daughter of John Howard Cook. 1973.
Summer 1997-- scanned and re-edited by David Cook and Sherrie Markman.