John C. Cook Found Papers Finding Aid

Lawrence Gartner, MD, FAAP and Carol Gartner, PhD
Pediatric History Center​​
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​John C. Cook Found Papers Finding Aid



Lawrence Gartner, MD, FAAP and Carol Gartner, PhD Pediatric History Center
American Academy of Pediatrics
345 Park Blvd
Itasca, IL 60143

Title: John C. Cook Found Papers
Dates: 1879 – 1908 (Bulk 1879 – 1888)
Physical Description: 1 box
Language(s): English
Summary: Correspondence, prescription papers, notes, personal receipts, contracts and order forms related to the early career and personal life of Dr. John C. Cook of Chicago, Illinois.

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​Administrative Information

Provenance: While conducting research for the Chicago Pediatric Society centennial celebration 1995-96, Dr Tonse N. K Raju began an investigation into founder Dr John C. Cook. Dr Tonse N. K. Raju was able to track down and visit the former residence of Dr Cook in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Dr Raju was fortunate to meet the current residents, Dr and Mrs Kevin Fagan. They shared with Dr Raju papers from a "Dr Cook" they found in the home during a remodeling project. In 2000, they donated the found papers to the American Academy of Pediatrics Pediatric History Center, now the Gartner Pediatric History Center.

Information about Access: The collection is open without restriction.

Ownership & Copyright: This collection is the physical property of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Copyright may belong to the authors, their legal heirs and assigns.

Processing Notes: Dr. Tonse N. K. Raju's original research was an intrinsic part of the discovery and acquisition narrative and is included with the found papers.

Processed: Authored by A. Seagram 2018

Biographical Note

John Columbus Cook, also John C. Cook (1850 – 1908): 
John C. Cook was born in Union County, KY, around 1850. As a boy, his family moved him to Union County, Illinois. He was said to have had a difficult childhood, losing both parents at an early age. He found solace in the intense study of nature, a fascination that would remain with him throughout his life. Cook's determination, intelligence, and dedication was appreciated by a local couple, Thomas A. E. and Martha Holcomb, who took an interest in the young Cook and invited Cook to move in with them in Cobden, IL. A family friend and physician encouraged him to study medicine, and he moved to Chicago, eventually receiving his MD from the Chicago Medical College in 1880. He worked as surgeon of the Illinois Central and Michigan Central railways from 1880 to 1883. In November 1882, he married the sister of renowned Pullman architect Solon Spencer Beman, Jean "Jennie" L. Beman (1866–1938?) in a large double wedding in the newly built Pullman church. Thomas Holcomb walked the bride down the aisle. In 1884, Jennie gave birth to a son, Maxfield Holcomb Cook. She later went on to study painting at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as in New York and Europe, eventually becoming a recognized artist under the name Jean Beman Cook-Smith.

Dr Cook served as attending physician at the South Side Dispensary and instructor in the diseases of children at Northwestern University Medical School until 1895. Around this time, his home became a gathering place for fellow physicians concerned with child health. These collaborative discussions led to the establishment of the Chicago Pediatric Society in 1897. Dr Cook served as its first president from 1897 to 1899 and was honored by the society posthumously as its official founder. His name, along with Dr A. C. Cotton and Dr M. P. Hatfield, appears on the article of incorporation in 1901. He was also credited with inspiring the Chicago Medical Club. In addition, Dr Cook was an active member in several established medical groups and served as Chair of the American Medical Association (AMA) Section on Diseases of Children in 1903. He spent time studying the pathology of diphtheria in Europe and returned to Chicago to promote the use of anti-toxin as a cure. Through his monographs and lectures, he became recognized as a voice and force against child labor and a regular member of the milk commission. Dr Cook was also instrumental in the conversion of the La Rabida Convent into the Jackson Park Sanitarium, where he served as superintendent until his death. Dr Cook suffered an attack of typhoid fever and succumbed to meningitis on March 21, 1908. He was buried in Cobden, IL.

Thomas Addis Emmett Holcomb, also T. A. E. Holcomb (1831-1897):
T. A. E. Holcomb was born in Westport, NY, in 1831. He was one of more than ten children of the prominent surgeon Dr Diadones Holcomb. T. A. E. Holcomb attended the classical department of Knox College in Galesburg, IL, and graduated the class of 1855. Two years later, he married Vermont-born Martha "Mattie" A. Lyon (1833–1906.) The couple traveled throughout Europe and spent extended time in Sweden. By the 1870s, they lived on a farm in Cobden, Union County, IL. Both avid entomologists and horticulturists, they were frequently credited with important scientific observations and new discoveries in various periodicals and journals. In 1876, their translation of the Norse story "Frithiof's Saga" was published and well received. Always active, T. A. E. was well-known throughout Union County. He launched a variety of business enterprises and served many community roles, including school commissioner, country treasurer, and state senator. Not having children of their own, the Holcombs became foster parents to John Columbus Cook and later George Washington Cook. John C. Cook would become a respected physician and instructor specializing in pediatrics in Chicago and the George W. Cook would eventually become the Dean of the College of Dentistry at University of Illinois. By 1883, the Holcombs had followed Dr John C. Cook to Chicago and Mr Holcomb became the proprietor of the Central Pharmacy in Kensington (Chicago) Illinois. In 1894, T. A. E. and Martha Holcomb both in their 60s, moved permanently to their winter home in Ocean Springs, MS. Three years later, T. A. E. Holcomb fell victim to yellow fever. Still active in business, he was in the process of several real estate projects. The Pharmaceutical Era remembered him as "one of the most popular men in pharmaceutical circles."

5708 Rosalie Court (later Harper) Hyde Park (later Chicago) Illinois:
In 1884, 5708 Rosalie Court was built in what was then known as Hyde Park Township. This residence was designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman for his sister and brother-in-law, Dr John C. and Jean Beman Cook. Sometimes referred to as "Dr Cook's Villa," it was part of the Rosalie Villa development. Dr Cook's home eventually became the first informal meeting place of the Chicago Pediatric Society. In 1899, Dr Cook officially moved his medical office from the Kenwood Building to this residence on Rosalie Court. In 1907, Dr John J. Gill a fellow physician of Dr Cook's at the Jackson Park Sanitarium also listed the Rosalie Court address as his office and in 1909 he purchased the residence. As of 2018, the home is still standing.

Collection Contents

Series  FolderDescription
Series 1: Correspondence   
 from Thomas A. E. Holcomb (1979-1880)
 1letter October 08, 1979
 2letter November 17, 1879
 3postcard May 06, 1880
 4letter May 15, 1880
 5letter May 16, 1880
 6letter November 04, 1880
 miscellaneous (1879-1888)
 7regarding room for rent with reply Geo A Colby September 16, 1879
 8signed Jas E. Brumstead April 12, 1880
9signed L. A. Clauseen April 17, 1880, also includes clipping announcing death of Valentine Clauseen
 10signed E. C. Richwald, merchant 165 South Water Street May 15, 1889
 11signature interpreted as "Mama", assumed to be from Martha Holcomb, mentions "Tommie" and "Mr. Holcomb", June 1880
 12envelope February 21, 1884
 13torn envelope from Chicago Medical College with notes April 13, 1884
 14envelope May 12, 1884
 15Chicago Telephone Company, torn, May 14, 1884
 16Apollo Legion of Select Knights A.O.U.W. July 30, 1884
 17signed S. F. Bauton October 15, 1888
introduction, letter from a respectable physician at Monterrey, Mexico, July 1882 (6 pages, oversize)
Series 2: Professional Records 
partial note page marked J. C. Cook, M.D. 188_
 20prescription pages and book of J. C. Cook, M.D. c. 1880-1899
Series 3: Personal Records21library card, Cobden, issued prior to 1880
 22notepad 1882-1883
 23land contract between J. C. Cook and John Bennett August 15, 1884 (torn)
 24insurance paper, Dr. H. N. Field 1886
 25insurance paper 1887
 26receipt for Abbott Buggy Co. 1887
 27receipt from plumber 1888
 28Park Club membership ticket and receipt 1888
29insurance paper 1888
receipt from wagon maker 1889
 31order forms for J. E. Hinkins D.D.S. ca. 1885-1908
 32page from History of Cook County 1883 (oversize)
Series 4: Collected Biographical Research  
 33presentation papers of Tonse N.K. Raju, MD 1996-1997

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