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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Independence County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Virgil Y. Cook, one of Independence County’s most enterprising merchants and farmers, and also one of its wealthiest men, is a son of William D. and Pernecia (Dodds) Cook, the father a Kentuckian, and a son of John Cook, one of the pioneer merchants of that State. Mr. Cook was born in Boydsville, Graves County, Ky., on the 14th day of November, 1848, and received his education in the adjoining county, at what was then known as Spring Hill Academy, but previous to that he had attended the subscription schools of Boydsville. His life was uneventful until the outbreak of the war between the States, when he joined the command of Gen. N. B. Forrest. He enlisted in the Twelfth Kentucky Cavalry, and served twelve months, and at the end of that time was transferred to the Seventh Kentucky Cavalry, formerly Seventh Kentucky Infantry, where he was in the capacity of a private soldier. Mr. Cook took part in the battles at Okolona (Miss.), Paducah (Ky.), Tishimingo Creek, Hamsburg (Miss.) and a great many other engagements, and was in Gen. Forrest’s Pulaski campaign, in the fall of 1864, after which that general was transferred to Gen. Hood’s command, for the purpose of making the raid on Nashville, in the winter of 1864. He also took part in the battles at Spring Hill, Franklin and Nashville, and later, in the spring of 1865, was with Gen. Forrest on his Alabama campaign, which terminated at Selma, on the 2d of April, 1865, and then surrendered at Gainesville, Ala., on May 16, 1865. Though serving as a private, Mr. Cook’s record through the war would put to blush the actions of many men who held superior rank. He has in his possession yet the parole record received at Gainesville, on the occasion of his surrender, and values it highly, simply as a relic of those days. The brigade to which he belonged was the famous Kentucky brigade organized and commanded by Gen. Abe Buford, who afterward commanded the second division of Gen. Forrest’s cavalry corps. After the surrender Mr. Cook returned to his home in Kentucky, where he remained until the year 1866, and then moved to Grand Glaize, Ark., where his father, previous to the war, had carried on business in partnership with Mr. M. F. Thomason, under the firm name of Cook & Thomason. Upon his arrival Mr. Cook, in company with Mr. Thomason, re-organized the firm and did business until the year 1874, when the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Cook went to the town of Olyphant, on the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad, where he conducted a large business, with fair success, until 1884. He then came to Oil Trough Bottom, and located on his Midland farm, about one mile and a half west of Elmo, where he established himself in business, and still remains. He is one of the most successful merchants and planters in that section, and his actions have always been characterized by an energy and enterprise that could not end otherwise. He owns 2,300 acres of land in Oil Trough Bottom, of which 1,600 acres are under cultivation, which he leases annually for a stipulated sum. Altogether Mr. Cook owns about 8,000 acres in Independence, Jackson, Clay and Greene Counties, and the total amount that he has under cultivation is 2,000 acres. He was united in marriage to Miss Ophelia Lamb, a daughter of Enos and Frances (Parish) Lamb, of Tennessee, his wedding taking place at Jacksonport, Ark., on June 29, 1871. , Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Cook: Neva, Whitfield, May, Jennie, a baby who died in infancy, and Varina. In business Mr. Cook carries a large line of general merchandise, in fact everything that is to be found in a first-class establishment, besides dealing in lands and having an interest in one of the finest ranches in Texas. He has erected a splendid dwelling and several buildings on his Midland farm, and owns a cotton-gin on the same farm that has no equal in Arkansas. His brother, Barnett M. Cook, is associated with him, but gives his attention, specially, to dealing in stock, cattle and horses, of which he has quite a herd. Barnett M. was also in the Confederate army, serving as a private soldier in the Twelfth Kentucky Cavalry, and took an active part in all the engagements and campaigns in which his regiment participated. He is a bachelor of forty- three years of age, having been born on the 18th of September, 1846, at Boydsville, Graves County, Ky. The maternal grandfather, Capt. John C. Dodds, commanded a company of soldiers in a Kentucky regiment under Gen. Jackson, in 1814-15, and participated in the battle of New Orleans, on the 8th of January, 1815. His father took an active part in the Revolutionary War, serving with the South Carolina troops, of which State he was a native, and died after that war on his way with his family from South Carolina to Kentucky, whither his widow with his children proceeded, settling in Caldwell County, near Princeton.

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This family biography is one of 158 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Independence County, Arkansas published in 1889.  View the complete description here: Independence County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Independence County, Arkansas family biographies here: Independence County, Arkansas Biographies

View a map of 1889 Independence County, Arkansas here: Independence County, Arkansas Map

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