Saturday, May 12, 2012

The State of Being Politic

Much like his brother-in-law Richard Flannigan, August C. Cook saw his professional background steer him in the direction of local politics. However, instead of continuing up the career ladder of jurisprudence, August Cook’s course took a different approach.

August became involved in local politics after his wife Catherine’s death. He had, prior to marrying Catherine, moved to the town of Norway, which had not yet incorporated as a city. In 1885, August was elected as a Supervisor of the township of Norway. Perhaps coincidentally, a business move made by him in that same year may have improved his chances at winning his post. A small mention in someone else’s biographical sketch appeared on page 51 of the Proceedings of the Lake Superior Mining Institute, volume XXVI in September 7 and 8, 1928, explaining that
In 1885 August C. Cook bought the old Chronicle newspaper plant in Norway and on September 7th of that year was issued the first number of the “Norway Current.” He [Cook] engaged Mr. Knight [James Brooks Knight, the subject of the sketch] to assist in the reportorial work, and a few months later Mr. Cook sold the paper to Mr. Knight. From that time until his death Mr. Knight continued to publish that newspaper.
It would be difficult at this point to determine whether an editorial assist boosted his campaign outcome. Regardless of any undue reporting slant, August Cook seemed up to the task enough to credibly pursue other elected positions. Moving from the new City of Norway to Iron Mountain in 1889, he subsequently served as prosecuting attorney of the newly-formed Dickinson County, a position for which he was elected in 1891.

Following on the heels of other community-minded efforts, Mr. Cook must have seen fit to advance his efforts to a higher level. In 1895, he was elected to the Michigan State Legislature, representing the “Dickinson District,” comprised of the three counties of Dickinson, Iron and Baraga in the Upper Peninsula. Searching through the annals of the Journal of the House of Representatives for the years 1895 and 1896 provides a picture of his activities while serving at the Michigan state capitol.

The Honorable August C. Cook may have only served one term in the State Legislature, for I find no record of his law-making efforts beyond those mentioned in 1896. The 1900 census lists him, once again, simply as “lawyer.”

Photograph: Michigan State Capitol in Lansing; courtesy photographer Brian Charles Watson as licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license; via Wikipedia.

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