A homestead with many interesting family associations is the Willow Branch Farm in Union Township. It has been owned by members of the Cook family for more than a century. It has responded to their care and management, and is not only a landmark but for generations has been a center for some of the most productive farm and stock raising operations in the county. Its present owner is Isaac Scott Cook, who was born there, and who since an early age has been identified with its active management.
Mr. Cook is a descendant of the Connecticut branch of the Cook family. His first American ancestor was Henry Cook, who came to Plymouth, Massachusetts, before 1640, from Kent, England. Two of Henry Cook's sons, Henry and Samuel, settled at Wallingford, Connecticut, and became the ancestors of most of the Connecticut branch of the family. In the next generation was Samuel Cook, who was born in March, 16—. and married Hope Parker. Isaac, a son of Samuel, was born January 10, 1681, and died at Wallingford, Connecticut, in 1712. He was married in 1705 to Sarah Curtis. One of their children was also named Isaac and was born July 22, 1710, at Wallingford, and died March 16, 1780. He married Jerusha Sexton, of Wallingford.
A son of Isaac and Jerusha was Colonel Isaac, who was born July 28, 1739, and died in 1810. He served with distinction in the Revolutionary war. His wife's name was Martha. They were the great-grandparents of Isaac S. Cook, of Ross County.
The founder of the family in Ohio was Judge Isaac Cook, who was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, in 1768. Soon after his marriage he started with his wife and household goods in wagons to find a home in the great unclaimed West. They went as far as Pittsburgh, and leaving his wife there, Isaac Cook continued on a prospecting trip to the Northwest Territory in 1795, going as far as Greenville. He was present there when General Wayne made his treaty with the Indians. After seeing peace secured with the Indians he returned, and in the following year settled in the rich and beautiful valley of the Scioto. He had taken with him from Pittsburgh a commission from General Neville to sell the latter's land grant in the Virginia Military District. This trust he performed with such satisfaction to his employer that the latter presented him with 400 acres of land which had been unsold. Judge Cook added to his nucleus by purchase, and developed a splendid estate before his death. He named the old farm the Willow Branch Farm and by that name it is still called. Under his energetic management the soil yielded of its fruits and the log cabin home was soon supplanted by a two-story frame house. Judge Cook was one of the very able men in the early life of Ross County. He was appointed associate judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1803, and filled that position with splendid dignity for twenty-seven consecutive years. He was also elected several times as a member of the State Legislature, and while in the Legislature was a member of the committee on legislation and introduced the bill for the establishment of a public school system in Ohio. Another fact of interest concerning him is that he was a pioneer advocate of temperance at a time when little thought was given to such a cause. He drew up a pledge for his own children and that pledge contained the names of all his grandchildren, their respective parents vouching for them. Judge Isaac Cook was a resident of Ross County upwards of half a century, and died in 1842.
In 1792 ha married Margaret Scott of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, a daughter of Capt. Mathew and Elizabeth (Thompson) Scott, Mathew Scott was first lieutenant in Miles Pennsylvania Regiment in 1776, and a captain in the Pennsylvania State Regiment in 1777. Judge Isaac Cook and his wife, Margaret, reared eight children: Isaac, Mathew Scott, Elizabeth, William, Joseph, Lucy, Maria and Margaret. The oldest daughter, Maria, married Dr. James Webb, of Kentucky, and was the mother of Lucy Webb, who subsequently became the wife of Rutherford B. Hayes, afterwards President of the United States. After the death of Doctor Webb, his widow and her three children lived at the old homestead. Willow Branch Farm, in Ross County.
On the Willow Branch Farm, William Cook, father of Isaac S., was born in 1807. He grew up on that farm, and eventually succeeded to its ownership. He was a man of fine character, of great industry, and his tastes and inclinations led him to spend his years in the quiet pursuits of agriculture. Very successful as a farmer, he at one time owned 1,500 acres. A desire for public office never came to him, and he was content to do his duty as a private citizen. He was first a Whig and afterwards a Republican. His death occurred September 4, 1892, at the age of eighty-five years. Many years ago he erected a substantial brick house on the Willow Branch Farm and it is still the residence of his son, Isaac S. William Cook married Mary G. Hough. She was born in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1811, daughter of Benjamin and Catherine (Carrell) Hough, both of whom were natives of England. William Cook and wife reared five children, Ellen Hough, Isaac Scott, Ada, Margaret Scott and Catherine. The daughter Margaret S. is now deceased.
On the farm where he was born and reared, Isaac Scott Cook has worked out his own individual destiny in life. He attended the public schools in the country district and also at Chillicothe. His youth was spent in the dark and forbidding years of the Civil war, and on August 13, 1862, he responded to the call of patriotism and enlisted in Company D of the Eighty-ninth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was with this regiment in its various movements until September, 1863, when, being taken ill, he was placed in a hospital, first at Nashville and afterwards at Louisville, and from there was sent to Cincinnati, and in November, 1863, was granted an honorable discharge from the hospital and the army and then returned home. As soon as sufficiently recovered, he went to Pennsylvania and entered the Pennsylvania Military Academy, then located at Westchester, but now at Chester. He remained there until completing a two years' course.
He then returned to his father's farm, and was its responsible manager for a number of years. Later he succeeded to its ownership, and has done much to make it both a profitable and attractive homestead. Some years ago he formed a corporation, whose members were himself and his sons and daughters, and this corporation now owns the '”Willow Brook Stock Farm,” so named by his grandfather. Since 1891 Mr. Cook has been a director of the Chillicothe First National Bank.
He married Rowena Nye. Mrs. Cook, who died in 1911, was a daughter of Spencer and Martha (Jacobs) Nye, both of whom, were of early Connecticut ancestry. Mr. Cook has five children: William Hough, Spencer Nye, Margaret Scott, Isaac Scott, Jr., and Edward Tiffin. All these children received the best advantages of local schools and higher institutions. William H. graduated from the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis and is now a successful mining engineer. Spencer Nye is also a mining engineer and a graduate of the Ohio State University. Margaret Scott graduated from Wheaton Seminary at Norton, Massachusetts. Isaac S., Jr., is a graduate of the agricultural department of the Ohio State University. Edward Tiffin is a graduate of Cornell University, made a record as an athlete while in school, and is now manager of the Willow Brook Stock Farm. The oldest son, William H., married Clara Tandy, and their two children are Margaret Scott and William Hough. Edward Tiffin married Mary Virginia Wilson, who was born near Winchester, Virginia, of colonial ancestry. They have a son, Edward Tiffin, Jr., making the fifth generation on that farm.
SOURCE: Lyle S. Evans, Editor, A Standard History of Ross County, Ohio, Volume 2, p. 496-8