|Birth: ||Jul. 24, 1845, England|
|Death: ||May 11, 1920|
William was a remarkable man, born to a valiant and remarkable woman, Elizabeth Frith Cook Clifton and John Cook in Sheffield Yorkshire England. The were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in England, and Elizabeth brought her family to Utah in 1863. William worked at a factory as a child so he only attended 4 days of school in his life. But the summer he arrived in Salt Lake City he started working as a carpenter, all the time studying to become an architect and builder. He was a man that wasted no time-when not working, he was always studying.
In December 24, 1868 he married Ellen Wheatley in the Endowment house. When Ellen gave birth to her fourth child, she died, leaving William with 4 small children. In time he remarried, this time to Lydia Hartle.
William became a great architect in Salt Lake City. He was architect, contractor and builder for the Amelia Palace, which was built by Brigham Young for the purpose of entertaining those who came to Utah on business. It was also the home of Brigham's favorite wife, Amelia. He built homes for most of the church leaders, and many of the old business houses. The last one he built for Heber C Kimball. Heber had bought a new piano, so he gave his old one to William. It was brought over the plains with the ox team and was the second brought to Utah. William took this piano to Vernal in 1893, and it was the first one taken to that country. It is now in the museum on Temple Block.
William worked for Joseph Fielding Smith, Heber C Kimball, and many other early leaders of the Church. He made the detail drawings for the Assembly Hall.
Because of having helped a friend in need of help, and who forgot a kindness, and because of the depression that settled over the United States, he was forced out of business in the summer of 1893. He saved his best machinery and moved to Vernal in the Summer of 1893. It was a hard trip, the roads were terrible and the loads were heavy. It had taken everything he could get e teams bring Williams family and machinery to Vernal and it was too late to get any work.
One of William's children writes, "We moved into a little 2 roomed log house, with windows all boarded up, except one which had a half pane left at the top. We were really crowded as there were now seven children at home, there was no money to buy anything that was needed. We lived on potatoes and bread. We stayed in bed much of the time to keep warm and burned the black machine oil for light. After the shoes were worn out, that we went to Vernal in, all we used until the next Fall were slippers made from old pants. Sometimes the boys would go and get a bone for the dog, but there was no dog, and we had a wonderful dish of soup. But I cannot remember father or mother ever letting us feel but what we were having a wonderful experience, and we would sometimes be able to see lots of things that would make us laugh about it, and I have since had many a laugh over it with my children."
The man whose house we lived in when they arrived in Vernal, came and wanted it. So William traded one of the machines for lumber, and put up the first three rooms of the old Cook home. It was a terribly cold winter, as we moved in on the 18th of December. There were no windows or doors and it was only one thickness of lumber anywhere. There was no ceiling. Everything we ate or drank had to be thawed out because it was always frozen. The children skated all the winter over a third of the floor. But father was happy, as he was again where he could see some work to do that would bring improvement and better ways of living.
One day he was standing in the door of his planing mill, which was built next to the railroad station, when the train came in. A man got off the train, acting as if he didn't know where to go or what to do, so William when over to the station ans asked the man if he were in trouble. He told William he was Albert Buckell From England. He was a young convert to the church, and having spent all the money he had, trying to get to Utah, was looking for a job so that he could send for his wife who had stayed behind in England. William took the man over to his planing mill, gave him supper, and a cot to sleep on, and told him he could start working the next day. The next day however, he was sick with typhoid fever. William took the man home so that Lydia could take care of him. Then he sent for Mrs. Bucell. Brother and Sister Buckell lived at the Cook home until Albert was able to work and then William gave him a job. After that the Buckells where like married children to William and Lydia.
William went into the saw mill business and for some time sawed all the lumber that was used in his work. Several times he took boys, who no one else would be bothered with and helped them learn a trade and become a help to their parents.
William built the Post office, the Stake offices, the Co-Op store. Along about in 1898 or 1899, he was very much interested in trying to get the people of Vernal to build a Tabernacle. He even drew plans and offered to take charge for nothing, but they were not interested and nothing came of it.
In 1900 the plans from Salt Lake were started, but there were no details with them. The work was started, but very shortly the building process was shut down for the want of the necessary information. Sometime later, President Bennion came and asked William to see what he could do. He went to work and got the plans ready and men soon went back to work. William did not draw the elevation plan, but he did the plans which were necessary for the men to work by. All the wood in the Tabernacle except the doors and window, was made from trees hauled from the Mountains, and cut in William Cook's sawmill, which was a block north of the Tabernacle. It was finished in 1907. President Joseph F Smith came for the dedication. He and William were surely happy to see each other again, as they had been friends from early manhood, and had worked together.
William had all the family come home for dinner Sunday to meet President Smith. William and President Smith told how he had lived for sometime at Grandmother Cook's home in England, and how the Elders knew that everything in the house that could be gotten along without went to the pawn shop, that the missionaries might have things comfortable. President Smith said, "We would have loved to get along with what they had, but did not know how to do it, without hurting them. They found such joy in service".
At the services that afternoon, William was made Honorary custodian. He took pride in his calling and was never so happy as when everything was as it should be kept. There was on Conference that was to be held in February, but about 2 weeks before, the boiler started leaking. They worked with it steady, for days, but it seemed they could not get the leak closed. At last two days before conference, William started fasting and praying (that is what he often did when in doubt or trouble). About 2 o'clock in the morning he awakened mother and said "I know what to do. I am going to put in a sack of bran." He did, and had a fire and the building was warm in time for Conference.
Several years later at father's funeral, Mr Siddoway told of this and again at Lydia's funeral, 13 years later, that the boiler was still all right.
William was a soldier in the Black Hawk War, and when they at last gave him the money that he should have received, it came to $500.00 which he gave to have Temple work done. The last years of his life he was much interested in this work and though not able to go to the Temple himself, he spent much money getting it done.
William was very timid, and in spite of all his many accomplishments, still considered himself inferior because of his lack of formal education. He did not even want to give a prayer in church.
He died the 11th of May, 1920. He was a father of fifteen children, three of them having died in infancy. He had also assisted in raising several children of other families.
He was a man that loved beauty in any form; He was kind and thoughtful of others. He always had a good word to say about people. He loved the Gospel and was never so happy as when quietly sitting, talking about it to anyone who would listen.
Elizabeth Lawton Firth Clifton (1822 - 1887)
Ellen Wheatley Cook (1844 - 1876)*
Priscilla Cook (1871 - 1954)*
William Cook (1845 - 1920)
Robert Cook (1853 - 1928)*
John Cook (1857 - 1927)*
Vernal Memorial Park
Created by: Marilyn Groneman
Record added: Nov 20, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 80759628
Added: Apr. 5, 2012