Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 7 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”:

We have already read about how strong Francis Cook was in the newspaper business here in Spokane, but according to the book mentioned above, beginning on September 21, 1886, Francis Cook again made history with another Spokane “first”.  He organized and hosted Spokane’s first annual county fair.  This event, representing Spokane and adjoining counties throughout the Washington and Idaho Territories, was held on his farm at the Montrose Park site.  It ran for 5 days and included numerous displays of produce and crafts, along with many various contests of skill.  Cook built what was later described as a pavilion.  It is unlikely this pavilion was built at the time of the fair to house displays.  The predominant events were various types of horse racing, in which Cook explicitly outlawed the use of spurs or whips.  It was typical at events or gatherings such as this to test for the fastest horses and most skillful men.  Time has not changed that competitive spirit – only the means.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 6 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”:

Thus far, we have learned about Mr. Cook and what an interesting character he was in early Spokane.  As a prominent newspaperman, he has now begun buying up property which would eventually become our beloved Manito Park.

Now, two years later, Cook made one of the most significant real estate purchases in the history of Spokane’s South Hill.  On February 4, 1886, he purchased 160 acres from the Pend Oreille Land Division of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company.  This purchase encompassed the area surrounding and including the present Manito Park.   With this purchase was a “certificate of lake” which Cook later named Mirror Lake.  It included the present Manito duck pond and a channel extending to Grand Boulevard, like the handle of a mirror.   Much of the Manito plateau was rather barren, dotted by pine and cedar trees.  The future park site was an exception.  Wild roses grew in profusion.  There were numerous bubbling springs throughout the area, and a large grove of trees, mostly alder, between Grand and the lake.  From the highest point in present Manito Park, Mt. Spokane was visible to the north.  Cook called this area Montrose Park (officially changed to Manito in 1903).  His Manito plateau investments eventually grew to over 60 0acres, which he planned to develop and sell.  Though not officially designated, the Manito plateau became known as Cook’s Hill. 

Stay tuned and next time we’ll explore other investments and “firsts” that are attributed to Francis Cook.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 5 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past:

Up to this point, we heard about the newspaper feud between Cook’s paper, “Spokan Times” and his rival, “The Chronicle” including physical violence between the owners.

By 1882, both newspapers had changed hands and Cook began his next major endeavor – the purchase of the land on the Manito plateau.  In May of 1884, he purchased 40 acres from the United States Government General Land Office.  This sale was authorized by an 1820 Act of Congress allowing provisions for the sale of public lands.  The property became Cook’s First and Second Additions, and took in the area now occupied by the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.  By 1885 Cook had established a farm on his property on the hill south of town.  For the next few years this would be the main focus of his attention.  The 1885 Polk Directory lists him, as a farmer, living at “Spokane Heights”.  True to Cook’s style, he met this new enterprise headlong; everything was going to be first class.  Several articles appearing in the July 14, 1883 edition of the Spokane Falls Review gave a rare glimpse of Cook’s farming operation:

Francis H. Cook received this week direct from New York City, a colony of Italian bees, the first of the kind ever imported into this country.  The little fellows came through by express order, and already have commenced operations.  Mr. Cook rakes great pride in securing for his place the best of everything, and at some future day he will possess the model farm of the northeast.

…F. H. Cook, living only a short distance south of this city, has growing on his place nineteen varieties of potatoes, the seed of which was procured from the East, and they are all doing splendidly.

Next time we’ll learn about the most significant real estate purchases in the history of Spokane’s South Hill – all by Mr. Cook.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 4 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”:

As we last left Francis Cook, he had caused a big uproar with other prominent men in early Spokane and they had opened a competing newspaper.  The two newspapers, of course, spent a lot of their resources to just fight with each other.

On the last day of March, 1882, this “newspaper war” erupted into violence.  Anthony Cannon and his son-in-law, B.H. Bennett, went to Cook’s office to confront Cook concerning an article he had written, which Cannon felt was uncomplimentary.  Both Cannon and Bennett were armed with pistols.  Their purpose was to influence Cook to print a retraction.  A confrontation followed that left both Cannon and Bennett severely beaten.  Cook remained unscathed, although the stove in his office received a bullet hole in its chimney.

Following the incident, Cannon and Bennett were ordered to appear before a grand jury on charges of attempt to commit murder.  From all accounts, there seemed to be sufficient probable cause to support the charge, including motive, witnesses and evidence.  The grand jury, whose foreman was James Glover, ruled that Cannon and Bennett did not intend to assault Cook and dismissed the charges.

Although many of his accomplishments were absent from early Spokane historical accounts, substantial evidence remains to support Cook’s good character.  As history plays itself out, the truth can usually be gleaned and analyzed correctly. 

The newspaper feud continued between Cook and James Glover’s editorials as they both flung arrows at each other.  A dispute erupted when Glover claimed to have given land to Cook to start his newspaper.  It was supposedly 60 feet wide and extended clear through from Riverside to Sprague on the East side of Howard Street.  Cook had to set the record straight by producing a copy of a deed from Glover proving that Cook had indeed paid $50 for the land and nothing had been given for free. 

In the next chapter, we’ll see how Cook came to own the land now known as Manito Park.

Francis H. Cook, the Father of Manito Park – Part 3 – the story continues …

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”:

Cook’s early days in Spokane were somewhat controversial.  From 1878 to 1882, as owner and editor of “The Spokan Times” he appears to have been Spokane’s most ardent and vocal supporter, publicly striving to represent the best interest of the community.  Cook’s newspaper was the first one in Spokane to receive national telegraph wires from the Associated Press, and the county commissioners declared it Spokane County’s official newspaper.  However, Cook’s opinions often provoked some of the early Spokane community leaders.  During his final year with the Times, he expressed negative opinions to the character and actions of some of these leaders, arousing their outrage. 

Cook published an inflammatory article about what he called “The Ring” consisting of city leaders J. N. Glover, A.M. Cannon and J. J. Browne quoting that they “…are blight upon the place, standing between our city and the prosperity to which it is entitled.  They foster no experience but such as pays them tribute.” 

The article appears to have escalated the ongoing feud between Cook and “The ring”.  In response to earlier published statements in the “Spokan Times”, Glover, Cannon and Browne had started a second newspaper in Spokane Falls, The Chronicle”, on June 29, 1881.  A running feud was carried on between the two newspapers.

More on this story will continue later.  Keep tuned in, folks.