b. 4 Oct 1811, Caledonia (Livingston County), NY - d. 6 Dec 1860, St. Augustine, Florida; co-founder with brother Reverend Donald C. Mann of the Rochester American, a local newspaper, and other publications; on March 10, 1849 married Jane Caroline Parker (1824-1922), daughter of a Canadian expatriate once charged with treason; Caroline herself became an editor of a Rochester woman's publication and bore Alexander two sons, Donald and John Parker, who went by "Parker" and who became a Hudson River School landscape painter; Alexander, a Whig, was deeply involved in the struggle for political power in NY between Democrats, Know Nothings, Republicans, and other factions (he predicted a Republican demise by 1856); joined the New York Times (1858) and moved his family to NYC (18 West Street); soon Alexander's pleurisy drove him and his family to St. Augustine, FL, where he farmed; though his "affections traveled North again," he never made it and died of a stroke at 49. There are interesting parallels between the lives of Mann and Cook [see Cook Biography]: their chronic illnesses and flirtation with the Know Nothings, Mann apparently corresponded with Millard Fillmore, whose son was painted by Cook [see Millard Power Fillmore], Boy with Hobby Horse was exhibited in the Arcade, across the street from Mann's office in Rochester's American Building. Mann's portrait was sent to the National Academy of Art & Design, NYC, for exhibition, 1852, cat # 363.
b. 22 March 1809, Troy, NY - d. 24 June 1887, Rochester, NY; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; son of Isaac and Elizabeth Clarke; went into business at 15 years old, became bank cashier in Albion, NY; m. Henrietta J. Ward (1833); moved to Rochester (1845) and became officer of numerous railroads, telegraph and financial institutions, including Clarke National Bank; delegate to Whig National Convention (1852), Vice President of first NY Republican Convention (1852); elected to House of Representatives (1863-65, 1871-75); appointed by Lincoln as Comptroller of the Currency (1865-67), during which time important financial legislation was enacted, including national banking system; returned to business career late in life; trustee of University of Rochester. Photographs exist of Clarke as an older man, sometimes with a beard; Cook's oval portrait, shows a man with ample muttonchops and a youthful, cheery countenance. The Frick Art Reference Library provides this description of the portrait: "Brown hair and side whiskers, brown eyes. Black coat, waistcoat, and stock, white collar and shirt. Paper on table is inscribed: 'Rochester, July 22, 1852.' Subject holds a white quill. Red chair at left, red table in foreground. Brown background." Signed on reverse: "Painted by Nelson Cook / Rochester, NY / 1852".
Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1991.028.0001
b. 2 Oct 1814 - d. 30 Oct 1890; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; daughter of Dr. Levi Ward, land agent in New York for State of Connecticut (1810-), landholder, businessman; m. Freeman Clarke 1833; she was the mother of many children who were well-educated and well-traveled and became active in law and business; at least two children died young: Henry at age 7 (1848) and Elizabeth at 18 (1854); In lieu of the availability of a color version of this portrait, the Frick Art Reference Library offers this added detail: "Brown hair, gray eyes. Brown dress, white lace guimpe [a blouse worn under as dress], cameo brooch, red scarf. Brown frame chair with green upholstery. Brown background." Signed on reverse: "Painted by N. Cook / Rochester, N.Y. / 1852".
Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1991.028.0002
Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1992.123
Unclear if this is the same portrait as Anonymous Man. Sold at auction in Massachusetts for an unknown price in 1989. Auction description read: "Framed painting. Fine study of a handsome young man dressed in a formal black suit, and seated in a red upholstered Victorian chair. Signed, located and dated on reverse, Painted by N. Cook -- Rochester -- 1852."
James Lawrence Alverson, AM, LLD, b. Seneca, NY, 1816 - d. Lima, NY, 12 Sep 1864; graduated from Weslyan University in 1838 and in that year became principal of an academy in Elmira, NY; later (ca 1841-44) taught at the Oneida Conference Seminary (today Cazenovia College); ca 1844 joined the faculty of Genesee Weslyan Seminary in Lima and ca 1850 appointed Professor of Mathematics at Genesee College, Genesee Weslyan's companion school in Lima (the Seminary faced financial problems as the railroad displaced the Erie Canal and bypassed Lima; Genesee College itself eventually was seen as too remote by the Methodist Episcopal Church, which established Syracuse University, 90 miles away, in its place in 1870); served at Genesee College until his death, part of the time as acting president. His portrait was described by the Rochester Daily Democrat (15 March 1852) as "a very excellent half-length portrait." Noted by the Genesee Country Village and Museum.
b. 2 June 1799, Clinton, ME - d. 1 July 1859, Buffalo, b. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; son of Abial and Abiah [Wade] Pitts; with his identical twin brother Hiram Abial Pitts (d. 10 Sep 1860, Chicago) this Maine native obtained a number of farm equipment patents, including one in 1830 for a portable, horse-powered treadmill, another in 1834 for the "Pitts Endless Chain Rotary Pump" signed by President Andrew Jackson, and probably their most lucrative patent in 1837 for the first threshing and separating machine, which was belt-driven and powered by horse or water wheel and called the "Pitts' Patent Separator". The two brothers developed separate manufacturing facilities, with John's factories moving over the years from Albany to Rochester to Springfield, OH and ultimately to Buffalo; John's threshers were known as "Dayton-Pitts" during his Ohio years, and eventually became known as "Buffalo-Pitts Threshers" (see below) following his death; John also received a gold medal at the 1855 Paris Exposition for a thresher attachment which measured and registered the number of bushels bagged. As evidenced by his more costly three-quarter length pose with exposed hands, John Avery Pitts was a man of means, which speaks to his great success as an inventor and the 50-year agricultural standard that was to be set by the Buffalo-Pitts Thresher. Mr. Pitts is shown proudly holding the plans for his thresher, and the words "Pitts' Patent Separator" are legible on the documents. Interestingly, Cook has seated Mr. Pitts in a green chair, a departure from the artist's characteristic preference for red, which may indicate a further customization of the portrait's composition to include furniture actually present in the Pitts's home. Only Mr. Pitts's portrait is signed by the artist, "Painted by N. Cook 1853", on the front at lower left. Both this painting and that of Mrs. Pitts below have undergone considerable restoration, including a great deal of overpainting and canvas repairs. Despite both portraits having significant amounts of new canvas added to the rear sections, small holes and tears still appear in each painting. The portraits in non-period frames were sold as a pair by Skinner, Inc. of Boston in December 2007 for $940.
b. 20 Oct 1801, North Wayne, ME - d. 15 Sep 1876, Buffalo; daughter of Nathaniel and Tabitha [Ford] Jennings; m. John Avery Pitts in North Wayne, ME on 22 March 1826 and bore six children, two of whom died at a young age.
b. 1 Jun 1819 in Bavaria - d. 11 Dec 1890 in Rochester, NY; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; a clothing merchant; probably the first Jewish Mason in Rochester; had a least one daughter, Henriette, who worked with Susan B. Anthony to raise the necessary funding for the University of Rochester to admit woman and Henriette's two daughters were among the small group of woman who were the first to enter the University as students in 1900.
Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1991.000.0024
b. 23 Mar 1827 in London, England - d. 6 Oct 1885 in Rochester, NY; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; The Frick Art Reference Library provides this information about the portrait: "Brown hair and eyes. Black dress, white lace collar, red scarf. Brown and gold earrings and brooch. Brown frame chair with red upholstery. Brown background. Signed and dated on back."
Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1991.000.0025
b. 1835 - d. 1908; second wife of Byron Daniel McAlpine (1824-1894); both buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; Susan was one of five siblings, including sister Mary Elizabeth Potter Hart, born to Henry Sayre Potter and Harriet Benedict Potter. Henry was an extremely successful businessman, first as a general store owner in Pittsford, NY for 32 years and then for another 34 years beginning in 1850 in Rochester as founder/director of Eagle Bank and the largest shareholder and first president of the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company, which eventually became The Western Union Telegraph Company, where Potter became its first president in 1856. Susan's portrait is one of only a few full-length Cook renderings known to exist [see Judge Halsey Rogers and Millard Powers Fillmore]. Although only a black and white photograph is available, a description of the painting at the Frick Art Reference Library says: "Brown hair, gray eyes. Green dress, white lace undersleeves, brown parasol with white handle, red scarf on table at lower right. Olive-brown background." Signed on reverse: "Painted by Nelson Cook / Rochester, NY / 1853."
Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, #1991.287
b.2 Jan 1831 in Pittsford, NY - d. 13 Apr 1891 in Rochester, NY.; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY; sister of Susan Julia Potter and possible companion piece to her portrait; wife of Charles Edward Hart (1827-1894) and mother to their three children, Harriet, Howard, and Mary Belle. Noted by Rochester Historical Society.
b. 4 Jan 1838 in Bridgeport, CT - d. 15 Jul 1883; buried Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, CT; birth name was Sherwood Edward Stratton, who was a normal sized baby but grew extremely slowly after six months of age and had a height of only 3 feet 4 inches at the time of his death; given the stage name of "General Tom Thumb" by P.T. Barnum, who first met the boy at age five and taught him to sing, dance, mime, and impersonate well-known people; toured the United States and Europe with Barnum and performed for the likes of Queen Victoria and President Lincoln; married Lavinia Warren, another "little person" in 1863 and they had no children; retired from performing in 1882 and died of a stroke about one year later. On January 31 1878 the Weekly Saratogian newspaper of Saratoga Springs, NY printed the following: "One of the best known likenesses of General Tom Thumb, the veteran dwarf, was made about a quarter of a century ago by Nelson Cook, the portrait painter, formerly of Saratoga Springs, now a resident of Rome [NY]. Mr. Cook saw the General but once and afterwards painted the portrait from memory." Cook also referred to this portrait in a letter of 30 May 1880 in which he claimed a gallery owner said he could find someone to buy the work for $175. The painting's final disposition has yet to be determined.
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