In 1958, Fred W. Cook looked back on a busy life from the vantage point of 82 years, and an office in the tallest building in Lima, which he owned. During his long life, Cook had also owned and operated a factory, dabbled in real estate both in Lima and Florida and sat on the boards of banks and companies.
Now, in October 1958, he sat down in his office in the Cook Tower and recalled “a saga that began before the first automobile rolled into the public square,” according to The Lima News. Central to that saga was his father, Edward W. Cook, who brought the family to Lima around 1879 and built one of those early autos.
As Cook remembered it, his father returned from a trip to Paris around 1900 so filled with enthusiasm for the steam-powered automobiles he had seen there that he decided to build his own, with the aid of his son.
“It was a two-cylinder car … and had a top speed of about 20 miles per hour. He remembers driving it as far as Toledo,” the News wrote. “Then, dramatically, he spans half a century by asking, ‘Have you noticed the bronze letters at the front of the building?’ He explains those letters which spell ‘Cook Tower’ once comprised the bronze metal engine of that 1902 automobile.”
Cook’s father brought his family, including young Fred, to Lima from Bryan around 1879 and established the Globe Machine Works at 106 E. Elm St., just east of South Main Street.
E.W. Cook was born in Ohio on Jan. 15, 1844, the son of William W. and Susan Angus Cook. He married Sarah Malvina Evers in Van Wert County on Christmas Day 1865, and the couple had four children, daughters Ida and Gertrude Fay, both of whom died in their teens, and sons Frank and Fred, who was born in 1876. After his first wife Sarah’s death in 1886, he married Lou Ella Burton, but the couple divorced in 1898. In 1908, he married Minnie Phillians, who survived him.
A history of Northwest Ohio written in 1917 noted the elder Cook “started life on absolutely nothing, and by hard work and close attention to details has found prosperity in ample measure. He is known as a conservative businessman, but his public spirit has been very effective and has been displayed on many occasions for the good of the community at Lima.”
Cook’s hard work in Lima began when he established his machine works on the site of the county’s first foundry, built by George H. Meily in the middle of the 19th century. According to the 1885 history of Allen County, “Early in 1882, a company was organized with B.C. Faurot, president; J.N. Harrington, secretary and treasurer; and E.W. Cook, superintendent. The capital was placed at $50,000. Shortly after organization, a forty-foot square building was erected, and the manufacture of stationary and portable engines began. The works stand on the corner of Main and Elm.”
In May of 1885, the same month Faurot hit oil near his paper mill on East North Street, Cook, too, was drilling.
“E.W. Cook, of the Globe Machine Works, will bore for gas near the works on Elm Street,” the Lima Democratic Daily Times wrote on May 14, 1885.
Cook also began manufacturing machinery for use in the oil fields. A 1903 story on Globe described it as “manufacturers of oil well supplies, engines and boilers for automobiles and gears,” adding that the company employed from 20 to 25 people.
By then, Allen County had begun producing cigars as well as oil. Cook and Globe adapted.
“E.W. Cook has started a cigar-box factory in the Globe Machine Works building,” the Lima Daily Times reported April 17, 1891. “He has put in the necessary machinery and brought several experienced workmen from other parts. The first boxes were turned out yesterday and sold to Lichty Bros. They are made of cedar, very neatly finished and put together with brass hinges, and properly branded. Three hands are now employed; but the force will be increased from time to time by the hiring and instruction of new hands till the employees number sixteen.”
Fred Cook, who had started working in his father’s factory as a teenager, told the News in 1958 that the firm began making cigar boxes when “Diesel-Wemmer was a small outfit.” Diesel-Wemmer (later known as DWG) was founded in Lima by German immigrant Henry Diesel in the 1880s and was once a major producer of cigars. The younger Cook remembered carrying cigar boxes to DWG “50 at a time” when he was a young man.
Fred Cook, the News wrote in July 1968, was a graduate of Lima High School. “Mr. Cook worked in his father’s factories from age 16 and was also a tool dresser in local oil drilling efforts. After 1901, he devoted full time to the cigar box industry…”
Around 1908, E.W. Cook closed the machine works and foundry. About the same time he took his son into partnership.
In the meantime, changes were happening in the company. On May 22, 1923, Lima’s Republican-Gazette reported that “plans for the construction of a new modern business building on the north bank of the Ottawa river, adjacent to the Main street bridge, by the Globe Cigar Box company, were divulged last night. The plans came to light with the presentation by the company to the city commission of a proposition for constructing a retaining wall along the north bank of the river for a distance of 285 feet. The commission agreed to pay the cost of constructing 20 feet of wall.”
By 1925, the younger Cook was president of the cigar box manufacturer. In June of that year, the News wrote that “Workmen are demolishing the old Globe Cigar Box factory located on East Elm Street. The factory building is a landmark.”
On Christmas Day 1927, the Lima Star and Republican-Gazette reported the establishment of the Globe Box Company, which had been created with the merger of the Globe Cigar Box Company with manufacturers in Columbus, Deshler and Minster. Globe, the newspaper noted, “will take over the four aforesaid mentioned firms as of January 1, 1928, with headquarters and manufacturing plant at 327-29 South Main Street, Lima, Ohio.”
The merger was necessary, the newspaper explained, because a high volume of cigar boxes was needed to justify new automatic equipment at the new Globe plant.
Following the merger, E.W. Cook and his wife left for their winter home in St. Petersburg, Florida, “where they expect to spend the remainder of the winter,” the newspaper reported. E.W. Cook died in Florida on April 21, 1928, at the age of 83. His body was returned to Lima for burial in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Reach Greg Hoersten at email@example.com.