Ansel Brainerd Cook was born in 1823 in Haddam, CT. He moved to northern Illinois in 1845, then to Chicago in 1853. While in Chicago, he started a stone masonry business. He provided the masonry for the iconic Chicago Water Tower, one of the few structures to survive the Chicago fire. The stone came from a quarry which is now the site of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower - another iconic Chicago building.
He was an alderman in Chicago, and also served in the Illinois State Legislature for 3 terms - initially from Cook County and later from Lake County.
In 1878 he built his country residence in Libertyville, on the site of that town's first post office. After his death in 1898 he willed this house to Libertyville for use as a library. He stipulated that his third wife be allowed to live there until her death in 1920. The house was used as a library until 1968 when the present Cook Memorial Library was built adjacent to the home.
The house became the headquarters of the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society and contains many donated period pieces, including furniture, small items, and many wedding dresses on display.
One interesting item was a banner on display for the Wide Awake Club. This was a Republican Campaign Club that existed to aid in the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. The Libertyville delegation was the largest contingent to march in a torchlight parade on Chicago's State Street. At the bottom of the picture are 2 of the torches carried in that parade.