From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Cook, Isabel and John Hartwell

It has been mistakenly assumed that the Cooks were Kentucky natives. John Cook was born to a free family around 1838 in Washington, D.C. Isabel Marion Cook was born in 1843 in Tennessee. Both were graduates of Oberlin College.

The Cook couple came to Kentucky in 1864 when John was hired as a school teacher in Louisville. In 1867, they moved to Washington, D. C. where John had accepted the position of chief clerk with the Freedmen's Bureau. The family, which included extended family members, lived east of 7th Street, according to the 1870 U.S Federal Census. John Cook worked during the day and attended college at night.

John Cook was a member of the first class of ten graduates from Howard University Law School in 1871. He would become a professor and dean of the school for two years prior to his death from tuberculosis in 1878.

John and Isabel Cook were the parents of musician Will [William] Marion Cook. For more see A Life in Ragtime, by R. Badger; and Swing Along, by M. G. Carter.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Cook, Isabel and John Hartwell,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-08-07 19:06:32