Grant Cook was born in 1872 in Binghamton, WI which is about 20 miles inland fromGreen Bay, near Black Creek.His father, Lyman Cook, and his partner George Dickenson ran a general store in the village of Norie and there was a younger brother named Jay. His mother died when Grant was 10 and then Lyman subsequently remarried.
In the spring of 1884, Lyman and his partner prepared to move their general store to Eagle River as the railroad line was about to be completed and sawmills were being built for processing logs into lumber for shipment south. Lyman came up first and Dickenson settled accounts in Norrie and came up later. Since the tracks had only been laid as far as Three Lakes, the inventory was hauled by ox team to Eagle River. (Oxen were preferred over horses as regular hay and oats were expensive and oxen could survive o marsh hay and rutabagas). They then proceeded to set up shop in a large tent on the north side of the river. Here, he also proceeded to build a frame house.
Grant’s stepmother was pregnant, and his brother Paul (the first of two more sisters and another brother) was born in Eagle River in Oct of ’84. His brother Paul was the first boy of European descent to be born in what is now Vilas County.
In 1894 Grant secured a tract of timberland on Moccasin Lake through the Homestead Act. He had to clear some of the land, build a cabin, and plant a crop which then entitled him to obtain title to the property. In the meantime, Grant had been teaching school near Land O’ Lakes. When he went to sell the timber off the homestead, he found that it had been cut over by a logging company and had to take them to court to recover the lost revenue. However, they were forced to pay damages based on the estimated value of the timber and he was able to finance his way to attend Ripon College and obtain a teaching certificate. Later, Grant received a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from Lawrence College
Upon returning to Eagle River, he married Emma Morgan and they had a son, Louis, who was born in August of 1900. At the time of his birth, they were living in the log part of the building which is now the White Spruce restaurant.
For the next several years, Grant held the position of Superintendent of Schools for Vilas County and subsequently was the Principal at the high school in Eagle River. In the early 1920’s he had a teaching position at Milwaukee Teachers College (Now UW Milwaukee). At the time, there were less than 1,000 students. In the late 1920s, he was hired to be the head of the Science Department of Steinmitz High School in Chicago, which had 5,000 students. This was a position that Grant held until he retired in 1940.
In 1902, he had purchased a 3-acre parcel of land on Silver Lake in Eagle River. In 1929 Grant started to build a house of my own design on the hill at the site. It was slow going as he taught school and only had time to work on it in the summers. After about 10 years,the house was completed to the point that the family could live in it on a year-round basis. Hilltop House is still there and is owned by his grandson, Jon, and his family.
Grant’s hobbies included art, especially landscapes, music, and poetry. As part of his interest in botany, he even developed a rose variety with no thorns for which he received a patent. However, it was never a commercial success. Grant Cook died in 1944.