The Homes of John P. Cook & Chauncey W. Ferris
Good friends John Potter Cook and Chauncey Washington Ferris came to Jonesville from New York State in 1832 as twenty-two-year-olds with big plans. Originally opening the first general store in Jonesville, they later built a mill in Hillsdale, where they moved their store. Their mill was sold several times, eventually ending in the hands of F.W. Stock. The two short streets that today meet where St. Peter's Episcopal Church and the mill area come together are named Cook (from Broad Street to the mill) and Ferris (from North Street to the mill).
Firmly established in Hillsdale County, the men returned to New York State to find wives. Between the two of them, they married five women" Three were sisters, one was the sister of John and a third wife for Chauncey was not previously related to anyone. The friendship between the families never flagged, and marriages between the children were common. According to an account by a Cook/Ferris descendent in 150 Years in the Hills and Dales, the family relationships became so complicated that "(t)here were brothers and sisters who were their own cousins, sisters who were likewise sisters-in-law (and) fathers who were uncles to their own offspring."
The two families built houses across North Street from each other. John's house (left) was erected where the Elks parking lot now stands. Chauncey's home was behind the current Elks Lodge (which was originally built for Henry Waldron in 1868). It still exists. After the death of Chauncey's third wife, the large estate was subdivided and the home became a rooming house. In that incarnation, its greatest claim to fame was on October 16, 1930, when Leonard Dacon shot and killed Undersheriff Harlan Wood.
John's family eventually moved to what is now the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity house on Hillsdale Street. John's son Chauncey Ferris Cook bought his father's home after John's death, while his brother Franklin M. Cook lived in the current Sigma Chi Fraternity house a short distance away.
JoAnne P. Miller