James Cook, Sr., and his wife Susan Angel Cook, migrated west from Kentucky and settled along Swan Creek in the lower reaches of what was then Greene County (now Taney County). As was the case with many early settlers, they came to Missouri as part of a larger group migration that included multiple families from Kentucky and Tennessee. Sometime between 1836 and 1838, the eldest son James Cook, Jr., constructed this log cabin to house his wife, Catherine, and their children. This single-pen cabin log cabin was a typical size for many early settlers’ homes, but the construction and furnishings of the building suggest that the owners were more affluent. The cabin was constructed of hewn logs rather than rounded ones and the building included a stone fireplace and glass paned windows cut into the log walls. Dirt floors were common in many early cabins, but the Cook cabin had sawn plank flooring, which likely replaced an early puncheon floor. The cabin also included a hand-crafted Federal style mantlepiece, a loft supported by beaded edge ceiling beams, and a shake shingle roof.
The Cooks were successful farmers, who engaged in commercial cattle raising. In 1860, James Cook, Jr., also claimed the labor of three enslaved people, who were listed as a 32-year-old woman and two male children, 15 and 10. Although he did not join the Confederate army, James Cook, Jr., was a known southern sympathizer and may have supported local Bushwhackers. The Cook family raised eight children in this cabin, including a son that would become Sheriff during the Bald Knobber era. The family is buried in the cemetery behind this cabin.
The James Cook cabin is one of the few original log cabins remaining in the county. It is a good representation of a typical home built by Scots-Irish immigrants to the Ozarks. A Cook family descendent still owns the farm and cabin and it is recognized as a Missouri Century Farm.