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Hormel Historic Home: Builder's wife made mark on Austin

To continue a topic I started in March, I did a little more research on John F. Cook who is credited with building the beautiful structure that stands today as the Hormel Historic Home.

Based on an article in the May 14, 1913, Austin Daily Herald, his wife, Adelaide Elizabeth Carpenter Cook, may have been nearly as respected and influential in the Austin community as her husband. She was born on March 12, 1841, and died on May 10, 1910.

The article describes her this way, "Possessed of a rare and dainty personality, a clear, keen outlook upon human affairs, a deep insight into what was spiritual and elevating, she cast her influence with the right, and no words can measure what that influence has meant during her long and useful life in our city. Her interests were varied. She was a homemaker, and in her family were centered her first and deepest interests."

I find Adelaide's qualities similar to those expressed about another fine lady who lived in this home, Lillian Hormel. Though Adelaide was 26 years her senior, I have to believe that she and Lillian might have been acquaintances.

Adelaide was raised and educated in Painsville, Ohio. She came to our area to visit her sister, who was living in Spring Valley at the time. Adelaide was reportedly Austin's first music teacher (another similarity to Lillian).


Seemingly progressive in her day, it is written of Adelaide that "she was wholesomely interested in our school, our library, our clubs, our civic improvement, our improved methods of farming and in all things which meant advancement. She took up the study of corn with the deepest of zest and enthusiasm. Mrs. Cook had a keen insight into business, and her judgment as a financier was unusually good and sought by those who appreciated her ability."

Of her social life, the article depicts Adelaide as a charismatic leader who welcomed all into her delightful home. Lillian continued that tradition during her residence here. "Whenever and wherever you met Mrs. Cook, she was a lady. Her voice, her manner, her personality, always spoke of her innate refinement."

John and Adelaide raised three children in this home and I will tell you about them in next week's column.

Looking ahead:

April 26: Stepping Out for Autism Walk.10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bandshell Community Park.Teams are forming now for the annual fundraising walk to support summer camps offered by the HHH for area youths affected by autism spectrum disorder. Visit www.hormelhistorichome.org to print your registration form. Lunch (free will offering accepted) will be offered at 11 a.m., and Koo Koo Kanga Roo will perform at 11:30 a.m.

April 29: Floral Club Luncheon. Noon. Tickets available for $25.

May 8: The Typist.6 p.m to 8 p.m. Free event at the Hormel Historic Home Banquet Center

Produced by KSMQ, "The Typist" will be aired through a partnership between KSMQ, the Austin Public Library, HHH, the Mower County Historical Society, Tolerance In Motion and the Jewish Community Relations Council Minnesota & The Dakotas. "The Typist" depicts the experiences of Larry Tillemans who is believed to be the last living clerk-typist from the Nuremberg Trials. A native of MN Larry shares his experience so the world will remember the lessons of the past.


Program will begin at 6:15 and will conclude with a question and answer session following the documentary.

Holly Johnson is executive director of Hormel Historic Home.

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