Pharmacist and historian Roy Bird Cook (April 1, 1886-November 21, 1961) was born at Roanoke, Lewis County. He was the son of David Bird Cook, a farmer and newspaper reporter, and Dora Conrad Cook. In 1898, David Cook moved his family to Weston, where he became the manager for the Weston Independent.
By the time of his graduation from high school in 1904, Roy Bird Cook had completed a home study course in pharmacy. At the age of 19, Cook was the youngest person to be licensed in pharmacy in West Virginia. He first practiced in Weston, later joining the Keller-Cook Company in Huntington and the Krieg, Wallace & McQuaide Company in Charleston. In 1935, Cook became the president of the Cook Drug Company. He held this position until shortly before his death.
After his first wife’s death in 1930, Cook married Eleanor Poling, who became director of the state Department of Archives and History. The couple were active in the West Virginia Historical Society, which Cook helped found. He also served as the editor of the Society’s quarterly, West Virginia History, from 1939 to 1941. Cook wrote several books on the history of Lewis County and biographies of Stonewall Jackson and Alexander Scott Withers. He contributed articles to the West Virginia Review and other publications. Cook served as a trustee of the Kanawha County Public Library and received the Award of Merit from the West Virginia Library Association in 1957.
Cook collected Civil War and early West Virginia documents and memorabilia, including correspondence from Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and William McKinley among others. His collection is housed at West Virginia University and is in high demand by writers and scholars.
Written by Christy Venham