Founding Family: David Cook, the First to Plow Syracuse


“We’re not going anywhere. I watched them work so hard, we feel privileged to be stewards of it now.”

David Cook

During Heritage Days this month, here at Syracuse Connection, we wanted to commemorate this holiday with the history of David Cook and his family. David Cook was born on April 11, 1856. At the age of 14 years old, he was the very first to plow the land of Syracuse.

His parents, William Simpson Cook and Christine Bowman, were living in South Weber when they had their son go to Syracuse to homestead the land. He lived out of a wagon while he plowed land that his parents bought for 50 cents an acre. Since he was the first to start planting the land, there was very little to eat. He ate dandelions and roots. On the weekends, his mom and daughter would come to visit him. After three years of hard work, the whole family moved to Syracuse.

The Cooks were used to moving around. David’s grandfather, who he got his name from, was born in Scotland but moved to the United States after he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They followed the Saints across the country to settle in Salt Lake City, Utah, then Weber, and finally Syracuse. Initially, they built a house just big enough for teenage David, his sisters, and his mother. But ultimately, they built a house big enough to fit all eight children and both parents later.

His son, David Earnest Cook and his wife, Chloe Ireta Steed Cook, bought more Syracuse land from the Steed family. They told David Earnest that it would be difficult to grow anything on it.

He was determined to prepare the land and irrigation system and the farm became very successful.

“Now, it produces a lot of food,” his granddaughter Carolyn Thurgood said. To this day, that land David Earnest bought grows pumpkins and corn. “Where we live now, further east, produces a lot of hay, corn, and grain.” David Earnest wasn’t only known for farming, but also his beautiful singing voice. He was so sought after, he performed at over 1,000 funerals. His neighbor at the time remembers watching him plow his field, then leave the horse plow in the field to sing at a funeral, and return to his farm work. Somehow, he also served as County Assessor. Carolyn remembers seeing her grandpa drive a truck full of vegetables over to the Syracuse Cannery on 2000 West.

David Earnest and Chloe Cook

Then, David Lawrence Cook came along to keep the legacy going. He was a school principal and also a family farmer. He worked just as hard as his father. The same neighbor said that David Earnest was the hardest working man and David Lawrence was just like him.

Now, David Lawrence and Cleone Barber Cook’s children continue to watch over the same farm and grow gardens of their own. Their daughter Carol Cook Thurgood still lives there. In fact, of Carol’s seven brothers and sisters, all but 3 siblings still live on the farm. Cleone Barber Cook also lives on the farm. Just outside her window, the farm is producing grain, corn, hay, and pumpkins. It supplies food for many throughout Utah.

“We love our home. We have deep gratitude to our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. They have sacrificed and worked hard to make this land what it is today. We are so thankful for our wonderful heritage.”

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